Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 569
Penn Hapgood, a young Quaker schoolmaster in a Tennessee town. It is 1861, and Penn’s antislavery convictions make him unpopular among the Secessionists. He steadfastly defends his convictions and aids others with antislavery and Unionist leanings, though his reversals include being tarred and feathered, having to hide out in a secret cave, undergoing capture and just missing hanging, and being captured again and almost bayoneted. At last, his chief enemy is taken and forced to sign a safe-conduct pass for Penn and his party. Reaching Pennsylvania by way of Ohio, Penn enlists in the Union Army; his heroism earns him the name “The Fighting Quaker.”
Mr. Villars, a blind clergyman who shelters Penn and thus incurs the enmity of the Secessionists. His trials include imprisonment. He escapes and is guided to the cave, where he hides with the others. The safe-conduct pass gets him to Ohio.
Salina Sprowl, Mr. Villars’ older daughter. Her vacillating attitude toward her estranged Secessionist husband constantly puts her friends in jeopardy.
Lysander Sprowl, Salina’s worthless husband. Her weakness informs him that the antislavery group is safe in hiding. In order to undo her mischief, she has to set fire to her father’s house to create confusion. Later, she makes it possible for Sprowl to escape from the cave where he is held prisoner. Returning with an attacking force, he is shot by his wife. She is bayoneted by Confederate soldiers.
Virginia Villars, the younger daughter of Mr. Villars and loved by a Secessionist planter whom she rejects. She too hides in the cave; in the end, she reaches Ohio with her father.
Augustus Blythewood, a planter in love with Virginia. He is the relentless leader of the Secessionists. In the attack on the cave, he captures Virginia and takes advantage of the opportunity to plead his suit again. She spurns him; captured in turn, he signs a safe-conduct pass for all of Penn’s group.
Carl, a German boy and a friend of Penn. He is accepted in the Confederate Army in place of Penn, who was faced with the choice of volunteering or hanging. As a Confederate soldier, Carl has many opportunities to help his friends in escaping. He goes with them to Ohio and thence with Penn to Pennsylvania, where they enlist in the same regiment.
Farmer Stackridge, a staunch Unionist. He befriends Penn and later brings a band of Unionists to the cave, which they fortify and help to defend.
Toby, a freed slave in the minister’s household and a loyal friend to Penn and his fellow Unionists.
Pomp, a magnificent and heroic slave, owned by Blythewood. Reaching the North with the others, he serves the Union as a scout.
Cudjo, a fellow runaway slave. He and Pomp hide and befriend Penn in a cave previously known only to escaping slaves. Cudjo’s body is left in the cave.
Silas Ropes, a bully and the leader of a Secessionist mob. He causes much trouble before the attack on the cave in which he and Cudjo kill each other.
Dan Pepperill, a poor white man who befriends a slave and is flogged in consequence. Penn’s aiding him is instrumental in making Penn unpopular.
Mrs. Sprowl, Penn’s landlady and Lysander’s mother.
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