It is April 17, 1861 - the day that Virginia secedes from the Union and the sixteenth birthday of John Alan Muro. As the Commonwealth erupts in celebration, young Muro sees his dream of attending medical school in Philadelphia shattered by the sudden reality of war. Muro's father sends him instead to Charlottesville, where Jefferson's forty-year-old University of Virginia has become a haven of rogues and dilettantes. Soon, the war effort requires that medical students like Muro be pressed into service at the Charlottesville General Hospital, where the inexperienced Dr. Muro saves the life of a Northern lieutenant, earning the scorn of his peers. Late in the war, now nineteen and married to a girl he thought he knew, Muro is forced to make a choice that will shape the rest of his life. In this story of love, loyalty, and unimaginable sacrifice, a doctor struggles to balance the passions of youth with the weight of responsibility.