A Thunder of Drums (1961) Movie Script

'No, no, no.'
'No! No!'
Well, let's get on down there
so you can water these horses.
Before that patrol back there
catches up with us
with that stinkin' dead meat.
Let's don't rush it, Hanna.
You know, it just don't
look right to me somehow.
It's gettin' on
towards noon, and
'there ain't no dinner smoke
coming from that chimbley.'
Well, I was just sayin',
these horses need water.
And them dead troopers
are six feet already.
Won't last till we get back
to Fort Canby
I'll tell you that. Come on.
Anybody home?
Tom Detweiler?
You know, since that
drunken fight we had yesterday
I'm as jumpy as
some old deaf virgin.
Hold it there.
Why, it's a little
Detweiler girl.
Hello, sis.
You ain't scared of me, are ya?
My golly!
She sure does
look scared, alright.
Where's your mamma
and your daddy?
Lieutenant Porter?
Maybe you and Sergeant Rodermill
better go inside.
We tried to get
the little girl to speak
but she just
wouldn't say a word.
Then we took a look back in here
and saw what they had done
to her mama and sister.
Tousled both women
and killed them.
Shut up, Hanna.
'Stay out of that
room in there.'
Lieutenant Porter?
Chances are this little girl
never will speak again.
I seen it happen before, sir.
No men here?
Detweiler and his son?
Yeah, we found
both of their bodies
out behind the shack.
Also the tracks
of ten hostile ponies.
Well, I'll stay
here with two men
to bring the Paymaster through.
You force-march the bodies on to
Fort Canby, Sergeant Rodermill.
Yes, sir.
And take
the little girl with you.
Yes, sir. I'm all done.
Hanna, you bring
the child out to me.
Two married men to dress
the women for burial.
You five and Robinson
hand over the range
to the man on your left.
- Hanna?
- Yes, sir.
Mount up and ride out on point.
Woo-wee, they sure do stink.
'Who goes there?'
Sergeant Rodermill.
Lieutenant Porter's patrol.
Come on, son. Up here.
Baker, this child's name
is Detweiler.
She's suffering from
shock and exhaustion.
Come in!
Mr. Gresham, that's
Lieutenant Porter's patrol
out there with four men dead.
Who were they?
'Corporal Griesshammer, sir.'
'Troopers Cudlet..'
'and Gantry.'
Porter stayed at Detweiler's
to pick up the Paymaster.
The First Sergeant
is outside, sir.
- Yes, sir.
- What happened, Rodermill?
What did Mr. Porter
let himself get into?
Is the captain
asking me to report
over Lieutenant Porter's
head, sir?
You are my First Sergeant,
Now, what did
you people walk into?
Well, we didn't, sir.
They walked into us.
Always the same old thing, sir.
Departmental standing orders
which forbids us
attacking hostiles...
How did the four men get killed?
Well, sir.
With two days gone..
Coming down south
from the paradise..
We saw signs
of 30 mounted Comanches.
Now, as far as I can figure
I driven a few off right
a few off left, hit out
let us pass
and hit us from the rear
and running fight
out of nowhere.
Well, outside of being sucked in
were you satisfied
with the fight?
Yes, sir.
Pour yourself coffee.
Yes, sir.
Comanches, Rodermill?
Well, the first thing
we found was
their open fire pits
fresh horsehide
baked horse bones.
There was plenty of game around.
But you know, Comanches,
they'll eat horse meat
no matter what.
'That Detweilwer, sir.'
They found the homesteaders'
wife and daughter violated.
And fresh murdered yesterday.
Mr. Gresham,
Comanches rape their own
that's their idea of courtship
but they don't generally
fancy white women.
- Yes, sir.
- Yes, sir?
Well, were they or
were they not Comanches?
Well, it is up
a little far north
and west for Comanches, sir.
There's some doubt
in your mind then?
Not until it was some doubt
in the Captain's mind, sir.
I'm the First Sergeant
like you say.
The Garrison Women
have got the word, sir.
Mrs. Griesshammer
and Gantry's wife.
That's all, Rodermill.
'Yes, sir.'
Take the coffee with you.
Yes, sir.
Gresham, you handle the brave
and comforting words
you're the officer on guard.
I'll do the Commanding Officer
stint at the..
Funeral services.
Yes, sir.
This should give you
a second thought
about your own marriage.
It's a little bit late to take
your advice, Captain.
Is Tracey already out here?
It's not my advice, mister.
It's a rule of the game.
Bachelors make
the best soldiers.
All they have to lose
is their loneliness.
"Grant that
they may not languish
"in fruitless
and unavailing grief
or sorrow as those
who have no hope."
Lieutenant Porter
with Paymaster's detachment.
'Yes, sir.'
"He leadeth me
besides the still waters.
"He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths
of righteousness."
You two help with
the Paymaster's detail.
Thank you, McQuade.
Riding the wagon
in from Detweilers
eased my arm considerably.
I had to come in on a horse.
I was born here.
The winds just turned.
You can smell
the oven bake of the desert.
'Alright, you men,
lend a hand here.'
'Get these trunks off here.'
- 'Get 'em off. Get in there.'
- Hello, Rodermill.
Well, how long it's gonna
take you to remember me?
Well, if I move slow, sir.
Carl McQuade was a CO here
and you were his son.
I remember, sir.
How are you? Sergeant?
Well, I ain't gettin'
any younger sir.
Well, you were,
Senior Corporal then.
Now, that could be.
If I remember right..
You was
a little curly haired boy.
'Move out to stable.'
Little old curly
headed boy, so were you.
Care to step
into headquarters, sir?
Captain Maddocks
will be in shortly.
He's reading services
at the funeral.
Captain Maddocks?
Yeah, I,
I don't place him.
Must be new since my time here?
In here, maybe.
Captain Maddocks ain't new.
Not since anybody's time.
He's been around this army
for quite a spell, sir.
You care to step
into headquarters?
Step in, sir.
Stand easy, mister.
Well, I-I haven't seen
a tailored uniform for..
Eight years.
McQuade, sir,
First Lieutenant, Second Cavalry
reporting for duty under arms.
Letter order 179. 19 May, 1870.
Headquarters, department
of South New Orleans, Louisiana.
I am aware of your name, mister.
Your orders preceded you
I endorsed them unfavorably.
- Unfavorably, sir?
- That's correct.
And you're reporting in here
a week ahead of time.
Out here, don't ever
jump the gun, mister.
Don't be early.
And don't be late.
Since you graduated..
You've been on provo duty
and Washington
got you promoted, mister
a good 10 years
ahead of your time.
I needed an experienced
First Lieutenant.
Well, I was born here, sir.
I was raised in this country.
You were, were you?
Well, tell me, mister.
What is the usual sign
of the Llano Estacado Comanches?
Say on..
Moccasins, tobacco pouches?
Alright, sir. You've got me.
First crack out of the bag.
I... don't remember.
Well, you tell me
when you do remember.
Yes, sir. I will.
But right now I think
I can tell you where those.
Detweilers welch Comanches are.
The raiding party that
butchered those two women.
Coming in on the Paymaster's
wagon, sir, I..
Saw Indian sign leading
south-west all the way.
If they're headed
for Kayson Wash
it's high ground
and it's timber.
But Porter wanted to give me
just half a platoons, sir, and...
Yes, sir.
Now, you get
that lovely brothel's
stench of glory
out of your nostrils.
On this post a Green Officer
leads nothing
and commands nothing!
Until I have hand-tooled
and troop-schooled him myself!
You're aware of what they did
to those two women, sir?
Yes, I am, mister.
And I am also aware
that I have one under-strength
troop to control
this entire district.
Now, you button up!
There are three things
a man can do to relieve
the boredom of these
lonely one troop posts.
He can drink himself
into a straight-jacket.
He can get his throat cut
chasing squaws.
Or he can dedicate himself
to the bleak
monastic life of a soldier
and become a good officer.
I hope you choose the latter.
That's all, mister.
I remember the sign
of the Llano Estacado Comanche
is the flattened circle
of the moon.
Keep trying, mister
but don't boil a pot over.
In the meantime, you will
attend Troop School
with the enlisted recruits.
And that's all, mister.
Lieutenant McQuade.
Trooper Hanna, sir.
Detailed as dog-robber
to the lieutenant.
Which set of quarters, Hanna?
Bachelors Quarters Two, sir.
The other half is
Lieutenant Gresham's.
- Gresham?
- Yes, sir.
Lieutenant Gresham's
gettin' married.
And you should see the..
Young lady
he's gonna marry, sir.
- Why should I?
- Well, honest to God, sir.
I'm telling you
just a look at her
she pulls your guts up
tight inside.
You get ice cold
under the armpits, sir.
And your stomach knots.
I'd say you're at her
pretty badly, Hanna.
Well, a man goes
crazy out here, sir
all the time
thinkin' about women.
Wantin' 'em, rememberin'.
Knock it off, Hanna.
She's an officer's lady.
I swept already, lieutenant.
And I'll fetch some water..
And firewood right after
recall, sir.
Just wait till you see her, sir.
Never mind the firewood,
I can't use you.
'Return to troop duty.'
Yes, sir.
Gresham? Join me in a touch?
You got a new neighbor.
I'm glad it shakes you, Curt.
I've known you were coming
ever since you orders got here.
It's you who's marrying Gresham.
What could you
know about marriage?
You ran from it.
I didn't. I had no choice.
I was ordered.
Very convenient,
slave driving army.
At least,
you could've let me know.
I sent the messenger
to your house.
- Didn't he explain?
- Nobody came.
It wasn't till weeks later
that I found out you were gone.
Don't Tracey, please.
You didn't even know
if I was pregnant.
Well, how could I know anything?
You never answered my letters.
I wouldn't answer them.
Don't you ever knock on doors?
I had no reason
to suppose it necessary.
Gresham is my friend.
You put an overtone
in that remark.
Most definitely I have.
There's enough trouble
out here, McQuade
without stirring up more
in the official family.
You and Miss Hamilton
will tell Gresham.
Not by any decision of yours.
Or I must tell him.
A well brought up young man
aren't you, Porter.
Straight out of the book.
A gentleman.
Well, if you are, you opened
that door and you saw nothing.
Now get out
and close it or I'll break
every bone in your body.
I'll meet that threat.
If I were Tom Gresham..
I'd kill you.
Porter's a jackass.
He won't breathe a word.
And that's all that worries you?
Don't play women's games
with me, Tracey.
Didn't take you too long
to forget all about me
but you can't forget me
now that I'm here.
Yes, I can.
On the same small post..
You'll marry to Gresham
knowing every moment
what we have for each other?
It can't be, you can't
go through with it.
You'll tell him, or I will.
Just break
a man's heart like that.
Scandalize myself by coming
2000 miles to marry a man
and then not marry him.
'Dear, lovely, selfish Tracey.'
It's an eye opener
to a girl when she finds
that her body can
trap her decency.
I've hated you
for a long time, Curt.
I hate myself even more.
God, go away!
There's no need to take notes on
what I'm telling you, McQuade.
It's all in the Standing Orders.
Now as junior officer,
you'll start inventory
at the quartermaster store
this afternoon.
This is an addition
to troop duty.
Now, Rodermill..
Do you want to,
run Lieutenant McQuade
down on this,
'inventory business?'
Yes, sir.
Well, sir..
Here at Canby..
We operate on about nothin'.
And each quarter,
we gradually get less.
But we keep sending
the requisitions in
and keep hopin'
and sometimes we're surprised.
What tribes do they call
treaty tribes these days?
It's an Indian
agency designation.
None really.
Odds and ends of...
' ...half a dozen tribes, who
can't go it alone any longer.'
So we feed them.
Hanna, what's that
picket rope for?
Squaw line, sir.
Today is payday.
'It's what?'
Squaw line.
Today is payday, sir.
On payday, sir. We detail
our 60 totallers to the guard.
Recall sounds at noon.
We put a sensory
on that squaw line there
'to keep the drinking men
from getting their throats cut'
'in the Indian camp.'
Works pretty good too.
'Cause round about
the third bottle
those squaws get to lookin'
mighty pretty.
That is if you're
a drinkin' man.
Lieutenant Gresham,
you're a senior lieutenant.
May I ask you a question?
Well, I won't guarantee
an answer.
When my orders arrived here
they were endorsed unfavorably.
Why didn't Captain Maddocks
want me?
Alright, McQuade.
This is a small army.
It gossips about its own.
The word is out,
that you have been
on provo duty in the east
since you got
out of the academy.
'Cause General McQuade saw fit
to keep his only son
in a safe billet.
My father didn't get
his star behind a desk
he got it under Sheridan.
A son is a man's
immortality, McQuade.
There can be a lot of
the clucking mother hen
in some men's fathers.
There's another word out on you.
That, Yuri's had you ordered
out of New York fast
when it got around to him
that you were playing around
with the ladies.
- 'Lieutenant Gresham.'
- 'Mrs. Scarborough.'
Tracey, my dear.
Mrs. Scarborough,
Lieutenant McQuade.
He just reported in for duty.
We do need young men so badly
on this stuffy old post.
- Ms. Scarborough.
- Tracey, Lieutenant McQuade.
- My fiance, Miss Hamilton.
- Miss Hamilton.
Lieutenant McQuade.
The poor dear girl,
she's so much in love with you.
You lucky, lucky man to have
her come all these miles.
'Yes, I know.'
It must be hard
to get used to this
loneliness and isolation.
Denton, sir. WC, C Troop.
Denton, three months, $15.
Total $45.
Mister... you picked up trail
of approximately
30 mounted hostiles.
Yes, sir. At the base
of these foothills.
They bled off behind
and hit you for four casualties.
In this area, sir.
Marks of ten ponies
at the wells?
Yes, sir. Where
the Detweilers were killed.
That's a day's ride
from Fort Canby.
Question, mister.
Were the Detweiler raiders
part of your 30
or an addition to them?
In other words..
Did the Detweiler raiders
detach from your 30
or do we have 40 or more
hostiles loose in this district?
I can't say, sir.
And because you can't say,
I've gotta send Gresham
out on a scout to Kayson Wash.
Circling to the south, sir.
Why to draw us out on aback
to Texas' Comanche chase?
That has been tried.
- Sir, I realize what...
- That's all, mister.
Drortmander, three month, $15
loss of equipment
due to the United States, $32.
Total $13.
Hanna, sir, RL, C Troop.
Hanna, six months, $15,
stoppages, loss of equipment
troop punishment, a $104.
'You owe
the United States, $14.'
'No payment.'
- 'Recall.'
- Whoo-hoo!
You pay up your
jawbone credit first. Cash.
And it's six piece a bottle
while it lasts. Cash.
- Go ahead.
- 'Three dollars.'
Let the two quart men in first.
'Two dollars.'
There he goes.
'Take your time, men.
You're gonna get drunk.'
Now, any of you damn Yankees
care to fight a well born
southern gentleman.
'Watch where you're going!'
- Any trouble?
- No trouble, sergeant.
How you doin', son?
Well, I'm doin' fine
but, they're not.
Nobody died.
What are you doing out so late?
Don't be frightened.
Come on now.
Is she alright?
She's the little Detweiler girl.
She can't talk anymore.
Mrs. Yates took her in.
God, I can't stand
this horrible country.
She, she slipped out again?
Here, I'll take her back.
Now, by next coach,
she'll have to be sent east.
To an asylum.
Harness 'em up there.
Aren't these
the immigrant families?
- Yes, sir.
- What's their story?
All the men are
too damn mad to talk, sir.
Leavin' their crops
and Snake Bend.
Women folk forced the men here
for safety when they heard
about what happened to those
women at Detweiler's.
What are troopers doing
in here before recall?
Detailed to help
the settlers, sir.
Alright, sergeant.
Would you hand me
some pins, aunty. Thank you.
I wouldn't
put it up much higher.
Is Mrs. Scarborough
bringing more decoration?
How many elegant affairs
you must have known
in New York, Tracey.
Well, at least,
our hearts are in this.
I'm sure they are,
Mrs. Scarborough.
You know, if only we could have
known when the circuit minister
would ride through
to marry you and Tom.
But then of course,
out here we never have been
very sure of anything.
- Well, hello, ladies.
- My, Mr. McQuade.
Tell me is there anything
the officer of the guard
can do to help?
So nice of you to offer.
- Hello, Lieutenant.
- 'Well, hello, Camden.'
Is this a duty call?
Why not?
Or a scouting party?
Tell me, was..
Troop D stationed here
as well as Troop C once?
Yes, it was supposed
to have been a squadron command
but then it was decided not.
There was no major available.
And Captain Maddocks
couldn't be promoted
because there was somethin'
way back in his record.
Gertrude, my husband insists
we do not talk about that.
Lieutenant McQuade, aren't
you excited about the party?
Yes, and you're doing
such a wonderful job.
'You know, my new dress that I'm
going to make for the party.'
'Well, I have the most
beautiful gray.'
'It looks like this..'
'What are you going to wear?
Have you decided?'
'Well, I-I got a pattern
through the mail.'
'And I'm going to try
and cut it out.'
Hey, them ain't women
them are kids.
I know that.
But they got an older sister.
She's built
like a brick court house.
Boy, that Tully.
Sometimes I wish
I had saved my money
and bought me a guitar.
Stop singling me out, Curt.
Leave your window open tonight.
I'll head out due south
and follow every trail I cut.
Any special instructions
on that, sir?
Examine all
pony droppings, Gresham.'
'That's the best trick
they've got in their bag.'
'I want Comanches
to make a horse perform'
'on sun dried roots,
man chewed leaves'
'and cured fish.'
Now, as for the Apache, well..
You know, he's a past master
making his pony tail lies
about where he was yesterday
and the day before.
'Is there some thought, sir,
that the Apaches'
might have a part in this too?
Unless you raise it, Mr. Porter.
I'm still accepting your say so
that it was Comanches
that hit you here
in the running fight
and Comanche's that worked
those Detweiler women over.
There was never any doubt
in my mind, sir.
Out here you live on doubt, sir.
No further questions.
Unless you have something, sir.
Good luck, Gresham.
I'm gonna warn
the western homesteaders
before Gresham returns.
Mr. McQuade, let's see
what kind of
a troop officer you are.
- Set up the courier detail.
- Yes, sir.
This arm, sir,
will be no drawback, I can...
I don't care that
about your arm!
Four troopers were killed
on your last patrol
and I do care about dead men!
McQuade heads the detail.
Hersh. Spencer.
Head out for the blacksmith's
shop. Race to it.
Lead Mike out
to the rear corral.
On foot.
Maybe it better lead you out.
- Yeah.
- Get out there. Get out.
Get out, get out, get out.
I'm setting up the courier
detail to warn the Rim Ranchers.
This is how I want it
on men, ammunition
and rations, Sergeant Rodermill.
Yes, sir.
'I'm a little
curly headed boy..'
That's the second time
I didn't hear that.
Now let's not make a mistake
and try for a third.
Maybe the lieutenant
will like to look
at the post courier plan.
We have standing orders
on this, sir.
Carry out my orders, Rodermill.
Yes, sir.
Hanna, are you stable guard?
- 'Nope.'
- You mean, no sir, don't you?
After last night..
Was she worth $20 a month out of
your pay, lieutenant?
Not to tell Lieutenant Gresham.
- Why you stinkin' back...
- Now gently, lieutenant.
Now gently!
Alright, lieutenant.
I'm gonna cut you up into bits
and then we'll talk business.
Mr. McQuade.
I take it for granted
that my officers
have physical courage,
so I don't condone
their fighting enlisted men
to prove it.
By the captain's leave, sir.
There weren't no fight.
One of these doggone horses
back here kicked me, sir.
- Get out of this, Hanna.
- Yes, sir.
Mr. McQuade..
I take physical courage
for granted.
But I don't take it for granted
that my young officers
have brains enough except
to read post standing orders.
You've passed the word
to the first sergeant
for two sections
on this courier detail
fourteen-hundred rounds
of ammunition
and eight days' rations.
What the hell do you think
I command here? A Brigade!
- Sir, I can...
- Sir, you, nothing.
The courier plan
is in post standing orders
and you should have read it.
One officer, two men
two days only to get up
the 12 Rim Ranches.
Get away ammunition only
and a full oat ration.
Yes, sir.
You're relieved
the courier detail.
You're in no condition
to sit a horse.
Get yourself cleaned up.
Good evening, Drortmander.
Good evening, sir.
- Carry on.
- Yes, sir.
I wanted a prisoner
to identify that tribe by
and I didn't get one.
And you, mister..
You emptied that gun
like a wahoo cowpoke.
Save a couple rounds.
You always need 'em.
One more thing..
As a commanding officer
I have the right
to leave the post
anytime I want to.
You don't.
So another time,
don't be a fool.
I wasn't a fool, sir.
I had the right
to leave the post too
the minute you left.
Now, how's that again, mister?
Well, my promotion
to first lieutenant
antedates Porter's by six weeks
so with Gresham absent
on scout..
I was automatically
commanding officer
the minute you left, sir.
So as acting commanding officer
I had the right
to the leave the post too
and go after you... sir.
We're both fools.
Damn fools.
Damn it!
- Come in.
- You called, sir?
'Step over to the map, mister.'
Porter's three hours gone
with the two couriers.
Gresham, tell McQuade
what you told me.
He's the only
other officer concern.
We crossed trail about
four hours south of the post
between 50 and 60 hostiles
moving due west.
They moved west, then
they didn't go to Kayson Wash.
Live and learn, hey, mister.
Where did they go then?
On your second guess.
Well, sir,
two places are possible
for timber and water.
The, upper reaches of Snake Bend
or this area in here.
Tell him, Gresham.
They are in the upper reaches
of Snake Bend.
You saw Talking Smoke?
Gresham and I
have seen Talking Smoke
south and west on
the horizon everyday
since the Paymaster got here.
Well, possibly, sir,
a practical exercise like that
might be added to Troop School.
No, mister, that smoke
was there on the horizon
for anybody to see,
that wanted to see it.
With one under strength
troop in this garrison
I don't see any reason for
panicking the non-combatants.
I see, sir, if you're
gonna cut a man's throat in bed
why frighten him to death in
advance by telling him about it?
Gresham, I've gotta
use you again.
There's nobody else here
I can trust with it.
Tomorrow at dawn..
Take one section out..
Couple of pack horses..
Ride like the furies, frighten
the spittin' vinegar out of 'em
and turn 'em all south.
Suppose it doesn't work, sir.
Then, mister, I will call on you
for your third guess.
And in the meantime,
for the social amenities
you may tell Mrs. Scarborough
that she may
have her party tonight.
- That's all.
- Yes, sir.
Miss Hamilton, you are very
lovely tonight.
Thank you, captain.
So nice of you to arrange
for Tom to be here.
Mr. Gresham,
thank you very much.
Good evening,
Lieutenant McQuade.
Hello, Camden.
Artillery punch, Owen.
- Stiffed with burgundy.
- Dear.
This dancing
makes me so out of breath.
Gentlemen, gentlemen.
'Charge your glasses,
and the ladies' glasses.'
Thank you, Hanna.
Now, then..
To the health and happiness
of the handsomest couple
ever to grace Fort Canby.
'Tom Gresham
and Tracy Hamilton.'
Here, here.
'May they..'
'May they have long lives'
'and much much happiness.'
Tom, I hope you're
both very happy.
Well, lieutenant..
Shall we dance?
My pleasure, Camden.
Tell me, why do they call
you "Camden?"
After the battle of Camden.
Don't let that frighten you.
It doesn't. Should it?
I haven't decided yet.
We get the next dance,
young man.
Do me a favor
and give an old lady
a glass of punch, will you?
- Tracy. It's a wonderful party.
- Yes, sir.
Tracy, it's just as exciting
as I knew it would be.
You're a lovely couple.
Thank you so much.
Would you excuse me please?
Well, of course, dear.
- A little punch?
- Good idea.
Yes, why not?
I can't live like this.
I'm not this kind.
Now, tell me, Tracy..
He did that
without your consent.
You've told me.
Gresham, I don't want you
to think she had...
You don't enter into it.
Only Miss Hamilton's reputation.
I'll take her home.
Well, mister..
I find you alone.
With all due respect
to your rank, sir
I don't give a damn
how you find me.
You don't like the cut
of my jib and I'm not exactly
in love with you.
Without knowing me, you endorse
my orders unfavorably
so when I put in
for reassignment
will you endorse favorably?
Not a chance, mister.
You can break..
But you can't quit.
Damn you!
Blast your stinkin'
yellow-bellied army!
May the Lord tear your eyes out!
Wait a minute!
- What is it, man?
- Hostiles.
Hundred Indians hacked up
my whole family.
Look, I..
Will you rot in hell?
Will you rot in hell?
My wife, my kids..
Will you rot in hell?
Hanna, tell Mr. Gresham
to report to me in my quarters.
Yes, sir.
- Denton..
- 'Yes, sir.'
- See to him.
- Yes, sir.
Don't worry, man.
Well, Tracy, we cut
the heart out of him.
I'm so cold inside.
Must be like dying
is from the inside out
getting colder and colder.
Godspeed to you, Thomas Gresham.
All your family has really done
in all the years
you told me about
is-is to breed
a blood stock of..
and I think it's horrible.
But we wear clean shirts..
Whenever we can get
the laundry done.
Unless Mr. Gresham turns south
before he got to Snake Bend
I do not understand why you
or one of your couriers
didn't cross his trail.
We didn't even see
cookfire, sir.
Well, if he turned south
before he reach Snake Bend
you couldn't see his cookfires.
There's high ground in between.
Mr. Porter..
You look worn out.
Turn in.
Thank you, sir.
You read Shakespeare, mister?
Do I what?
"Posture a victory always..
"For we are all born
with a debt to death.
Pay it today
and we don't owe it tomorrow."
Let's find out why Mr. Gresham
headed into the dessert.
- Saddle up, mister.
- Yes, sir.
No sign of Gresham
so far today either.
What's your thought on it?
Is he still alive?
Lieutenant McQuade,
I have three superstitions.
One is I never call
the death turn on a man.
For or against.
Alright, I'll shut up.
But let's get one thing
straight right now
I'll take hazing
and I'll eat stable gurry
from the troop commander,
but I won't take it
from you, top soldier.
Now, McQuade, I'm gonna do
you a favor now.
The old man's given it to you
no worse than you asked
to every other
new joined Lieutenant
whoever worked for him.
Don't take it personal.
He's just poundin'
you down a size.
Makin' you pitch
your own peg hole
like he does to everybody
else, that's all.
No, it's not all.
Captain Maddocks ever served
out here under my father?
Did he?
I never heard
the captain say, sir.
It's me personally
with Captain Maddocks.
You know, I have a feeling
he's paying me off
for my father somehow.
You served under my father
at, Chapultepec..
And you know why.
Why he'd stand barefooted
on a barbed wire fence
and lash a wildcat to death
with a live rattlesnake
but he'll get the job
done every time.
Lieutenant McQuade
I'm gonna do you
another favor now.
I'm gonna tell you the odd teeth
I never heard that last remark.
I don't like officers much.
And I don't have to.
But I gotta trust 'em.
I don't know
what a gentleman is.
But a real one
ain't a back biter.
Ain't nothing but this
stinkin' job
out here in Captain Maddocks.
It wouldn't be possible for him
to let personalities
enter into it.
He's not a young man anymore.
He maybe pettish and finicky
but he ain't vindictive.
Twenty, twenty five
unshod ponies, I make it.
It means they've split up.
They're feeding
the ponies on oats.
Probably Comanche.
And by Gary it is Comanche.
Llano Estacado mark.
Let's push on, find
a bivouac area for the night.
This is your bivouac area
for the night, sir.
Sergeant, dismount
and all settle. Rodermill.
Place on the hill
just before full dark.
Then bring all the mounts in
close in on a picket rope.
- Cookfire, sir?
- Cookfire's out at full dark.
Yes, sir.
Push the men out 400 yards.
Off saddle line the sight
of the guide on me.
Lots of squat fire,
keep 'em low.
Step up, payday
is coming. Dismount!
Lead out.
No sign of Gresham all this
day's march either, right?
No, sir.
Thank you.
You saw that trail we crossed
a couple hours back, sir?
Eighteen ponies, mister,
headed north
crossed our line of march
about 10 o'clock this morning.
I made it, 20-25, sir
crossed about dawn.
I was undoubtedly wrong, sir.
You were, sir.
There are oats
in that trail, sir.
Well, that's quite right,
Mr. McQuade.
You're picking up.
It was a Comanche trail, sir.
Well, now..
Comanche mark, sir.
Flattened circle of the moon.
Llano Estacado mark.
And those oats
they're feeding their ponies
must have been second
cavalry oats.
Mr. Gresham's oats.
Where else will they get oats?
So what's your insinuating
I do, mister?
Is to hot tail it north
on that trail, round up
that party of 18
beat it out of them what they
did to Gresham
and his patrol before they stole
his field issue of oats.
- Is that it?
- Yes, sir, that's exactly it.
This a very good bivouac area,
Mr. McQuade.
And it has a very ripe smell
to go with it.
Must be a dead coyote
on the rye, sir.
Wind shifted to blow it down.
Oats grow wild,
so I've been told, mister.
Wild oats have smaller kernels,
Issue oats are cultivated..
Fat kernels, short snub husks..
Short tassels.
You make a complete study
of the matter
when you have time, mister.
Yes, sir, I will.
And now, you take a deep breath.
Take a deep breath.
Get that smell in your nostrils
and then you tell
meone more time
that it's a dead coyote.
'Alright, Mr. McQuade,
come on down here.'
Come on!
Take a good look, Mr. McQuade.
You smell the smell, mister.
And it was a dead coyote
and that was a military mistake.
You found oats on the trail
and they were issue oats
and that was a military mistake.
This is not a school room,
Mr. McQuade.
Out here when you fail
in a subject
you do not go to the blackboard
and try again.
And that, Mr. McQuade
that is what our graduation
dance looks like out here.
- The Comanches...
- You keep you mouth shut!
You and I wade
into this mess and find out
what mistakes Mr. Gresham
and his men made.
Yes, sir. Lieutenant Gresham.
Well, mister, you're giving
yourself a hard time.
And I'm letting you.
It's in your mind that Gresham
let this thing happen
'cause the heart was gone
out of him.
That night at the party..
You knew, sir,
about Ms. Hamilton and me.
Mister, I'm the troop commander.
I'm paid to know everything.
I have nothing to say, sir.
Well, I do.
I'm a long way
from a Bible thumper.
But one thing I do believe..
The sum total
of man's experience
with morality
as the ten commandments.
We don't try to live by them
we throw away the God-given
chance for decency.
We'll never know exactly why
Gresham got himself trapped
down here in the desert.
He wouldn't seek death.
But cut to pieces
in his emotions
by you and that young lady
back there.
He couldn't have the keenness
of mind he usually had.
So death caught him out.
And half a troop with him.
And for that, I hate
his dead guts!
So you live with that, mister
as long as God pleases you to.
Captain Maddocks, let me go
after that party of 18
and let me get even for...
Violate standing orders
for your peace of mind, mister?
Not a chance.
It's your prayer book
for burial services, sir.
Thank you, sergeant.
Rodermill, you saw
that trail a way back?
- 'Yes, sir.'
- Comanches make it?
'A little far west
for Comanches, sir.'
They could have,
but I won't swear to it.
That's right, sergeant,
you play it carefully.
You will swear
that was an Apache arrow
in Lieutenant Gresham's throat.
Well, yes, I know
an Apache arrow
when I see one, but it's..
A little far north
and east for Apaches.
'That's right.'
'But Apaches could've wiped out'
'Gresham and his patrol.'
That's right, sir.
'But I won't swear.'
Or Comanches could've fought
with the Apaches some time
in the past
gotten hold
of some Apache's arrows
and put one of them
in Gresham's throat
so it could've been Comanches.
That's right, sir.
But I won't swear.
Captain Maddocks, do you know
which tribe did it?
'I know.'
And you can swear to that.
He knows, and he swears too.
Reveille, sir?
Not by good
two and a half hours.
Turn to.
- Coffee, sir?
- Not this morning, Rodermill.
No coffee, no smoking,
no talking.
Saddle up and stand the horse,
and let's do it quietly.
- Yes, sir.
- Rodermill.
Ask Tully to put this
on my horse.
Yes, sir.
And give me one man
to remain in this camp.
Yes, sir.
Captain, sir.
Spencer, you remain
in this camp.
The wind will shift here
just before dawn.
And when it does, you pile
all the bush you can find
on those fires
and keep 'em blazing.
Yes, sir.
Our men are getting ready, sir.
We'll move out,
dismount it and leave 'em.
Yes, sir.
Let's do it quietly.
Tully, tell Mr. McQuade
to report to me.
Yes, sir.
He's changed
our march direction.
What the hell is he doing?
He earns the difference
in our pay, sir.
So I won't ask him.
'Captain wants to see you, sir.'
Maybe you should ask him, sir.
Yes, sir.
I've changed our march
direction, mister.
Yes, sir. You certainly are.
You're giving them our backs.
Be awful easy to take your gun
away from you
and put you in field arrest
for that remark, mister.
Yes, sir.
Look over there.
'That's the smoke
from our old fire.'
'We're having breakfast
there right now'
for every savage to believe
from miles around, I hope.
That up there is Mesa Roja.
Remember the barrack
that's just east of it.
- The one with a stream in it.
- That's right.
You've got a scant hour
to get there.
Take Rodermill and eight men,
and you get there.
Yes, sir, I think I can make it.
Don't think about it.
You get there.
Or your bones will bleach white.
When you get there,
build a one squad breakfast fire
keep everybody out
in the open and active.
You're the bait
on my hook, mister.
Wriggle like a live worm.
Stay alive, son.
Sargent, have the men dismount.
Sargent, have the men
gather around.
Gather around.
We're lighting a fire here
and off-saddling.
I want a defensive position
right there.
And I want a shift position
on that ledge.
Lieutenant care to
tell us anymore?
Yes, I think
we're gonna get hit.
How hard?
I don't know.
But I'm taking it on trust,
so you take it on trust from me.
We gonna get hit
down here in this hole?
You heard the man.
Men, this is to be
a simulated breakfast halt.
Move around, walk, talk,
spit, laugh.
Get known in this neighborhood.
But keep those carbines handy.
Sargent, have the men
picket the horses over there.
- We're sure down the bottom...
- Get that fire lit.
Hanna, build a fire.
Fire the man says.
Fire he's gonna get.
Sometimes the army's worse
than bein' married.
How can you say
an awful thing like that?
If they're up there.
They got us cold
over open sight.
You're a superstitious man
Don't call the shots on this.
Denton, you glad
you took the pledge.
I reckon he is.
Take cover.
How you doin'?
I don't know.
Shift position.
Take to the ledge.
They'll come back.
They always do.
And, then, we'll have them
down in the hole.
Steady, men.
Thank you for that ballet cat.
It's a little gift
from me to you.
What are you looking at?
Well, these Indians sometimes
bring their women with them.
Probably, up there on the ridge.
You're the only man I know
who never gets it off his mind.
I quit drinking for you,
you old teetotaller.
And, now,
you go get yourself dead.
Poor little dog,
sure gonna miss you.
Hey, bugler!
'I want sweet music.'
Nobody dies.
When a fast galloper can
get back into Fort Canby
before we do, I'll have
the dispatch for him
by the time he's ready.
Yes, sir.
He always said, "Nobody dies."
McQuade, you did
a pretty good job here.
Yes, sir, in time you may do.
You may do.
When did you first know
they were Apaches, sir?
Back in Fort Canby.
Comanche's, raiding
an Apache country
wouldn't talk on smoke.
Had to be Apaches arguing up
a hassle among themselves.
How did you know they were
here in the Mesa, sir?
Well, Apaches like to camp high.
Mesa Roja has
the highest ground around.
So, I cheated a mite, son.
I looked.
Last night at sundown,
when we buried the men
high on the peaks,
there was a wisp of smoke.
It takes time, mister.
But you finally do learn
to out-think them all.
And there weren't any Comanches.
Just Apaches tryin' to get us
to run off to Texas
after ghosts.
In light of departmental
standing orders, sir
I won't say anything
about this attack.
Attack, Mr. McQuade?
What attack?
My point commanded
by you here on this stream bank
came under heavy attack
by hostiles.
My point did not attack,
it defended.
It did not attack nor did I.
Arriving with the main body
I merely supported the defense.
I'm extremely sorry
for my previous attitude, sir.
Here's your goal, Mr. McQuade.
There used to be
an officer out here
who said
never apologize, mister.
It's a mark of weakness.
There's a long
service captain out here
who found that out the hard way.
He apologized once
to his commanding officer
in an attempt
to cover up a mistake.
A bad mistake.
You will die
or retire as a captain.
The officer who chose
to damage that man's career
might have dealt with him
a little more humanly
but he didn't.
But I'll make a soldier
out of you, Mr. McQuade.
If you don't break first.
And you may convey my respects
to General McQuade.
The next time you write
to your father.
Bring that guy down.
Smarten it!
Dismount and lead out,
Mr. McQuade.
Dismount, lead out to stables.
Well, Butterfield stage
got through.
Looks like it's gettin' ready
to head out to the east again.
Captain Maddocks.
Miss Yates.
Thank the good Lord
you're back.
Tracey Hamilton
is taking her east
to her aunt in St. Louis.
Goodbye, Laurie.
Take the bags
to the coach, please.
I hoped I'd be gone
before you got in.
Please don't make me break down.
Tracey, you can't go this way.
This is the way I'm going, Kurt.
The galloper brought us the news
about Tom and the others.
Glad you got out alive.
Tracey, give me a moment.
There isn't any moment,
there never can be.
I killed Tom Gresham.
I'm quitting now,
before I break.
If I were a man,
you'd call me yellow.
Tracey, you'll always be
the loveliest girl I ever knew.
Goodbye, Tracey.
- Goodbye, Mrs. Yates.
- Goodbye.
- Mrs. Scarborough.
- Goodbye, dear.
- Goodbye, Camden.
- Goodbye, Tracey.
Come on, sweetheart.
- Mister?
- Yes, sir.
'...everybody start!'
It's not in the book, mister.
But it's one of the hard lessons
we learn out here.
What, sir?
Bachelors make
the best soldiers.
All they have to lose
is their loneliness.
Weren't you ever married, sir?
I suppose that was part of it.
Back there when I almost broke.
My wife and..
Three little girls
are buried in Fort Latham.
Smallpox, mister.
I must try to get some flowers
somehow down to them
the next time
one of our patrols puts in.
Captain Maddocks, sir,
in my quarters
I have a bottle with just about
four drinks left in it.
I'm sorry,
I can't offer you more.
I know, sir..
Never apologize,
it's a sign of weakness.
Two jewels a piece
might just about cut the dust.
Do you care to join me
in my quarters?