Several little-known Ohioans are preparing for war, unable to even guess at the prominence the war will bring them. In Cairo, Illinois, at the far edge of the war’s Western Theater, Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant calmly and confidently goes about training his soldiers. Pipe smoke curls in the air as he pores over maps, looking for ways to go on the attack. Unpretentious but possessing an unmistakable command presence, Grant is called "the quiet man" by his soldiers.
In Kentucky, another new brigadier general of volunteers,nervous, red-haired William Tecumseh Sherman, has arrived to assist in defending that border state for the Union—and is beginning to feel uneasy about the challenge facing him. Elsewhere, Capt. Philip H. Sheridan, a little man who dearly loves a fight, is en route from the Pacific Northwest to St. Louis, called away from the pacification of Indians, eager to join the war at last. In Washington, Edwin M. Stanton—not yet a member of Lincoln’s government—is grumbling, as usual, about the President’s management of the war.