The Hazards, iron masters of Pennsylvania, and the Mains, rice planters of South Carolina, had formed
their first ties when a son from each house met by chance on a New York City pier on a summer afternoon
in 1842. George Hazard and Orry Main became acquaintances on a northbound Hudson River boat that day.
As soon as they left the boat, they became cadets at West Point.|
There they survived much together, much that strenghtened their natural affinity for one another. There was skull work - easy or George, who had no great desire for a miitary career; hard for Orry, who wanted nothing else. They managed to endure the hazing of a decietful, some said lunatic, upperclassman named Elkanah Bent, even conspired to get him dismissed after a series of particularly heinous acts on his part. But influence in Washington had returned Bent to the Military Academy, and he graduated promising George and Orry a long memory and full accounting for their sins against him.
The Mains and Hazards got to know one another, as Northern and Southern families often did in those yearswhile the long fuse of sectionalism burned down to the powder of secession. There had be visits exchanged,alliances formed - hatreds too. Even George and Orry had seriously quarreled. George was visiting at the Main plantation, Mont Royal, when a slave ran away, was caught, then cruelly punished on orders from Orry's father. The argument of the two young men afterward was the closest they ever came to seeing their friendship destroyed by the divisiveness dripping into the country's bloodstream like a slow poison.
The Mexican War, which found the two friends serving as lieutenants in the same infantry regiment, finally seperated them in unexpected ways. An encounter with Captain "Butcher" Bent sent George and Orry into action on the Churubusco Road, where shell fragment destroyed Orry's left arm (in the tv series it is his leg) and his dreams of a career. Not long after, news of the death of the senior Hazard called George home, because his mother, with sound instincts, could not trust George's older brother, Stanley, to be a wise steward of the immense family business. Soon after taking charge of Hazard's, George wrested control of the ironworks from his ambitious, irresponsible brother.
Amputation of Orry's left arm (leg in the mini-series) put him into a brooding, reclusive mood for a time. But as he trained himself to run the plantation and perform two-handed tasks with one, his outlook revived and the friendship with George renewed itself. Orry stood up as best man when George married Constance Flynn, the Roman Catholic girl he'd met in Texas while en route to Mexico. Then George's younger brother, Billy, decided he wanted to attend the academy, while Orry, desperatly seeking some way to save his orphaned young cousin Charles from a wastrel's life, persuaded him to seek Academy appointment. The friendship of Charles Main and Billy Hazard, already acquainted, soon replicated that of the two old grads.
In the last decade of peace, many Northerners and Southerners, despite ever fiercer rhetoric, ever sharper threats from political leaders and public figures on both sides, remained personal friends. It was so with these two families. Mains came North, Hazards traveled South - though not without difficulties in each case.
George's sister Virgilia, who had carried her passionate abolitionism across an invisible line into extremism, had nearly undone the friendship by helping a Main slave escape during a Hazard visit to the plantation.
Orry's beautiful, unprincipled sister, Ashton, had fancied Billy for a while, but he soon saw the fine and genuine qualities of Ashton's younger sister, Brett. As headstong and crazed as Virgilia in some ways, the rejected Ashton had waited for her moment of vengeance; she conspired to have Billy murdered in a trumped-up duel not two hours after he married Brett at Mont Royal. Cousin Charles had dealt with that plot as his direct cavarly officer's way - rather violent, it was - and Orry banished Ashton and her fire-eater husband, James Huntoon, from the Main land forever.
Virgilia's black lover, the slave whose escape she'd assisted, had been slain with others of John Brown's murderous gang at Harpers Ferry. Virgilia, at the scene and panic-stricken, had fled back home and was thus at Belvedere the night Orry made his perilous visit. It was this visit and the circumstances leading to it that a grieved and thoughtful George pondered as he rode up the last bit of steep road to Belvedere.
Orry's iconoclastic older brother, Cooper, had usually disagreed with most Southerners regarding their peculiar institution. In contrast to an economy based on the land, and the working of it by human property, he pointed to the example of the North - not perfect by any means, but in step with the new world - wide age of industrialism. In the North, free workers were speeding into a prosperous future to the hum of machines, not dragging a load of rusty methods and ideologies as heavy as wrist cuffs and leg manacles, and fully has hampering. As for the traditional apology of Cooper's state and religion - that slaves were more secure, therefore happier, than Northern factory workers fastened by invisible chains to huge, hammering machines - he laughed that off. A factory worker might indeed starve to death on what the owners paind him. But he could not be bought or sold like mere chattel. He could always walk away, and no posse would ride in pursuit; no laborer would be recaptured, flogged, and hung from the flywheen of his great machine.
Cooper sought to establish a shipbuilding industry in Charleston and had envisioned, even started to construct, a huge iron vessel patterened after one designed by the British engineering genius Brunel. george had put capital into the venture, as much for the sake of friendship and belief in Cooper's principles as for the possibility of quick profit, which was slim.
In the final days of Sumter's survival as a Union bastion, with war no longer a doubtful question, Orry had gathered up as much cash as he could by morgagingfamily property. It amounted to six hundred fifty thousand dollars of the original one million George had invested. Despite Orry's pronounced Southern accent, he had undertaken to carry the money to Lehigh Station in a small, plain satchel, by train. The riskwas enormous, yet he came. Because of his friendship and becuase of a debt of honor.
The night the two friends met, Virgilia furtively summoned the mob - most certainly to lynch the visitor. But the attempt failed, and Orry had gotten off safely on a late train and now was - where? South Carolina? If he reached home safely, he had at least one chance for happiness. Madeline LaMotte, the woman whom Orry had loved, as she had loved him despite her imprisonment in a disastous marriage, had rushed to Mont Royal to warn of the conspiracy against Billy's life. Once there,in defiance of the husband who had diliberaty and systematically mistreated her for years, she stayed.
The after math of Sumter forced other decisions, however uncertain or emotional. Charles had enlisted in a South Carolina legion of cavalry after resigning from the United States Army. His best friend, Billy, remained with the Union engineers. And Billy's Southern - born wife, Brett was living at Lehigh Station. The personal world of the Mains and the Hazards hung in a percarious balance as massive, threatening, unpredictable forces gathered.
Love and War