It is the autumn of 1864 in Richmond, Virginia. The great and glorious capitol of the Confederacy is surrounded on three sides by Union troops. This time the Yankees are not going away.Thirteen year-old Ryan and eleven year-old Matthew O’Toole, having moved from Boston to Richmond with their father, mother and big sister only a little more than three years earlier, find themselves in a dangerous predicament. As the war rages on around Richmond and it looks as if finally the Union might prevail, some of their southern friends turn against them. The two boys are considered "dirty Yankees" now and their loyalty is suspect.When the two boys help a freeman and his son to escape Richmond, the situation only becomes worse for the O’Toole family until they too must abandon their home and begin a danger-filled flight to the north and freedom.