Confederate officers regularly stop at Tara on their way home. One of them, Will Benteen, turns into an essential part of Tara. Will is a cracker, a lower-class white agriculturist who possessed a restricted number of slaves. He lost one leg in a fight, and his crops have been destroyed. He has no place to go, yet he is nice and responsible, and makes a place for himself at Tara. Mammy refers to him as a response to a prayer, and Scarlett appears to concur. He builds up a nice relationship with her, and she comes to rely upon him. Over time, he appears to be developing feelings for Carreen, who is still in the period of mourning.
Towards the end of this part, Melanie, Scarlett, and Will are chatting on the farm when Ashley shows up towards the far end of the drive. When Melanie races to meet him, Scarlett plans to be directly behind her — yet Will stops her. He perceives her emotions for Ashley; he does not pass judgment on her, yet he needs to protect both her and Melanie.