In 1875, nearly forty years after the Mexican War, Mexicans and Texans are still spilling blood over ownership of the Nueces Strip--a hot, dry stretch of coastal prairie that bushwackers and horse thieves have turned into a lawless hell. Captain L.H. McNelly, a complex and determined Confederate veteran, is brought into the Nueces Strip for one purpose: to keep the peace. His measures are harsh and controversial--but McNelly wasn't sent in to be popular. In this boilerpot of killing and racial hatred, can any man bring lasting peace?