Although Sam Bartlett enjoyed a successful horse-supplying business in Independence, Missouri, he was nonetheless envious of the hoards of folks who passed through on their way west. Unable to stand it any longer, he convinces his wife, Judith, to pull up stakes, pack up their three year old son, Tom, and accompany him on a journey that turns out to be much more than either of them could have imagined. The trek quickly develops into one of extreme hardship that is further complicated by savage weather, dangerous river crossings, water shortages, unique personalities among members of the wagon train and constant harassment at the hands of marauding Comanches. The ability of the determined travelers to effectively defend themselves is pushed to the very brink as One Eye's warriors attack them repeatedly with devastating results. With four of the train's beloved children having been taken captive, it is then that the inner strength of the beleaguered pioneers is sorely tested and a handful of the men set out to recover the children. After valiant attempts to rescue their children fail miserably, the would-be rescuers are forced to return empty-handed. Against all that they hold sacred, the members of the wagon train are forced to leave their children behind while they do their best to evade the heathens and continue their struggle for survival with barely enough water left to keep the animals going. With all hope of ever seeing the children again now gone, it is the ingenuity of the beautiful Comanche woman, Birdsong, that is yet to be heard from.