1965 Newbery Honor book. 1966 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award. 1965 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award. 1964 Charles W. Follett Award. 1965 Clara Ingram Judson Memorial Award.
Times are uneasy for the Matthew Creighton family, tensions rising between the north and the south as war between the states approaches. When war finally does break out, two of the grown Creighton sons, and the town's young school teacher and friend of the family, join the fight. They are expecting an easy victory for the Union, but it quickly becomes clear that victory will neither come easy nor soon. Then the last grown son, Bill, also leaves; but he does not join the Union. When word gets out that he has joined the south, the Creighton family finds the war in their own home, and division and strife rise between them and their neighbors. Nine-year-old Jethro is now the only son still at home. Soon after, his father suffers a heart attack, and it is now up to Jethro—as the only remaining 'working man' in the family—to do the work of five or six grown men to support the women and children left behind. They live from letter to letter and for each newspaper with accounts of the fighting.
Young Jethro discovers that a man's good character can be stronger than a gun and lasts much longer than a war.