With all ports blocked by the Yankees, the economic welfare of the South depends on getting goods across the border. Disappointed that he can't serve as a soldier, teenager Vin Clayburn volunteers to escort a wagonload of cotton from Missouri to Texas. The tedious journey is by bandits, Yankees and maidens in distress -- but its brave members accomplish their mission, spurred on by the strains of Vin's Stradivarius violin. Yes, these rough and ready fighters melt away when they hear the violin, even the hard core traitor in the group lies peacefully to the sound of it. The contradictions are obvious. Wherefore a Stradivarius on the bloody trail of Civil War? From whence the talent of men like Vin to perform concert hall feats? Confederate or otherwise, a Stradivarius is never a ""fiddle"" and a good adventure tale never so silly.