Episode 1. North and South Book One begins in 1842 were Southerner Orry Main (Patrick Swayze) goes off to West Point were he meets a good friend named George Hazard (James Read) from the North, who will end up being his long-time friend. Orry also falls in love with the lovely Madeline Fabray (Lesley-Anne Down) Who was already committed to another man, Justin LaMotte (David Carradine), but her love for Orry will never die.
In Episode 2, Orry and George complete their West Point education, then fight side by side in the Mexican-American War. Orry is seriously wounded at Churubusco, when an arch enemy of George and Orry from West Point, named Elkanah Bent (Philip Casnoff) sends them on a suicide run. But the intervention of a savvy Army surgeon (Robert Mitchum) saves Orry's leg from amputation. The surgeon also intervenes in George's life, by introducing his daughter to the young soldier, Who ends up being his future bride.
In Episode 3, the heightened tensions between the North and South are beginning to grow, where mean while Orry and George have gained power over their family fortunes do to deaths in the families. Orry and Madeline can no longer deny their romantic fates. Other destinies also unfold when George's corrupted sister Virgilia (Kirstie Alley) give an abolitionist speech that puts down Orry and all other Southerners.
In Episode 4, Southerners express outrage over Uncle Tom's Cabin. In addition, the Main and Hazard families are driven apart when fiery abolitionist Virgilia Hazard helps free a slave from the south and later marries him. But the 1856 West Point graduation of a second generation of Mains and Hazards helps restore the bond between Orry and George when George's younger brother Billy (John Stockwell) and Orry's cousin Charles (Lewis Smith) graduate.
In Episode 5, The tensions between the North and South are getting out of hand. The differents between the two sides are tarring the nation in half. Orry boards a home-bound train and rides into the fateful confrontation at Harper's Ferry, where abolitionist John Brown (Johnny Cash) seizes a federal arsenal. Miles away Orry's enemy Elkanah Bent finds out some secrets about Orry's beloved Madeline.
In Episode 6, the Main's and Hazard's, separated by ways of life, face the prospects of separation by war. For many Southerners, the election of Abraham Lincoln (Hal Holbrook) means a confrontation is inevitable, an expectation that becomes reality when Fort Sumter is attacked. During this time, Orry Main reunites with Madeline and bids what may be a final farewell to his friend George Hazard as one goes to fight for the North and the other for the South. Also Orry's little sister Brett (Genie Francis) and her new husband, George's younger brother Billy, are separated as Billy goes off to fight for the North with his brother George.
In Episode 1, Orry Main (Patrick Swayze) and his cousin Charles (Lewis Smith) leave Mont Royal (there home plantation) to serve in the Confederate army, while George Hazard (James Read) and his younger Brother Billy (Parker Stevenson) are stationed in Washington D.C. as Union officers. In Richmond, Orry's sister Ashton (Terri Garber), pairs with Orry's nemesis Elkanah Bent (Philip Casnoff) in a profiteering scheme-and as his lover.
In Episode 2, both the North and the South realize that the war they're fighting may be longer and greater than either side had anticipated. When calamity strikes Mont Royal, Orry rushes back home to rescue Madeline (Lesley-Anne Down) from here ex-husband, and then finally marries here. Orry later owes his own rescue from Union troops to George, who betrays his own military duty to save his friend's life.
In Episode 3, President Abraham Lincoln (Hal Holbrook) releases his Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in the Confederate states. Without their field hands, the womenfolk at Mont Royal must harvest their plantation crops themselves. They are visited unexpectedly by Ashton, who stays just long enough to carry out the ruthless plot that she and Elkanah Bent had devised.
In Episode 4, the war continues to show no mercy for the Hazards or the Mains. George is captured and held in a confederate prison camp run by the sadistic Captain Tuner (Wayne Newton), there he is beaten both physically and spiritually. Meanwhile, seriously wounded by Union gunfire, Orry comes under the nursing of George's sister Virgilia (Kirstie Alley), who had once wished him dead.
In Episode 5, Orry and Charles attempt to fool the Libby Prison guards into releasing George into their custody for "interrogation." also under precarious circumstances, Virgilia must flee her nursing post to elude murder charges of a Confederate soldier. And Madeline is sought out by Elkanah Bent, the only man who knows the dark secret that compelled her to abandon her marriage to Orry.
In Episode 6, the end of the war draws near at Five Forks in Virginia, were George and Orry face each other as enemies on the battlefield, in the ultimate test of their friend. Later Orry must search for Madeline who has left him so not to put shame to the family. And George must find out if Orry made it through the war, or the war will never be over for him. Meanwhile Billy and Charles head back to Mont Royal to be with family now that the war is over.
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