During the Civil War Union Corporal John McBurney (Clint Eastwood) is wounded and is discovered in the woods by a young girl from a school for women in Louisiana. With a broken leg he is nursed back to health with the help of the school owner Martha Farnsworth (Geraldine Page) as the rest of the women tend to him, fascinated by the close proximity of a full-grown man. McBurney is aware he is behind enemy lines and manages to charm the women into allowing him to stay, even going so far as to pretend he is a visiting southern officer. One of the teachers at the school, Edwina (Elizabeth Hartman) through her tending to McBurney falls in love with the man and the soldier manipulates the woman’s emotions convincing her that he loves her. McBurney also seduces Martha understanding that she misses her brother who helped her run the school and also held an unusual place as romantic partner. One of the older students Carol (Jo Ann Harris) approaches McBurney and openly shows her affections for him, and seeking new sensual experiences, convinces him to make love to her. When McBurney is discovered by the other women in Carol’s room they make a concerted effort to insure that the wounded soldier will not be allowed to return to Union Troops now occupying the southern territories of Louisiana.
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