A group of young students, their teacher, and the headmistress of girls’ school in Virginia take in a wounded Union soldier, named John McBurney, during the American Civil War. They decide to allow him to heal at their school rather than turn him over as an enemy soldier to the Confederacy. They mend his badly injured leg.
McBurney senses the attention he receives from each member of the school and manipulates many of them. He reciprocates the flirtatious behavior he receives from Alicia, a teenaged student. He convinces Edwina, the lonely teacher, that he has fallen in love with her. He gets into the good graces of Martha, the headmistress of the school, by performing menial labor around their school.
The women begin to recognize his indiscretions. One night, he asks Edwina to wait for him in her bedroom. She finds him in bed with the teenager, Alicia. In a fit of rage, Edwina pushes him down flights of stairs. It knocks him unconscious and further damages his leg.
Martha convinces Edwina that his leg must be amputated so the leg doesn’t become infected so he doesn’t die. McBurney’s leg is amputated by the women.
Upon realizing what the women have done to him, McBurney is enraged and threatens them using Martha’s gun. Martha convinces the girls that the only way to end McBurney’s terror to kill him. At a send-off dinner, they serve him poisonous mushrooms, which kills him within seconds.