Set in upstate New York in 1869, Moonlight Sonata tells the story of a young woman (Hetty Griswold) caught between two men. On the one side stands her husband, Archie Griswold, Chief Signalman of the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad, a jealous man all too ready to believe the worst of his wife. On the other side stands Chauncey Miller, a former suitor who left off his suit in 1861 to answer Lincoln’s first call for volunteers at the outbreak of the Civil War.
Hetty had resolved to wait for Chauncy’s return, but after one letter, she heard nothing more from him during the entire war and for two years after Lee’s surrender. Giving him up for dead, she married Archie only to see Chauncey reappear, crazed and crippled after four years as a prisoner of war and four years seeking revenge on his captors.
Chauncy wishes to reclaim her and, to do so, is willing to make her a widow.
The struggle between the two men, Hetty’s own struggle to maintain her balance unfold against the backdrop of the violent attempt by Jay Gould and James Fisk, Jr., of the Erie Railroad to take over the Albany & Susquehanna, the affair known in history as The Susquehanna War.