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Tom Dooley returns from war to find his wife married, which becomes the nation's first publicized crime of passion.

After the Civil War, Tom Dooley comes home to find the love of his life, Anne Foster, married to an older man. Anne, who had promised Tom she would wait for him, married for money while Tom was away. When he returns, she makes it clear that she wants to resume their relationship. A hurt and angry Tom begins a romance with sweet Laura Foster, Anne's first cousin. However, Anne's hold on Tom is a strong one, and after a time the relationship between Tom and Anne is rekindled. Meanwhile, a few months later Laura finds out that she is pregnant. Tom struggles to do the right thing for his unborn child. He finally agrees to meet Laura and run off to Tennessee and get married. Tom visits Anne the night before he is to leave with Laura and tells Anne of his plans. What happens next turns a lover's triangle into the nation's first highly publicized crimes of passion.