The Great Sioux Massacre (1965) Movie Script

The events depicted here
have their origin
in the documented
history of this nation
and concern the tragedy
that befell
Colonel George Armstrong Custer,
his officers and men.
Tragedy, like human life itself,
must have a beginning,
a middle, and an end.
This, then, is what transpired
before, during, and after
the action at the Little Bighorn
in the year 1876.
It is offered without apology.
Be seated.
This court of inquiry
has convened to determine
the validity of those charges
of incompetence
and neglect of duty
instituted against
Major Marcus A. Reno,
staff officer under command
of Colonel Custer,
during the action
in the territory of Montana.
Call the first witness.
Captain Frederick
William Benton,
will you please rise?
Captain Benton,
you were attached
to the command
of Colonel Custer.
That is correct, sir.
And I consider it fortunate
that I am able
to be present here today
to set straight the record,
and clear Major Reno
of the charges so unjustly
leveled against him.
Captain, the court will
put the questions to you.
You'll confine your answers
solely to these questions.
I am sorry, sir.
I cannot comply.
The wrong man is sitting there.
It is not Major Reno's conduct
which should be under
investigation here today, sir.
It is mine.
I am prepared
to prove this to you,
if the court will permit.
How do you intend
doing this, captain?
By starting at the beginning,
before it happened.
Otherwise I would be doing
both this court
and Major Reno a disservice
by adding more half-truths
to further distort the record.
Proceed, captain.
Where do you think it began?
It began with my first
assignment out west.
I was to report
to Colonel Custer at the fort.
En route, I was ordered
to act as
escort to the family
of an Indian agent.
My companion
was a veteran scout.
The only name I ever
knew him by was Dakota.
This was the land of the Sioux,
the so-called treaty land
whose harvest was murder
and barbaric torture.
Six, hard years
of Indian reprisal
against the white man's
You'll get used to this.
You haven't.
No, I haven't.
I'm not very sociable,
but I broke a rule with
the family that lived here.
I got in the habit
of dropping by off and on.
Why the hell
did they settle here?
This is Sioux territory.
Like trying to keep house
on top of a keg of gunpowder.
What did they expect
to raise here?
Kids. Three of 'em.
Don't like kids, captain?
You don't have to tell me
what happened to them.
How can the Indian respect our
rights if we disregard theirs?
Trespassing on their lands,
herding them into
filthy reservations,
starving them to death
while corrupt Indian agents
steal the food
out of their mouths.
Mrs. Turner's husband's
an Indian agent.
Maybe you should
ask her about that.
A better idea to ask
Turner himself about it.
A better idea would be to herd
every blood-hungry,
stinking Indian
into one big stockade
and burn it to the ground.
Everything all right,
Mrs. Turner?
Fine, sir.
I'm afraid you're going
to get awful tired
of my asking the same question
over and over again.
Well, we'll be in some time
tomorrow, ma'am.
I imagine that your husband
would be just as anxious
to see you
as you are to see him.
You're very understanding
for a bachelor, captain.
I'm frankly surprised.
Well, your understanding
of bachelors, ma'am,
is rather limited.
Full gallop! Hyah!
Head for the fort!
Keep moving!
Keep moving! Head for the fort!
We could use some shade.
Troops, dismount.
Take cover.
Why are they leaving?
Maybe it's not us they're after.
Come on.
Troop, halt.
Can we pick up the trail
out of here?
There's 15 different trails
leading out of here.
No matter which one we take
it'll be the wrong one.
I'd sleep better
if we did, Dakota.
Troop halt.
The man's all shot up.
He wants to surrender.
That he does, captain.
It... It's all right.
Tell him that...
that he's in safe hands.
Tell him it's all right.
I don't have to ask
why you did that.
A cold-blooded murder
needs no reason.
Hell, it was an act of mercy.
I just didn't want the poor
critter to starve to death
in one of those
filthy reservations
you were talking about.
Troops, ho!
Troops, ho!
Troops, halt!
Left, hut!
I regret, sir, that
my first assignment
under your command
turned out so unfortunately.
I think a more accurate term
would be "disastrous,"
at least as far as the woman
being taken captive
is concerned.
Yes, sir, Colonel Custer,
I agree. I agree.
I tried to follow their trail.
When you become more familiar
with Indian ways, you won't
waste the time you did.
I wouldn't have bothered.
Well, I'm prepared
to mount a search party
and follow any leads
there are, sir.
There aren't any,
so content yourself with
following orders for the moment.
You're to set out immediately
on another assignment.
Yes, sir.
Your destination...
The nearest bathtub.
I don't want you tracking alkali
dust in my parlor tonight.
Whatever you say, colonel.
Mrs. Custer and I
are throwing a little party.
You're invited.
Why thank you, sir,
I'll be there.
Uh, about Mrs. Turner, Colonel?
I have reason
to believe Mrs. Turner
and the children are alive.
I could be wrong, but I flatter
myself I know the Sioux
and sympathize with them.
You can't really blame them
for trying to even
the score against us,
even if it means
taking hostages.
Yes, sir.
Yes, sir?
Show Captain Benton
to his quarters.
Yes, sir.
Thank you, sir.
Don't tell me you're surprised.
Well, no. No. I... I naturally
expected to see you here.
Would you excuse us a moment?
Yes, ma'am.
Your quarters
are the fourth down, sir.
Thanks, sergeant.
Well, uh, it's nice seeing
you again, Caroline.
Didn't you get my letter?
Oh, yes, ma'am, I got it.
You made it very clear
that I was not welcome here.
Then you didn't
get my last letter.
Last letter?
A woman's prerogative.
I wrote you to say that I want
to give us another chance.
Does your father know
you wrote the letter?
Oh, Caroline, it's hopeless.
You're still the daughter
of a Confederate major general
who's still fighting
the Civil War.
And who hates me for what I did.
I couldn't live with that hate.
Bill, I'm... I'm trying
to work it out.
How can he reconcile this
lunacy with what he is now,
an officer in the Union Army?
He's a soldier.
It's the only life he knows.
And you'll never leave him,
will you, Caroline?
Bill, I'm trying to work it out.
Don't you believe I can?
I don't know, Caroline.
I want to believe it, yet...
Trust me, Bill.
Trust me to work it out.
Miss Reno?
No, thank you.
Can you see the seam?
I'm not a seamstress,
I'm a man in love.
May I take over now, captain?
I've saved you this dance.
With pleasure, ma'am.
And all the others
if you want them.
Just you hang on.
It does show. Look.
You take my word for it.
You look as lovely as any bride.
Well, I should.
Don't you recognize it?
My wedding dress.
I'd forgotten how durable
your clothes are,
and how patient you've been.
You know what I'd do
if I had a new dress?
I'd give this one
to another bride,
and she'd be the happiest
girl in the world because
it's more than a dress.
It's a wish. And it came true.
And it brought me
what every woman wants.
They're waiting for us.
I already told them
you were ill.
Whatever possessed you?
What? Just paying my respects.
An officer and a gentleman
always pays his respects.
And where is the brave
Captain Benton?
Or is he afraid?
He's a dedicated officer
of the Confederate army.
Father, there is no
Confederate army.
You're making a fool
of yourself.
I'd heard you were indisposed.
Good of you to come, major.
Major general, if you please.
Why doesn't this rabble salute?
I think most of you know
Major General Reno.
I'll salute that.
A gallant former foe.
Today he is one of us.
We are, thank God,
at long last, all of a feather.
"All of a feather," you say.
Well, that depends
on just what color
the feather is.
And I see a white one
sticking up over there.
Its yellow roots buried deep
in his shivering...
That's enough, major!
Don't try my patience.
Your family tree just fell down.
I think you'd better pick it up.
Tom, come here.
Take him to his quarters.
I... I regret this very much.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry, colonel.
Give us some music.
Thank you.
I'm sorry, Bill.
Of course you're sorry,
You're sorry for him
and you always will be.
I don't blame you
for feeling the way you do.
Thank you.
You better see that
he gets to bed.
Bill, please.
Don't chuck me out
because of what he did.
I know how you feel.
Do you know I feel when I see
you wasting your life coddling
that foolish old man and his...
He's a sick man, Caroline.
It's rubbing off on you.
Then take me out of here,
No, Caroline, no, no.
Somewhere, someplace,
the same thing would
happen all over again.
I wish I were big enough to say
that it didn't bother me,
but it does.
How can I make him change?
Change? He'll never change.
What's to become of us?
The night air has a chill in it,
Caroline. You better get inside.
Apparently you had more
than one reason
for requesting
a transfer to the 7th.
Yes, sir.
It's the same reason, sir,
I would like to request
a transfer.
I will not grant it, captain.
I want you to prepare H company
for immediate departure.
But colonel, isn't there another
officer you can assign?
If I could, I'd start
by assigning Major Reno
to some post in Siberia,
but I give you my word,
the minute I can spare you,
I'll arrange a transfer.
Oh, Custer, I heard
you were celebrating.
And is this who I think it is?
Captain Benton, Jessie Turner,
Indian agent.
Mr. Turner, I'm sorry...
Benton, you're typical
of this outfit.
What were you doing,
hiding under a rock
when those savages made off
with my wife and kids?
Mr. Turner,
we were overpowered...
You're a liar! Isn't it enough
that this unfit imbecile
turned tail and ran
to save his own hide?
You and the rest
of your jackass officers
have to celebrate
by roistering all night.
Have you any idea
what those savages
might be doing to my family?
Nothing, I hope.
That's no answer, Custer.
Why haven't you sent
out a search party?
With Indians, I try never
to do the expected,
especially when it might mean
walking into a night ambush.
Custer, you're
shirking your duty
and I'll bear witness to it.
I'm glad you mentioned
the word "duty."
Now, as Indian agent,
you've lined your pockets
with government funds,
moneys entrusted to you
to buy supplies and food
the Indians never got.
Custer, those are
serious charges,
and I... I would advise
you to retract them.
I intend to prove it.
I know how you got your job.
You bought it from
a corrupt administration.
I'll prove that too.
I'm going to see
that these charges
are heard in Washington.
Every accusation I've made
has been documented
under my signature
and sent to Washington.
At dawn I shall implement
a search for your family.
And now, before you put your big
feet in your mouth again,
I suggest you use them for
the purpose they were designed,
and get off my porch.
I'll see you before you leave.
Yes, sir.
Hold the troop here.
Await my return.
Are we ready?
Yes, sir.
Move out.
I can smell them.
That's fear you smell.
Your own maybe.
Colonel, when I pay
for a haircut
I like to get my money's worth.
That's why I don't
want to get scalped.
I can think of several
other good reasons.
Scouts. Get ready.
Fan out.
Here goes your courage, major.
Sitting Bull, Red Cloud,
Brave Bear, and Crazy Horse.
We are in distinguished company.
I know of you, Sitting Bull.
And you Red Cloud,
Brave Bear, Crazy Horse.
It is good we meet
today in peace.
but there have been
days when we did not.
The storm will come again.
Not if we deal with
one another fairly.
The taking of the white woman
as captive
was done in the spirit
of war, not peace.
What of the stockade
at the Black Canyon?
Will you release our people
if we release yours?
It is beyond my power
and authority to release yours.
What did you expect of us then?
In the interests of peace,
I expected you to right
a great wrong.
Is that your answer?
That is our answer.
You will remain here.
But one of your officers will
go at once to the Black Canyon
and free our people.
Is this the choice
you have made?
You have left us no choice.
My congratulations.
A round of applause
for his ingenuity.
We came here to demand hostages,
and now we're bargaining
for our own lives.
A masterstroke, Sitting Bull.
Company I reporting, sir.
And a welcome sight
you are, captain. Well done.
You're just in time
for the execution.
For the last time,
will you release the captives?
No, Custer. I will not.
Then I shall hang you.
Station the horses
under that tree.
Prepare four nooses.
Carry out that order.
Custer, at my signal
a thousand braves will answer.
All of you will be slaughtered.
Yes, but not in time
to help you.
And when they see you dangling
from that tree over there,
they'll sensibly pause.
Long enough for me to hang you,
and you, and then you.
You will never get back
to your regiment alive.
But all four of you
will precede me in death.
Hang us and be done with it.
Custer, our lives cannot
be bought this cheaply.
You will release the captives?
Red Cloud will bring
them to you.
Major Reno.
It is your day, Custer,
but there will be another day.
Everything has its price.
You and Captain Benton
will take them to Black Canyon.
I want you to see the stockade,
and when you do, you'll want
to hang our friend Turner.
Your men, captain.
Yes, sir.
Turner, your wife's here.
Troop halt!
Turner had his
wife and family back.
And I had my first look
at an Indian agency.
Open it up here.
I was in no way prepared
for what met my eyes.
Here was the shame of the West.
What is this swill?
Better than they deserve.
Even a buzzard
would run from it.
Well, they're not
feeding buzzards.
They're feeding Indians.
And one's a lot higher
on the social scale
than the other, captain.
How come you never
got married again, Dakota?
You knew then, about my family?
Yeah. It... It helps explain
a lot of things.
I never was much
for... loneliness,
but after that I...
Well, I've learned
to live with it.
A man doesn't forget easily
when his wife and kids
were butchered.
The Cheyenne, wasn't it?
Cheyenne, Apache,
Blackfoot, Sioux.
They're vicious killers, all
of 'em. They ain't even human.
A man can't live on hate,
Well, he's doing
a good job of it.
Him I pity.
Well, don't pity me.
What you can't get through
your head, captain,
is a man can live on hate
as well as love.
You'll live to find it's
a bitter substitute, Dakota.
Your order, sir.
Have the bugler sound alarm.
Cut 'em down.
Cut 'em down!
Cut 'em down!
Get every last one of 'em,
I just gave you an order.
I won't gun those people.
I shan't repeat
the order, captain.
Every last one of 'em, Benton!
Do you expect me to sign that?
Yes, sir.
I want him court-martialled.
He deliberately
disobeyed my orders.
He refused to fire on the enemy.
Major Reno, the enemy,
as you choose to call them,
were a handful
of Indians unarmed
except with the crudest weapons,
prisoners if you like,
tormented beyond endurance
by Turner.
Captain Benton
was absolutely correct
in refusing to massacre them.
I only wish he could have
stopped you.
As it stands now, you've set
in motion God knows what
in way of bloody reprisals.
If you dare press those charges,
I'll see you trouble
my existence no longer.
It's your reply to your dispatch
to General Terry, sir.
I've been ordered to report
to Fort Kearny at once.
The repercussions of that
massacre are being felt already.
And unless I'm mistaken,
Major Reno,
they're going to be on my bill.
That's all, major.
Is there anything I can do
for you, sir?
Yes. You can go with me.
We'll leave at once.
Yes, sir.
Colonel Custer,
you've got yourself
in a very dangerous position.
I knew that when you
summoned me, sir.
But I thought it was
because of Black Canyon.
You've got a damn sight more
to answer for than that.
You've been pulling tails
in high places,
The secretary of war and Orville
Grant, the president's brother.
The articles you wrote
have been published.
Your high-flown accusations
hit home.
According to you,
most of the administration
is implicated in selling
positions to Indian agents.
So you've been summoned
to Washington as a key witness.
I didn't say half enough,
You said plenty.
They're fighting mad
and they're out for your blood.
I've nothing to hide behind
except the truth.
You learn to keep a rein
on your mouth.
Be very careful what you say
to the newspapers.
Extremely careful.
That's sudden and hostile
country back there.
The ambushes around the Capitol
can match anything we get
from the Sioux in ferocity.
You're a good fighting man,
colonel, but as a diplomat...
Well, that's
a pretty good shine.
When do I leave, sir?
Right now. Captain.
General Terry.
Uh, colonel?
Watch your step.
I'll do just that.
Thank you, sir.
This means I can't
transfer you, captain.
I need someone I can rely on
back at the fort.
Yes, sir.
You're that man.
But there's
another man there, sir.
You'll be under
Major Reno's command,
and you'll have to look out
for ambushes.
He'll try to assign you
every miserable detail
he can dream up.
Forced marches.
Dog watches. Latrine duty.
I want your promise
you'll stick it out.
At least until I return.
Well, that could be
some time, colonel.
Very likely.
Will you do it?
Yes, sir, I'll try.
I've got to get a letter off
to my wife.
She'll have to meet me
in Washington.
I'll take it back with me.
Yes, sir?
Try real hard.
Yes, sir.
Custer was gone.
Major Reno crammed
10 years of hating me,
assigning me one dirty detail
after another.
I was seldom at the fort.
When I was, the unhappy memories
came floating back.
But whatever my heartaches,
they were nothing compared
to Custer's in Washington.
His charges against
the administration
stirred up a hornet's nest.
Recklessly, he exposed
corruption on every side,
sparing nobody, including
the president's own brother.
He proved his point.
And they hated him for it.
Colonel Custer, you have
maligned, censored and accused
nearly every branch
of government
and every official connected
with the administration
of our western frontier.
Are you quite sure, sir,
you haven't left anything out?
Nothing except my own personal
opinion of you, senator.
I have it on good authority
your brother-in-law
was just made Indian agent
at Santa Fe,
and that you're
building a brand new house.
I'm sorry.
After today, my career
doesn't look too rosy.
And that affects you, my dear.
You told the truth.
What else could you do?
Oh, a politician could give you
a number of answers to that.
Well, let's just say
it isn't the way
a soldier goes about
getting his retirement pay.
But anyway, you can always say
I was a good cook,
even if the goose I cooked
was my own.
Well... the president
will understand. He...
He's a soldier too.
Why don't you see him?
The answer's the same.
There really is no point in you
coming here day after day.
The president
does not want to see you.
Well, I don't propose
to waste any more of my time.
We're going back where
we belong, where I'm needed,
to my post.
Unless I'm mistaken,
you're under orders
not to leave Washington.
We're going anyway.
You'd be violating
your orders, colonel.
The hell with my orders.
And a quartermaster report, sir.
Captain Benton reporting,
General Terry.
My apologies, sir,
I reported as fast as I could,
but I didn't have time
to clean up.
I didn't come here to inspect
the crease in your trousers.
Where you've been lately,
I wouldn't be surprised
if you were out barefoot
in a barrel.
First, I want you to know
that Colonel Custer's been
What for?
He left Washington
without orders.
He's been relieved
of his command.
That leaves the 7th Calvary
without a commander.
I'm offering the command
to you, captain.
General Terry, uh...
Excuse me, sir, uh...
Captain Benton... After all...
I mean to say,
I am the ranking officer here.
Major Reno, I've examined
the fitness report
of all senior officers.
Well, I don't understand.
I can't help feeling that...
I'm sorry, major,
but my decision
was carefully arrived at.
The rank of brevet colonel
goes with the command.
I'm not sure that I can
accept it, sir.
You turned down a similar rank
with the 9th Cavalry
to be with Custer here.
This time, I'd like you to take
the promotion.
I'm sure that Major Reno would
be pleased to serve under you.
Have I any other choice?
Yes. You can resign.
I'll carry out your orders, sir.
In the meantime,
I ask permission
to go back to my quarters.
Permission granted.
Well, captain?
I'd, uh...
I'd like a little time
to think it over, sir.
Think it over?
With the rank of brevet colonel?
Yes, sir.
I don't understand.
Well, as long as I have
your answer before I leave.
That's all, captain.
Yes, sir.
Well, every dog has his day.
And your friend Benton
just had his.
Terry appointed him
post command over me.
Well, doesn't seem to surprise
you very much, does it?
I didn't know you shared
the general's low opinion
of my capabilities.
Can I fix you something to eat?
I'll tell you
what I'll eat from now on.
I'll eat crow.
If I don't,
Benton will damn well
rub my nose in it.
Can you imagine
how it's going to be?
I've come to tell you goodbye.
I'm leaving.
I'm resigning my commission.
I wanted to leave
a long time ago,
but I promised Custer
that I'd stay on.
But wh... why?
You've just been appointed...
An army that can court-martial
a man like Colonel Custer
is an army
that I want no part of.
It deserves to be commanded
by men like your father.
You're next in line.
The general will
undoubtedly appoint you
commander of the post.
It's all yours.
With your permission, sir.
Goodbye, Caroline.
You won for a change.
You should feel very happy
and proud of yourself.
What are you doing?
The occasion calls for a drink.
To the gallant officer who got
his heart's desire after all,
without even lifting a finger.
To victory!
Southern st...
Oh, Caroline.
I wonder what it's going
to be like, victory.
You might find it
a little empty,
with nothing to wrap
your head around anymore,
except me.
Caroline, I...
I never realized
what it was for you.
Neither did I until right now.
We've shared a lot, right?
Guess it's only been self-pity.
Oh, I'm used to that.
He deserved the appointment,
and I didn't.
Well, suppose
we drink to that, and...
No, no, no.
He's twice the man I am.
Anybody with a stubborn
hide-bound fool would admit it.
Oh, please, isn't it a little
late for this?
No. No, it isn't.
I won't accept the appointment.
No matter what he does,
I won't accept it.
He's got to stay, I mean it.
You heard him, he won't.
He will. If you tell him.
Aren't you man enough
to tell him yourself?
Caroline, believe me,
I'm not afraid to tell him.
And I will.
But what I have to tell him
is only part of what he wants
to hear. The rest...
Only you can tell him the rest.
You won't change your mind?
You... You say this now,
you feel this way right now,
but you won't always.
And then they'll be
the ugly scenes again.
No, you go to him.
Go to him now.
He's waited a long time.
I don't want you to go, Bill.
I brought you some tea.
No, thanks, Libbie.
Whoever it is,
don't let them in.
I wouldn't leave anyone
standing out in this rain.
Mrs. Custer?
Why, yes.
Won't you come in?
Thank you.
I'm Roger Blaine.
Senator Blaine?
May I take your coat?
Why, thank you.
I have something of importance
to discuss with your husband.
Forgive me for not
letting you know I was coming.
It was intentional.
My Washington experience
has taught me the value
of a surprise attack.
As a military man, you should
especially appreciate that.
You have the advantage
of me, senator.
Oh, senator, won't you sit down?
May I offer you some tea?
No, thank you.
What brings you to Ohio?
You're a long way from home.
So are you.
But your present exile
is of your own making.
I think Grant was leniency
itself in limiting it to this.
You didn't come here
just to tell me that.
I must be blunt
with you, Custer.
Your words and actions
were well-intentioned,
but hysterical.
It's by no means impossible,
however, or hopeless.
What isn't?
Your career.
As you know,
the political tide is shifting.
My party feels an exciting
and popular candidate
would win a November election.
Are you interested?
Yes, I... I'd like to hear more.
Well, you're exciting,
but, uh, not popular
at the moment.
I hardly need you
to remind me of that.
Uh, go on.
You're running for office.
Uh, it...
It's kind of ridiculous.
A discredited army officer...
I can assure you
there's a road back, Custer.
And it could conceivably lead
to the White House.
I, uh,
I'm afraid I'm anything
but presidential timber.
That's something for the voters
to determine, not you.
As a soldier
you'll need victories.
Now, there's no handy war
around at the moment,
so you'll have to stir up
some dust with the Indians.
But from this point forward,
they become the enemy.
A ruthless army of savages
you must fight without mercy.
But they're not.
Don't go maudlin on me, Custer.
It's either that or rot
the rest of your life away
in this dingy Midwest
catch basin.
The alternative is far more
attractive, you must admit.
Yes, it is.
Far more.
But just remember...
Indians can't vote.
Hello, colonel.
I just got off this article
on your return to active duty.
Now all we need
is a little excitement.
But I don't mind telling you
the kind of headlines
Senator Blaine is counting on.
I know the senator well.
He expects me to report
your exploits.
But I'm only as good
as the material you give me.
I won't disappoint you, Mark.
Welcome home, colonel.
Captain Benton, Mark Cambridge.
New York Herald. On special
assignment to my command.
Oh, well, I hope you find
it interesting out here, sir.
We'll make it interesting.
Won't we, colonel?
Oh, about that promotion that
General Terry offered me, sir.
Serving under you is...
Well, I... I'm just glad the
promotion didn't come through.
Well, this request for leave
doesn't sound like you're too
anxious to serve, captain.
Well, that's so I can
get married, sir.
Apparently you've been
mooning over this girl
instead of paying attention
to what's going on around here.
Now, are you aware
that gold has been discovered
not ten miles from this post?
And that the prospectors
and Indians
are at each other's throats?
We've got a crisis
on our hands, captain.
And I must say
this is one hell of a time
for you to be going off
on some romantic joy ride.
No man can be spared.
Request denied. That's all.
But, colonel...
That's all, captain.
Yes, sir.
Well, I better get back to work.
The tide of fortune-seekers
swept everything before it,
swarming over Indian boundaries,
wiping out promises,
treaties, and Indians alike.
The Indians fled,
leaving their homes.
But the gold-hungry men
followed behind them.
And then the Indians
fought back.
The Sioux nation began taking
its toll of the invaders.
With equal enthusiasm,
they returned
killing for killing.
Custer and his 7th Cavalry
moved out to restore order.
Detail halt!
Troops dismount!
Bring him along.
Bring him on.
What's his trouble?
Uh, staking claims
on Indian territory.
He's the ringleader.
Get your hands off me!
I told him that that property
was protected by treaty.
Well, it most certainly is.
I'm ordering you
out of the area.
Yes, sir?
Get his gear and escort him
and his friends
off the reservation.
Just a moment, major.
Release that man.
In the future, gentlemen,
you'd be well-advised
to keep your nose
out of civilian affairs.
He's a thief,
poaching on Indian property.
My orders are to safeguard
the lives and property
of the white settlers.
Yours are the same.
But, colonel...
I repeat, major,
our job is to restore order
no matter what the cost.
Is that understood, major?
Perfectly, sir.
Carry on.
Colonel, you know, I didn't know
where you stood on this thing,
but I sure as hell do now.
You know, we been...
We been, uh, trying to find
some fitting name
for this place and, uh,
you just come up with it.
Well, I... I don't think
I deserve such an honor.
Oh, just leave that up to us,
The honor's ours.
That sounds
like a great dateline
for the story
I'm going to file on this.
That was a smart move you made.
Good hunting, colonel.
Gold was not the
treasure Custer sought.
But gold brought him
something just as precious...
His chance to focus attention
on himself,
and shine as brightly
as any golden nugget
in the public eye.
But to make
the hero image stick,
he needed bigger deeds
and bigger headlines.
In pursuit of them,
he drove his men relentlessly,
himself hardest of all.
His stamina was unbelievable
and frightening.
One day, Custer found
what he wanted.
A whole Sioux village,
unarmed, unprepared.
Company left!
Front, ho!
Company left!
Troop left. Ho!
Twos left!
Back up. Ho! Hyah!
Dakota, with me.
Hold your fire. Hold your fire.
Don't be afraid.
Don't be afraid.
Please, don't...
Hold your fire!
Hold that fire!
Get these men
and women out of here!
Move 'em out!
Go on, follow him.
Follow him. Go.
Come on.
Come on, follow him.
Get the colonel.
Get the colonel.
Cambridge did his job well.
Custer got his reward.
And the Indians
buried their dead.
Great Spirit,
their souls cry out for not one,
but all the Sioux nations
to avenge them.
Send runners to the Cheyennes,
the Crows, and all their allies.
They must join us.
There were
casualties on both sides
as Custer drove on
against the Indians.
But fear and strain
were at work also,
taking their toll
of Custer's legions.
By twos and threes
and entire groups,
the men began deserting.
Get 'em down!
Get 'em down!
Those deserters...
who got away.
What are their chances?
That all depends.
You know what I'm thinking,
don't you?
Well, if you're thinking
I'm fed up, you're dead right.
Indian blood has suddenly
lost its flavor.
And watching Custer
shoot his own troops in the back
hasn't helped any.
Don't try.
Well, I'd like
to think about it.
I'm asking you
to stop thinking about it.
Spoken like an officer
and a gentlemen.
No, spoken like a friend.
Give me your word, Dakota.
Good night, captain.
You could do with some sleep.
With what's been happening,
I'll sleep with my eyes open.
That's a good way to get shot,
coming up on a man like that.
You oughta get your nerves
under control.
You think I'm pushing too hard,
don't you?
Yes, I do.
There are limits beyond which
men, no matter how loyal,
won't go.
Are you quoting
the Manual of Arms,
or is this your own opinion?
There are so many bullets
and so many men.
You can't shoot 'em all.
Guard! Deserter.
Deserter! Fire at him!
He's been hit, sir.
He won't get far.
Who was it?
It's the scout, Dakota.
Well, don't stand there,
major. Go after him.
Yes, sir.
Follow him!
Troop L!
K Troop, follow me.
I Troop!
Throw that deserter
over the horse. Bring him in.
He can't be moved.
He's bleeding too much.
Throw him over the saddle.
He can't be moved!
You get that deserter
on a horse now.
You heard what the doctor said.
There's a firing squad waiting
to deal with this weasel.
And if any of you interfere
again, you'll get the same.
The man's dead, colonel.
You're under arrest.
Hi, honey.
Hey, what's the look?
I've never questioned anything
you've done before, have I?
I appreciate that, Libbie.
And if they judge
Captain Benton guilty,
the penalty is death.
Isn't it?
Court-martial at Fort Kearny
will decide.
It's out of my hands.
I can remember when you
looked beyond the book of rules,
when you did what your heart
told you to.
I can remember when
the dictates of my heart
nearly cost me my career.
I can remember making a damn
fool of myself in Washington.
You were with me, when I went
begging to President Grant.
He refused even to see
a fellow officer.
The price of sentiment
comes high.
And there's also a price
a man pays
for striking a superior officer.
And whatever that price is,
Captain Benton will pay it.
His fate is in the life
of that court-martial.
And yours with your God
in heaven.
Colonel Custer?
You have a visitor.
I'm sorry I wasn't able
to meet you at the railhead.
I can understand that.
It's been your busy season.
The papers
are full of your exploits.
He can take a bow for that too.
I'm no more than a mirror
reflecting great deeds.
Colonel, you're more
than holding your own.
Just keep giving us victories
and the voters will do the rest.
The biggest story of all
is coming up, senator.
I've just come
from General Terry.
Three of our armies
are converging on the Sioux.
But you'll only be
one of them, colonel.
The 7th will be just another
regiment in a working team.
Possibly not.
For speed, nothing
can outstrip the 7th.
That's good. Very good.
We need you in the vanguard.
First in the line of battle,
first in the morning papers.
You know,
a dessert cut in three pieces
is never as rich or rewarding
as the whole pie.
I'm in complete accord.
The whole pie, undivided.
I can rest easy then.
I wouldn't want anything
to mar the advantages
of such a triumph.
Nothing will.
The impending court-martial
of Captain Benton might.
If they execute him, there
could be ugly implications.
A charitable gesture on your
part might be better advised.
It's too late for that, senator.
I'm sorry to hear that.
Captain, you are alive
because twice before
you have spared Indian lives.
It is a kind of faith in that
willed by your own people.
You've seen much here today.
When your armies come, they will
meet us in all our strength.
For never before has the Indian
brought all his power
to bear upon a single enemy.
I do not envy that enemy.
Your people will die
and we will die,
staining this ground
with our blood.
But we will be here
where they are no more.
Deep down, you are one of them,
even though they deny it now.
And because you have seen
the storm clouds gathering here,
you would forewarn them
if you could.
My warriors
will take you far away.
When the blood of your people
have dried upon this earth,
you will again be set free.
Take cover.
What happened
to your guard escort?
Same thing happened to this one.
You're still under arrest.
Bury these Indians.
Bury 'em fast and bury 'em deep
and take the ponies with us.
Odd request.
You must have a good reason.
I do. Our very lives
depend on it.
Get off these horses.
Get these Indians buried fast!
Get 'em out of here!
I gotta report this
to Colonel Custer.
He won't be at the fort.
The 7th's all set to move out.
Move out? Where?
They're to rendezvous
at the Rosebud.
The Rosebud? Well, then,
hurry, lieutenant.
The lives of every man jack
in the 7th are in danger.
Keep those men on the ground!
Bury 'em deep there!
Come on, get a move on!
Scouts out!
Scouts out!
Twos left!
Forward, ho!
Twos right!
Twos right!
Troop, ho!
Twos left!
We rode on recklessly to
meet up with Custer in the 7th.
At the end of the day, we came
in sight of the Rosebud.
Without a doubt, sir,
it is the most formidable array
of Indian might in history.
I think your capture and escape
should have a place in history
too, captain.
I'll take everything you said
under advisement.
And with miracles
occurring all around you,
I think one more's in order.
I'm restoring you to command
of your troops.
Well, thank you, sir. But...
With the Indians multiplying
at the rate you say they are,
we've gotta start
moving civilians.
Your assignment will be
to evacuate
the miners and settlers.
Good luck,
and get going, captain.
Major Reno?
You will prepare your company
for immediate departure.
Assemble the rest of the
regiment, and await my orders.
You still here?
I don't think he believed me.
Well, he's right.
It is a miracle
that you're still alive,
between the Injuns
and the court-martial.
Have the bugler sound assembly.
At once, sir.
Well, anyway,
two of us are mighty thankful.
Caroline and myself.
Do you believe
what I told Custer?
Well, why shouldn't I?
I don't think he did.
If he ignores this warning,
if he risks the 7th...
Oh, for God's sake, Bill.
Don't cross him again.
Carry out your orders.
Your generous gesture
to Captain Benton
will be welcome news
to Senator Blaine.
After today,
he'll have better news.
Maybe not, if the captain's
report is correct.
He probably exaggerated.
But if he didn't?
The bigger the enemy, Mark,
the bigger the victory.
Troop's ready, sir.
Have the troop dismount
when assembled.
Yes, sir.
This will be your final
briefing, gentlemen.
Captain Benton is already in our
flank, covering Wolf Mountain.
Major Reno will take
three companies
along the left bank
of the tributary,
across the Little Bighorn,
and take up position.
If you should engage the enemy,
I will be on the right bank
to smash them.
You're dividing the regiment
in three.
You heard the report.
We're outnumbered
20-to-1 as it is.
Major, carry out your orders.
But dividing the regiment?
It's madness.
At once, major.
At once.
All right, move out.
Scouts out.
Scouts out.
Scouts out.
Twos right.
Forward, ho!
Twos left.
Twos right.
Forward, ho!
Time was running out.
At any moment,
I expected the hills
to explode with fighting braves.
Ho, ho!
Well, if it ain't my old friend.
Pack your gear.
You're moving out.
Moving out?
Whose order is that?
Colonel Custer.
The Sioux are out of hand.
You'll be their first target.
Pack your gear!
Fall in behind! Move!
All right, you miners,
pack your stuff.
We're getting out of here.
Move along!
They march in column of three.
That is good.
The branches will break
more easily than the trunk.
Now it begins.
The first branch is yours.
Go ahead!
Move out!
Troop, halt!
Over here, at a gallop!
At a gallop!
Break the second branch.
Forward at a gallop. Ho!
Troops, dismount and take cover.
Yes, sir?
Find Benton. Get him down here.
Yes, sir.
Form a circle!
Captain, captain!
Major Reno, he's being attacked
down the river.
He needs your help.
General Terry's on his way here!
Find him! Get him here fast!
Clear out!
Sergeant, follow me!
I Company break through.
Break through!
Break through!
Break through! Break through!
Cambridge, get my horse
and get out.
You'll see my wife.
Tell her...
I'll find the right words,
Company, take cover!
Company, take cover!
Hold your fire!
Hold your fire,
and let him through.
Hold your fire!
Where's Captain Keyo?
I sent him on to General Terry.
It could be the end for Custer.
We've gotta reinforce.
At the cost of more lives?
No, sir.
It's a mess of his own making.
Let him get his own chestnuts
out of the fire.
I can give you covering fire if
you break out now. Take 20 men.
That's an order!
Somebody might think
I was deserting.
And I know what you do to
deserters. Don't you, brother?
You shoot them, don't you?
Like that.
We're wasting time.
I'm not budging.
You go on ahead if you want to,
major, but I warn you,
you won't be covering yourself
with more glory, just blood.
Custer's out there somewhere,
praying for sight of us.
I'm going to him
with or without you.
All right, damn you!
Mount up, men.
We're pulling out.
Give us cover!
We're moving out of this trap...
into a bigger one.
You're ranking officer here,
you give the order to die.
General Terry was in time
to save the rest of us.
But time had run out
for Colonel Custer.
The victory was theirs,
along with the memory
and the shame
which the Indians
and the Long Knives
must share
for all time.
Of 251 officers and enlisted
men under his command,
none survived.
In the words of Sitting Bull,
the Indians had indeed
had their day.
Whatever his mistakes,
George Armstrong Custer
died a brave man.
I have nothing more to add.
And you,
Major Reno?
Nothing, sir.
This court of inquiry
is recessed for deliberation.
Be seated.
Major Reno, please rise.
It is the conclusion
of this court of inquiry
that no further proceedings
in this case are warranted.
It is our opinion
the conduct of those surviving
officers of the 7th Cavalry
during the Battle
of Little Bighorn
requires no review.
By their gallantry,
they have proven that
the Army of the United States,
in victory or defeat,
is again worthy of the flag
which it carries
and the nation it defends.
This court of inquiry
is recessed.