Pre-Civil War Army life at Fort Columbia in Oregon backgrounds a too lengthy ""growing-up"" year that's a disappointment after this author's previous Rogue's Valley (1952) set in the same region. Fifteen year old Zack Bentley can't stand the farm and runs away. Once at the fort, the string of incidents that is his new life includes being deceived by tricky Private Morrison who gets him enlisted as an unneeded clerk so Zack can work some land Morrison owns; being found out- and sympathized with- by Capt. Ulysses S. Grant and kept on in his quarters as an orderly. A foray to Indian territory and a manly decision at last to go back to the farm, splice the ends- but it's a long route home.