Two friends, one northern and one southern, struggle to maintain their friendship as events build towards the American Civil War.
(Summer 1865 - Autumn 1865) - Elkanah Bent, having survived the explosion of his hidden ammunition depot near Richmond, becomes obsessed with getting "final revenge" on Orry and George, whom he blames for his failures in life. He begins his revenge by going to Richmond and murdering Orry Main. Furious, Ashton tries unsuccessfully to kill Bent; she then moves to the Old West to start a new life. Heartbroken at Orry's death, Madeline tries to rebuild the Main family mansion at Mont Royal and helps local freed slaves, to the disapproval of most of her white neighbors. After learning of Orry's death, George goes to Mont Royal and helps Madeline. Charles Main, now a corporal in the U.S. Cavalry in the Old West, meets and romances Willa Parker. Ashton begins working as a prostitute in Santa Fe; her goal is to earn enough money to buy Mont Royal. Carrying out the next part of his plan of revenge, Bent goes to the Hazard mansion near Philadelphia and murders George's wife Constance.
(Autumn 1865 - Spring 1866) - Devastated by news of his wife's murder, George begins searching for Bent to exact justice. Cooper Main, Orry's older brother, becomes a member of the Ku Klux Klan and begins working to undermine his sister-in-law Madeline's efforts to help local blacks. Isabel, George Hazard's greedy sister-in-law, wants to buy Mont Royal and evict the Main family. Charles continues to work as a cavalryman in the Old West, and continues to romance Willa Parker. Realizing that she cannot stand against Cooper and Isabel alone, Madeline asks George for help.
(Spring 1866 - Spring/Summer 1866) - George arrives at Mont Royal to help Madeline, and they fall in love. Carrying out the final part of his revenge, Bent kidnaps Gus, the child of Charles and Augusta Berkley. When George learns of this, he goes West and finds Charles. Together the two men rescue Gus, hunt down Bent, and hang him. The hanging ends the personal "war" between Bent and the Main and Hazard families. When Ashton finally gets home, she weeps when she sees that Mont Royal has been burned. It is implied (although never stated) that George and Madeline agree to marry; the series ends.