Johnnie loves two things: his train and the lovely Annabelle Lee. When the Civil War breaks out he enlists as a soldier, but it is decided that he is too valuable as an engineer. Annabelle thinks it is because he is a coward. When Union spies capture Johnnie with Annabelle on board, Johnnie 'The General' must rescue both his loves.
The film boasts the most sustained passages of virtuoso slapstick genius Keaton ever shot, and an unflagging momentum that lets it get away with being a reel longer than most of his best-known pictures.