Just before he is awarded the Victoria Cross for courage and bravery in the Delhi Rebellion of 1857, a black British colonel named Reginald Peabody discovers that he has inherited a tobacco plantation in Virginia. After he and his lifelong friend, Nicolas Squires, escape court-martial in England for speaking against the British government, they arrive in Virginia and have to deal with the plantation's overseer whose family has managed the land for more than one hundred years. When Peabody frees over three hundred slaves and offers them equal shares of land, runaways from all over the South converge on the farm. But when the Virginia state government charges him with property theft, Peabody's estate wages war with the Virginia militia. Underestimating the training skills of two battle-experienced British officers, the militia is ill prepared. To end the tension, Peabody offers Virginia a proposal that will alter the country's destiny.