The Wilderness Road (2021) Movie Script

(crickets chirping)
(indistinct chatter)
- Father forbade me from seeing him.
He wasn't willing to
admit that his daughter
was ready for courting.
So, we'd sneak out at night,
with my long winter cape and
I'd put him under the cape.
(group applauds and laughs)
And in the morning we
would leave the same way.
(group laughs)
A little music.
(violin plays and feet stamp)
- I have something I'm a show you.
- This is quite the welcome, thank you.
I know you weren't happy
about it but we were in love.
(folk music continues)
- A fathers is never ready
to see his daughter leave.
But you shouldn't have
took her to Diamond Island,
it's no place for my daughter.
- I have plenty of friends
there, we were safe.
- Friends you say?
It's a den of thieves.
- Can I dare say, a few of
those men you might have seen
when they were soldiers
fighting for this great land,
much like you, Sam.
- We learned to do many things.
- I assure you she was safe.
Did you not have something to show me?
- Yes.
(folk music continues)
(footsteps crunching)
(crickets chirping)
I've been looking for a plot of land
to build a cabin for you two.
There's a bit of land back here.
Let's go back to the party.
(ominous music)
(men grunting)
- Father, what are you doing?
(daughter gasps)
(ominous music continues)
- [Sam] It had to be done.
- Yes father, I will dispose of him.
(footsteps crunching)
- I won't be made a fool.
(folk music continues quietly)
(melancholy music)
(door clicks)
I have no idea when we shall return.
- Do not, you do not belong here.
I scarcely recognize the man I wed.
- That man stands before you
and that man shall always be that man.
or elsewhere.
- Father!
(melancholy music continues)
The law will be at our
heels if we do not leave.
- There was a time when the
law knew the difference,
between an outlaw,
and me.
(footsteps banging)
(horses clopping)
- [Little Harpe] Thus began
Samuel Mason's life of crime,
along with my big brother and I,
he was to become the most
notorious of those land pirates
who stalk the Natchez Trace.
Yet this was not the first blood
that flowed along that
passageway and the ones like it,
twas there since men cut
paths, through the wilderness.
(soft folk music)
(crickets chirping)
(footsteps crunching)
- I implore you Mr Langford,
please, reconsider.
All but a God-fearing man
would be tempted robbery
upon finding such a well-to-do
gentlemen like yourself,
traveling the wilderness
trace alone at night.
- I really must make haste sir,
if I'm to meet my associate
at our predetermined time.
- To live to meet your associate,
you should remain and
wait for other travelers.
Do not travel alone.
- I really must go.
- Then at least wait
until the light of day
and remain until morning.
- I have a bad feeling
of your leaving now sir,
it is foolhardy.
Please listen to my father
and delay until morning.
(clock jangles)
- As you wish.
But I will leave at first
light and postpone no longer.
- Put Mr. Langford's horse away safe.
- Gladly father.
(woman singing indistinctly=)
- May we water our animal mister?
- Oh, I, I'm not the proprietor
of this establishment but,
I do believe the water's
welcome to all who come and go.
You have a delightful voice ma'am.
- Well, that's nice of you to say, mister.
- Thomas Langford ma'am.
(footsteps banging)
They've stopped for water,
with your permission of course.
- Yes, by all means.
Those boiled eggs are just about ready,
if you're ready for them.
I made up some extras for
you to take on the road
with you too.
- Yes, thank you.
I'll be along momentarily.
- Can we get some eggs too?
I'm famished.
- And pay with what?
No, you're gonna wait.
- I'll kill us something along the trail.
We'll eat then.
- How'm I s'posed to grow this thing in me
if I'm only eating for one?
I need to eat for two.
- We only got the one meal yesterday.
I'm starving, and if I'm
starving then this baby
is starving too.
- I said we'll eat later!
And we will!
- Please, excuse my boldness sir but,
I couldn't help in
overhearing your predicament.
May I invite you all to join
me for breakfast, as my guest?
That is, if you are agreeable?
(ominous music)
We've all fallen on hard
times at one point or another
in our lives.
Well there's, there's no
shame in taking a helping hand
from those more, more
fortunate when ones offered.
It would be my pleasure sir, please.
- Do you imply, mister,
that I can't take care of my own family.
- No, no, not at all.
I'm merely a lonely traveler,
craving some company
and some conversation,
nothing more.
And if I can help some fine folk like you,
that have fallen upon hard
times in the process well,
that will make me the happier still.
I intended no offense sir.
Please, allow me this,
this small indulgence.
Join me.
- I do not need, nor accept charity.
- What my brother is trying to say,
Mr. Langford,
is we will breakfast with you,
but we wanna earn that meal.
We'll do something for you in return.
I see that you're traveling alone.
Perhaps we could accompany you,
provide escort for you?
Where did you say you were going?
- Toward Crab Orchard.
- As are we.
So here's what's gonna
happen, Mr. Langford.
We will partake, of your
very generous hospitality.
And then by way of recompense,
we'll travel with you to Crab Orchard.
My brother and I ensuring
safe passage for us all.
You see,
as loyalist soldiers,
we've done our fair share
of fighting and killing,
when it was required.
It would be an ill-fated
decision for any highwaymen
to accost us, on the wilderness road.
- Did you say you were loyalist?
To the crown?
- To the crown, you heard that well.
- Gentlemen, we have an agreement.
Let us fill our bellies.
(footsteps banging)
(footsteps crunching)
(footsteps banging)
Would you be so kind as to
serve up those surplus eggs
you prepared for me,
for my new friends and
traveling companions?
I will no longer be
traveling unaccompanied
you will be pleased to know.
- And if it's conversation
you're after Mr. Langford,
then sit right 'cause Sally
can talk the hind legs
off a donkey.
- May I?
- Sit wherever you like.
- I didn't wanna sit between
you and your wife, sir.
That would be impolite.
Although I am having a bit of trouble
discerning who here belongs to who is all.
(fork bangs)
- I don't belong,
to no man
and for a certainty to know,
one thing,
you see when I'm with a man,
it's because I choose to be.
And if he ain't keeping me satisfied,
(blows kiss)
well then, I simply find myself,
a man that will.
- And this big hunk o' man?
He belongs to me, mostly.
- And this big fella, is mine.
(all laughing)
(eggs clattering)
- So tell me Mr.
Langford, are you married?
- [Big Harpe] I must
forewarn you Mr Langford,
we will be making frequent
stops along the way.
(birds cheeping)
(crickets chirping)
(soft music)
- [Captain Ballenger] I
may not know yet the name
of his poor murdered soul,
but I presume to know the
names of those that killed him.
The brothers Macajah and Wiley Harpe.
They are Tories, loyalists, murderers,
devoid of conscience and of mercy,
and without motive.
These men are named as
suspects in the murders
of several persons of late.
The most recent being that
of one of their accusers,
a man named Johnson from Jefferson County.
He with others captured the
Harpes in the act of stealing
horses, gutted, and his
cavity filled with stones
to weigh him down.
If it were not for his
remains being disturbed
by the fast flowing water,
his body would never
have risen to the surface
and been discovered.
I speculate that many more
have met this same fate
at the hands of the Harpe brothers.
But of them, we may never know.
- The killing of Johnson
has awakened a blood lust
in these men.
And the citizens of Tennessee and Kentucky
live in fear of them.
Settlers in all sections
of the Middle West
are rightly afraid.
- Captain Ballenger, these
outrageous acts must cease
and these men brought to justice
as a matter of great urgency.
- I agree wholeheartedly Mr. Blaine
- Then take as many men as are willing,
and go hunt them down.
(chair banging)
And Ballenger, act swiftly,
before the trail grows cold.
- Yes, sir.
I'll gather men and provisions
and depart post haste.
(soft music)
I wish we had more men.
Underestimate the
malevolence of these people
to your own peril sir,
they will give no quarter.
Sneak round and come in from behind.
When I see you're in position,
I will ride in from the front.
(gun cocks)
(foliage rustling)
(Sally humming)
- Killed with his own blade.
It would have been less
painful, if he'd kept it sharp.
(dramatic music)
(horse trotting)
- You're under arrest.
(dramatic music continues)
Hold your guard, sir!
(dramatic music continues)
- Hey that's mine!
- Is that so? Mr. Langford?
- [Sally] Well I found
it, therefore it's mine.
- Who the hell are you?
- Captain Ballenger, you're under arrest.
- I'm Micajah Harpe,
some call me Big.
- And I'm Little.
- I know who you are.
(dramatic music continues)
(footsteps crunching)
Strip these men and
search their belongings.
(Little Harpe grunts)
Put this one in iron's.
Rope will suffice for the others.
(dramatic music continues)
(irons jangling)
- Step forward and have your
piece of me if you dare!
Fight me!
I'll brawl with any one
of ya, just step on up!
What about you?!
Maybe you big boy, come on!
Defeat me and I'll submit
myself to the courts
and the noose without further protest!
That's what you want int it!
If I lose, you can pass
your own judgment on me!
But if I win, I win our freedom!
Are there any two men and all of Kentucky
who'd face me together?
No cowards!
Get back behind the skirts
of your women and stay there,
before I don't give you
a choice in the matter!
Cowards, the lot of ya!
(hammer banging)
(Big Harpe grunts)
(crickets chirping)
(soft music)
- You there,
fetch some water so she
can clean that wound.
That was no request.
You choose to dislike us.
But you hardly knows us.
That is not a very shrewd decision.
We will not be incarcerated forever.
You do understand that, don't you?
My brother and I, we may
not be spared the noose,
but these women will.
In a matter of time, they
will regain their liberty
and seek vengeance upon our persecutors
and their families, who
will be burned alive,
in the beds where they sleep.
do you wish that upon you and yours
over a simple bowl of water?
John Bigler isn't it?
Everyone knows the jailer of Danville.
Don't be so scared John,
we can still be friends.
Shall we begin again?
Now fetch some water,
my new friend.
(water gurgles)
(crickets chirping)
(Biegler grunting)
- [Biegler] Don't hurt me!
- Why would I hurt you, John?
We're friends aren't we?
I appreciate my friends.
And I think you and I are
going to be very good friends,
don't you?
- [Biegler] Yes sir.
Real good friends.
(soft music continues)
- How were they able to escape
right under your nose, Biegler?
Were you sleeping?
- No, sir.
I don't know how they, how they got out.
Maybe they had somebody
helping them from the outside.
- [Blaine] And why do you remain here?
- As we have insisted all along sir,
we are not with these men by choice,
but under duress.
- Those women are liars Mr. Blaine.
Allow them to stay here and
deliver their evil spawn,
I guarantee the moment they're released,
they'll go back to their old ways.
- You still hold that they're accomplices
in those murders Captain?
- I do sir, and I'll prove it.
Permit me to follow 'em on their release.
I wager they'll lead
me right back to their
murderous husbands.
Why, they only remain now
because of the inconvenience
of being with child.
- Ladies,
you had the opportunity to escape today
and chose to remain.
When you are released, you
will be free of these men
and free to start over as you please,
I urge you to make the
most of that opportunity.
(footsteps crunching)
- Whatever your sins were,
they've been accounted for.
The Lord has forgiven you,
now go and sin no more.
- These few clothes and
supplies should be sufficient
to help you get back on your feet.
To start afresh and follow
the path of the righteousness.
- Thank you both, you are too kind.
I was hoping to bid farewell
to Mr. Biegler, our jailer,
he was most kind to us
during our incarceration but,
I haven't seen him for some weeks now.
- Mr. Biegler, I'm told, bought
some land, took up farming.
- Well, then let the Lord bless him.
- Yes, yes.
(soft music)
- [Little Harpe] The women
disappeared down river.
Captain Ballenger pursued
them for days to no avail.
And he was finally
forced to concede defeat.
Knowing they had surely been
reunited with Big and I.
- Dammit!
- [Little Harpe] But he would
not be the last to follow
our bloody trail.
There would be many more.
(soft music continues)
- They're close.
I can smell 'em.
(screaming and wailing)
(branches snapping)
Where y'all going?
(wailing continues)
Well I'll be damned.
(dramatic music)
(grass rustling)
(dramatic music continues)
(violin playing)
(indistinct chatter)
- That's far enough, mister.
- Sir, I mean you no harm.
- That so?
- My name is Henry Skaggs,
I'm a long hunter out of
Kentucky and I need your help.
I'm hunting the Harpe brothers.
- All on your own.
- So you have heard of 'em.
- Come, have something to drink.
- Mister I don't think you heard me.
- Oh, I heard you and
that's why I'm offering
you something to drink and that's all.
- Look around you.
I see women and children.
If we choose do nothing,
they could be next.
- I see the same as you Mr.
Skaggs, women, children,
and just a few able men,
now does that look like a posse to you?
- The Harpes are animals, with
the right number of people
we can put them down, for good.
- Mr. Skaggs we're not soldiers
here, just simple folk.
- Look, I understand
your want and your need
to keep your people and families safe.
But are any of you truly safe
with the Harpes on the loose?
- My sister and her husband
were supposed to be here
three weeks ago.
I fear the worst.
- You owe it to your people
and you to your family to help.
Don't let their fate be
determined by our inaction.
- Mr. Skaggs, we can't
help and that's final.
Now my offer of food
and drink still stands.
- So you would fill your belly,
while they cut open others.
- That's enough, be on your way.
- I shall.
For your sake I hope he's
made the right choice.
(violin starts playing)
- I know a man you might ask for help.
His name's Trabue.
He was once a-
- A Colonel.
He live in these parts?
- In a cabin.
Just a mile or so east off the road.
- Thanks.
Perhaps your sister will
find her way to you.
- Thank you.
And God speed.
(footsteps crunching)
- Hold it right there!
Unless you want some lead in your gut.
- Good afternoon, Colonel.
- Well I'll be damned.
Henry Skaggs, set that long rifle down
and come up here and
pour yourself a drink.
- Think I'll do just that.
- Well, well,
what brings you out this way?
(soft music)
- Well Colonel,
just not many men in these parts with your
talent for fighting.
- No.
- At least hear me out.
- [Trabue] No, Mr. Skaggs,
I am done.
I got my boy here and
I'll be damned if I'm gonna go out there
and die on the trail
chasing God knows what.
- I understand Colonel, really I do,
but I can't just stand by
while innocents are robbed,
torn asunder.
These are ordinary folk Colonel.
They're not soldiers.
- Are the stories true?
- [Henry] About the Harpes?
- Yes.
- Yes.
Every damn bit of it.
Every man, woman, and child,
they are the meaning of horror Colonel.
Bodies found cut open, filled with rocks
and thrown in the river.
Whole families found murdered
with their heads bashed in.
- Damn,
I can't do it Henry, I really can't.
I got my boy John here and
he's just not ready to be on his own yet.
- Well,
I had hope.
I just can't seem to keep
a group of men together
long enough to catch these bastards.
We get close and they turn tail and run.
- You will find 'em Henry.
Evil always finds its end
at the hands of good men.
(dog wailing)
- Colonel?
- [Colonel] Shh.
(ominous music)
That's Jasper.
- Who's Jasper?
- Jasper's my boys dog, they
travel everywhere together.
(Jasper wailing)
- Something aint right.
- Oh hell!
Skaggs, take him up to the house.
Answer me boy!
- Goodbye little fella.
- John!
(ominous music continues)
(branches snapping)
John, John, John.
(dramatic music)
(Trabue breathes heavily)
I'm in.
- Colonel?
- I said I'm in.
You help me bury my son,
and we'll kill these sons of bitches.
(dramatic music continues)
(gunshot bangs)
- [Little Harpe] Now
with Trabue at his side,
Skaggs was able to convince a lot more
to do the right thing.
(gunshots popping)
A group of regulators was formed.
(gunshot pops)
They set out and scoured the land.
(gunshot pops)
Rounding up and putting
so many outlaws to justice
in the name of old judge lynch.
The regulators searched
high and low, far and wide,
(gunshot pops)
hung and shot many.
(gunshot pops)
Some died that maybe shouldn't have,
but the territory was made
safer for the families,
for the travelers.
The Colonel and Skaggs searched everywhere
they could for us.
But as fate would have it,
the death of young John would
not be avenged by his father.
Yes, we would meet our end eventually,
but not at the hands of Trabue
and his courageous companion.
I suppose it is inevitable that
all roads lead to one place.
And so it happens the wilderness road
brought us all together.
All of us bad men, at Cave In Rock.
- This thing any good?
- It ain't never failed me before,
least not 'til this morning.
- Hey!
That gun didn't fall asleep on the watch.
(soft music)
(grass rustling)
Moses, what you bring them here for?
- Just here waiting on their husbands.
- Husbands?
(footsteps crunching)
Thomas, take the prisoners to the cave.
- Come on.
- Keep 'em tied up tight.
Figure out what to do with 'em later.
Hey Billy,
you finish up over there.
Yeah it must be them.
All women with babies,
traveling with no men.
- Maybe they were just passing through.
We could ask 'em.
- No, y'all stay away from 'em.
This place,
used to be for men like us.
Honorable outlaws.
Now there are too far and few between,
like those filthy ass Harpes.
They show up, regulators
ain't too far behind.
- Where are we going?
- I don't know, wherever they ain't.
- [Woman] I knew you'd come.
- [Big Harpe] Of course we came.
If I said, we'd come, we come.
(ominous music)
- I'll be leaving at dawn.
And you, you feel safe to
stay, feel free to stay.
But Thomas,
you fetch the prisoners at sun up,
they ain't going with us.
We gotta figure a place to drop 'em.
(ominous music continues)
(footsteps banging)
- I can't find 'em?
- Dammit Thomas!
I told you to tie 'em tight!
(bodies thud)
(manic laughing)
- [Mason] Shit, what
the hell happened here?
- Holy shit! I bet y'all aint never seen
nothing like that before.
(manic laughing)
- Yeah! No one has.
(manic laughing)
- What the hell?
(laughing continues)
Did you see 'em go splat?!
Come on boys, you know a joke
when you see one don't ya?
- You need to pack up
your women and leave here!
- Well brother, I guess
we've overstayed our welcome.
Though we've only been here a day.
- No room at the inn says the innkeeper.
- No room?
Every highwayman and bandit
within a hundred miles
has been run out of
here by them regulators
looking to string you two up.
- Pack your women up and go.
And clean that Goddamn
mess of a man and woman up
you made down there!
(ominous music)
- See ya later.
(soft music)
- This was just starting
to feel like home.
- Well, it won't be once
those trigger happy farmers
come looking for the Harpes.
South to the trace we go.
(soft music continues)
(soft folk music)
(baby wailing)
(water sploshing)
(soft folk music continues)
(baby wailing)
(footsteps crunching)
- What's all this?
- It's too somber to be a hanging.
(footsteps crunching)
Where you going?
There's too much of a crowd!
The women are waiting for us!
(footsteps crunching)
- Brothers and sisters,
I welcome you today into
the presence of the Lord.
He is here,
- [Crowd] Amen.
here with us all right now.
And his message is,
he loves you, loves you all.
And he wants you to sin, no more.
Refrain from drink and loose women.
Refrain from casting a
covetous eye on your neighbor.
Refrain from cussing
and taking his name,
in vain.
- [Crowd] Amen, Amen.
- If he loved us so much,
he'd send more loose women
not ask us to refrain.
- Shush.
- He loves you, loves you like a mother.
Aint nothing you done, aint
nothing you could ever do,
could make him give up,
on loving you.
- Well, in that case I
guess he's gonna forgive
all the evil things we done.
(branches snap)
- And he wants you to know this love.
Isn't that right Lord?
(trumpet blowing)
I hear it!
The trumpet of Gabriel calling!
Do your hear it brothers and sisters?!
(trumpet blowing)
Do you hear it calling?!
(trumpet blowing)
(rock bangs)
(man grunts)
- Ha, ha, ha, charlatan!
False prophet!
- Now, brothers and sisters, please.
(grass rustling)
- He fooled us all!
- Lets get him!
(grass rustling)
- Look what I done, brother.
(crickets chirping)
So I throws the rock and it hits the tree
right beside his head and
he comes tumbling down
to the ground and the
horn right after him.
(all laughing)
Oh, if you could see
the faces of the crowd,
when the trumpet hit the ground.
(all laughing)
- Keep them damn things quiet!
Can't a man get no peace in his own camp?
(babies crying)
- Brother, imagine those sheep
thinking the Lord himself
had come down to some muddy Kentucky field
just because a backwoods
preacher had called for it.
(all laughing)
(baby crying)
- I said quiet dammit!
One of them regulator's gonna
hear them things screaming!
And we all gonna hang for it.
(babies crying)
(crickets chirping)
(baby crying)
- Come on, if that were to happen,
you could just repent and
call on the Angel Gabriel
and he would come down and
lift you up into the heavens.
- Argh!
(dramatic music)
(baby crying)
(baby thuds)
(dramatic music intensifies)
(breathes heavily)
- I killed your child.
What are you gonna do about it?
- What's mine is yours brother.
What's mine,
is yours.
- Yeah, it's good to see
preachers around these parts.
A few weeks ago, the horse preacher, Eli,
he was found to be a charlatan.
He was using a boy in a tree
to be the Angel Gabriel.
- Sacrilege!
- Yeah.
And it's a shame our
country's become so godless
and needs our preachers
to be so heavily armed.
- These weapons were gifted to us.
- His blessing.
- You can't be too careful in these parts.
I hear, the Harpes are coming this way.
- As have I,
no doubt to ambush their
sworn enemy Colonel Trabue.
I hear he's gathering
regulators on account
of what they've done to his boy.
And they aim to have them
Harpe brothers hanged.
- Terrible that we've heard tell.
Perhaps we should pay
Colonel Trabue a visit?
- Yes.
- Pray for him.
- That would be good.
I apologize for the meager meal gentlemen,
there's not much venison
as I haven't been hunting
in the past few weeks.
I seem to have run out of powder
and it's in short supply out here.
- Out of powder?
- No gentlemen, I possibly couldn't.
- Nonsense.
We're taking the last of a man's meat.
At least we can do is give him the powder
to catch something else.
- Bless you, brothers.
It seems you have more
experience at this that I.
Would you like to say grace?
- Let us pray.
Oh Lord, we are much obliged
for this food we have here.
May it give us the sustenance
to carry on your work.
(stiffled laugh)
May the gunpowder, we lent this man
give him a successful hunt
and may Colonel Trabue,
find the Harpes
and bring those evil bastards to justice.
- Amen.
- Amen.
- [Little Harpe] While we
masqueraded as men of the cloth,
some believed we were the
incarnation of the devil himself.
No justice of man could bring our end
and soon it was on only
prayer that men depended.
(rain clattering)
(thunder rumbling)
(baby gurgling)
(thunder rumbling)
(rain clattering)
- I've got food for ya.
- The brothers will be coming by tonight.
They'll need food and a place to sleep.
- Must they?
- It's part of the arrangement.
- What do I do if the baby
cries and keeps 'em awake?
- Keep the baby quiet.
(thunder rumbling)
And keep your mouth shut, no names.
- Are you headed out?
Is your home open for a night's rest
and a meal and shelter from the storm?
- If you're paying?
- Of course.
(coins clatter)
- Fix him some supper.
Gonna be moving on at
first light. Mr. Love.
- Thank you for your hospitality.
- This is a fine meal.
You had a good raising,
I can tell by the taste of your food.
- I've never heard such a thing.
- It's been long told that
you can read a woman's raising
by the richness of her flavors.
- My daddy was a carpenter and a dreamer.
We were gonna live on the
banks of the Mississippi river.
- Savages?
- Mm, mm.
Our flatboat ran aground.
I had been terrified, ever
since we got on that river,
whole time I just kept thinking about
my Blue Ridge Mountains.
Wonder why they weren't enough for him.
We were following Colonel Donaldson.
He got in the current and he
couldn't get back to help us.
I saw what they did to my mom and daddy.
I've never seen so much blood.
Me and a couple of others got away.
I don't recall much else after that.
Except when Moses found me.
I remember when he got me.
- And the others?
- I don't know.
My favorite time of year
on the mountain is winter.
Snow is so beautiful.
It's pure white and the
way the sun'll hit it.
Take your breath away.
- This is a beautiful country.
Perhaps one day it's people
will match its splendor.
(baby gurgles)
(door knocking)
(door clicking)
(ominous music)
- Preacher.
- Bless you ma'am.
- William Love.
- I'm Jamieson Crenshaw.
This is my,
brother in Christ, Malachi Johnson.
- Are we late for dinner?
(ominous music continues)
(crockery rattles)
- Let us pray.
Our father who art in heaven,
we give thanks for this meal prepared
by the hands of your child.
And we also give thanks
for this fellowship
of like-minded followers.
We pray your hand of
protection over our lives.
As we defend ourselves
against the devil incarnate
that roams this country.
- Amen.
- You're getting quite
good at that brother.
- [Big Harpe] What news of the Harpes?
- They hadn't been seen but in a few days,
but Squire McBee had
visitors a few nights past,
his dogs kept them at bay.
Could have been savages but
McBee swears he could feel
the Harpes in his bones.
Claims that he could smell evil.
- Squire McBee was lucky.
His good dogs were a distraction.
- Don't confuse luck,
with the deliverance
of our father's grace.
It is his hand alone that saves us.
- Indeed.
- What brings you to the trace?
- The Lord leads us where he needs us.
- You'll only find
carnage behind the Harpes.
It don't matter.
Go west or, or go back east.
They'll kill you for your guns alone.
- I hear they'll kill you for less.
- Thank you for the meal,
I'd like to wash up.
Get some rest.
- Mr. Love is up in the loft,
there's room in the barn.
- No, no, no, I won't hear of it.
It's not safe.
I'll be parting ways at dawn and any ways,
there's enough room up
there for all three of us.
- Mr. Love, you have
such a generous spirit.
You shall be blessed.
(loud snoring)
(loud snoring continues)
(loud snoring continues)
(loud snoring continues)
(lips smacking)
(ominous music)
(axe thuds)
(baby giggling)
(baby crying)
- Coffee?
- I didn't hear Mr. Love leave?
- Oh, he departed.
(baby wailing)
A long time ago.
(baby crying continues)
- Shush, shush.
- Just let her cry ma'am.
It's only natural she
makes a sound like that.
- It is a cold morning.
Shall I keep the fire going?
- Yeah.
(baby crying)
- You look just like my little one.
(baby crying)
- Shush, shush, shush.
(wood bangs)
(ominous music)
(baby crying)
(fire crackling intensely)
(somber music)
- We seen the smoke and come a-running!
- I won't stop until they're dead.
- I've seen enough death and enough blood.
Let the law take them.
- Like hell I will!
- It can't be!
- I'm going to get my horse.
Y'all be ready.
- They'll kill us all.
- You're either with me,
or you're dead McBee.
- Dammit to hell!
- We've used all the firepower I can get.
But I get to kill, both of them.
(lively folk music)
(horses trotting)
(lively folk music continues)
(baby crying)
- Lets get moving.
- Let us stay here,
you can come back for us later.
- Doesn't seem like you care
too much for us these days.
- We can't go on.
(baby crying)
- You going barefoot?
I'm not gonna hurt you.
(dramatic music)
(baby crying)
(dramatic music intensifies)
- Where'd they go?
(babies crying)
- You're never gonna catch them!
- Easy Stegall!
- The bodies of my wife and child
were too hot for me to touch!
- Watch out for that tomahawk
or it's gonna end up stuck in your back!
- Are you gonna (indistinct) stitches?
(babies wailing)
(dramatic music)
- Dammit!
- Here, take mine!
Kill the bastard!
(dramatic music continues)
(gunshot bangs)
(grunting continues)
- Hey, I know this man.
He gave me his powder.
You shot him with it.
- He's still breathing.
- Well not for long.
- Hello Moses.
- If he dies, let him die,
if not deliver him to Danville.
- Wake up!
I want you conscious when I cut your head.
- Water.
- Moses! Ain't what you seen enough?
- I killed my brother
(indistinct) in a fit of rage,
it's my only regret.
He didn't deserve to die like that.
You're a goddamn rough butcher!
(indistinct) be damned!
(dramatic music)
(Big Harpe gurgling)
(dramatic music)
- [Little Harpe] There they
left his head as a marker
for all to see,
as a warning to all of our kind.
Susan, Betsy and Sally went
on to live normal lives,
almost as if their past
was only a nightmare.
And of the one who got away.
I vanished from sight.
But would soon return along another road.
The Natchez Trace.
(dramatic music)
- You know who that is?
That's the remains of a villainous outlaw.
Some called him Big Harpe.
They placed his skull there two years ago,
as a warning to other
outlaws, like myself.
Do you know who I am?
- Yes, sir.
You're Captain Samuel Mason.
- [Mason] Captain?
- Fought for our independence.
- Not many remember so.
You are one John Swaney.
In charge of carrying the mail
from Natchez to Nashville,
dangerous journey for a man to be making
every two weeks.
- Yes sir.
- Big Harpe,
he was no outlaw though, no not him.
He was a savage and a brute,
no regard the life of man, woman or child.
He'd slay anyone that got in his path.
Hell! He was more savage than the savages!
- As many times as I've
been through these woods,
I've never noticed.
I slept under that very
tree not very long ago,
to find rest under the
remains of such a man.
- No harm'll come to you.
I'm here to find out
about what you've heard
on your travels.
- They say sir, that
you're a gentlemen robber.
- Well that I am, a
gentlemen and a robber.
Mr. Swaney, I think you
can do better than that.
- I'm not sure what news I may have
that would be any value to ya.
- All word is a value to someone.
Where would that leave you?
I'm betting you're privy
to a lot more information
than you know.
If word tells it, I've
been associated with
the likes of him.
- Sir there's been some talk.
- Well go on.
- There's a tale that there
was a traveler passing through
Natchez, an older woman
there stitched $600
into clothes he was wearing.
He was found robbed, killed
just a few days later.
- What does that have to do with me?
- Well in (indistinct),
they say you're men
are the ones that did it.
Some say they saw your men
in the area when it happened.
Some say your gang has
taken up the traditions
of the Harpes, killing,
not slaughtering like them.
- A damn lie!
Goddamn lie!
I don't kill for the sake of killing,
not like those despicable sons of Tories!
I don't kill no one, but I
can't account for the actions
of each and every one of my men.
Rarely and under the duress
of the circumstances,
my men may not have been given the choice,
but to be compared to the
brutality of a filthy Harpe.
- Nobody who's met you
thinks so, nobody sir.
If I may speak true, it's just rumors
to try to turn the people against you.
- Swaney,
I asked and you told me, that's fair.
I will call on you from time to time,
for now carry on your route,
but tell no one that we spoke.
And sleep sound, knowing
that you have no fear
from me or my men.
That sir, I will guarantee.
- Captain!
The rivers are swollen up north.
There'll be heading this way.
It'll just be a matter
of time, maybe a week.
If I were you I'd stick
to the higher ground.
(soft music)
(cicadas clicking)
(grass rustling)
- We thought they was coming back,
when we heard you getting
close, bit jumpy I guess
after last night.
- What happened?
- We was ambushed.
There were six of 'em,
but you could tell that
the old man was in charge.
- Mason?
- Yeah sir, that's the name he used.
- Was anybody wounded?
- No sir, not a soul.
- The old man, he only let
'em take half our food.
- They took a couple of pack horses
and most of our weapons
and God only knows what else.
- They took my only pants.
(all laughing)
What? You lot think you have
britches big enough to fit?
What are we gonna to do?
We need our supplies.
- I can spread the word
at the next settlement,
but it'll be a day before
somebody can get here, if then.
Robbers will be gone two counties by then.
I think the only thing for y'all to do is
form up and go after 'em.
They're not gonna use
anything that they don't need.
(grass rustling)
- All right.
- Yes.
I've found my pants!
- All right!
- Gentlemen, you best
collect your assets, move on.
(grass rustling)
Never look back, see me again.
(folk music)
- Captain Mason, Thomas,
it's splendid to see you both again.
I trusted you were thirsty.
- The last few months been good?
- They most certainly have,
there are now more people
moving to and through
Natchez than ever before.
- With good fortune,
comes concern for caution.
Thomas said we shouldn't show our faces
when we ride into town today.
And after seeing some of
the looks as we rode in,
I believe him to be right.
- Sir, I do have some urgent news for you.
There's a Colonel Baker
in town who was stirring
the governor against you,
he is rushing him to make a
proclamation for your arrest.
I'm distressed to say I only
heard this moments before
your arrival.
There's no word as to when he may do this.
But a reward of $900 for
your capture was mentioned.
- He's just mad because
he let an old military man
get the best of him.
The best thing he can do, is
accept defeat and move on.
Alas, traitor he will always be.
And he didn't even attempt to
raise his pistol against me.
Just stood there, shaking,
embarrassing himself in front of his men.
- I know the type.
I must say I'm concerned
that posting up a reward
may bring trouble against
you sooner rather than later.
- Anthony, I think we need to
cut this conversation short,
continue at a later time.
- Mr. Glass, it is always a pleasure.
- Madame Aberjais, that
pleasure is mine alone.
Please may I introduce you
to Captain Samuel Mason
and his son, Thomas Mason.
- It's a pleasure to meet such, gentlemen.
And so well known for it, if
the talk around here is true.
Why don't you come see
me down near the hill
and unburden yourself of
those gentlemanly ways.
- Well I may have a wife.
She is distant in many ways.
- Oh Mr Mason, there's no need for such
unnecessary revelations.
- Madam,
as much as I would love to enjoy
your exquisite company,
our time here will not permit.
And as it saddens me,
I do expect to see you very soon.
- Make sure he knows
the way you would you?
I'd hate for him to get lost,
when time permits, Captain.
(indistinct chatter)
(footsteps clatter)
- We should go.
- Let us take our leave through the back.
- Our horses are out
front, take leave partner.
Shall we?
(ominous music)
(stalls clatter)
(whips cracking)
(whip cracking continues)
- Innocent!
(whips cracking)
- Ladies and gentlemen, I was on the jury.
If I had my say, they woulda hung,
those rampants, killers,
deserve to hang.
No pity for them!
(whips cracking)
- Liar!
You're lying!
(somber music)
You've just punished an innocent man!
And the next time I'm punished,
mark my words,
I'll be guilty as sin!
Haw! Haw!
(horses trotting)
I've been waiting two full days for you.
Comforted by the thought,
of blowing off your head.
And what did my son and
I ever do to harm you?
What gave you the right to proclaim that
we should hang for a
crime we did not commit?
- Nothing gave me the right,
if I was wrong it was only
because the Colonel and
May were dead set you were
the ones that done it.
I was just following orders,
please, please I beg you,
I have a wife and young 'uns.
- Get down on your knees,
say your last prayers.
Take your hat off!
Do you talk to God with it on?
Pray I said!
- Oh heavenly Father,
protect my helpless wife
and young 'uns, spare their
lives and spare my life.
- Sir.
The satisfaction of splitting your skull,
it's not worth the sin I'd
have to carry for eternity.
Let me say,
you might just be the
last fortunate man I meet.
(ominous music)
(footsteps crunching)
- Mason.
(fire crackling)
(ominous music continues)
- Spotters confirmed that
there was six of 'em.
So we mounted up and I lead out 14 men
feeling very confident that
we was gonna kill 'em quickly
and get back to our mundane soldiering.
Well, when we got close,
I could see that we were flanked
by hundreds on both sides.
The first group, let me pass
and before I could turn my horse around,
I could see my men dying
right before my very eyes.
Tomahawks come raining down,
from more men than I could count.
I fell from my horse and I was crawling
through all the fury,
while being trampled by all the horses.
And unbeknownst to me,
Captain Ogle had rushed from
the fort with 12 men of his own
ignorant to the numbers
he was fixing to face.
But he caused a distraction,
which allowed me to
crawl under a felled tree
and I laid there hiding
until all the Indians fell.
Me and my 14 men,
had rode in to over 400 Indians
that was hiding in the corn,
in the grass,
just like ghosts.
Out of the 28 that faced the hundreds,
only five of us lived.
(footsteps crunching)
- Father, these two were
making so much noise,
they didn't even hear
me when I rode upon 'em
and I wasn't even trying to be that quiet.
This dark one here, had this one tied up,
stringing him behind his horse.
He said he wants to join us
and brought this bounty hunter as a token.
He's got a reward paper
with your name on it.
- I ain't hunting nobody.
I promise you.
I swear to God.
Two days ago, I woke up with this man
standing over top of me with a knife.
And that son of a bitch,
wouldn't give me no water,
he made me piss myself.
Now what kind of a man makes
another man piss his self?
- Where'd you get the paper?
- I was given it to pass it along, sir,
I ain't no bounty hunter.
I ain't outfitted for it.
I was given that paper in
Natchez just to pass along.
- Billy, go get that paper.
- Man that gave me it said
he was gonna make sure
that paper was on every
fence post between Nachez
and Nashville.
Sir, I'm just walking to
Nashville to care for my mama.
God's word on that.
- Nights like tonight,
make me feel grateful
that I can reminisce here,
with my Patriots.
We are free men.
Living on free land, given
to us by the good Lord above
and our very own blood.
We choose our own path.
The path that is different
from the other crooks.
The real crooks wanna
bend men at their will
by making up laws and
writing proclamations.
The noble governor calls
us pirates and robbers!
Well, hell, he's got us there!
They say that Samuel Mason
is the leader of the Bandede.
Along with a man named,
Why, oh why, do they
associate our good name
with such dishonorable heathens?
- How much are we worth Captain?
- $2,000.
For $2,000,
I think I'll find Little Harpe myself
and deliver his head to the governor.
Let this man, be gone,
so he can go take care of his mama.
He ain't gonna do us no harm.
- Thank you.
- And you,
you say you wanna join up?
- [Little Harpe] Yes, sir.
- What's your name?
- Setton sir,
(ominous music)
(dramatic music)
- [Little Harpe] And so I
found myself in the company
of Samuel Mason's gang and on the run
from our own countrymen.
We made our way into Spanish territory.
(dramatic music)
(crickets chirping)
(crickets chirping loudly)
(twig cracks)
(footsteps crunching)
- I thought I heard somebody.
(door bangs)
- Who might be Samuel Mason?
- I am.
Who the hell are you?
- Captain Vasquez of the Spanish militia.
Mr. Mason, I place you under arrest.
- I have broke no law.
You have the wrong man!
- Your days of piracy have ended.
- You must prove these false lies.
I demand to face my accusers!
- You only have to face me.
- [Captain Vasquez] The magistrate.
- Some of you have no avenue
for escaping the execution.
A few may have a path
if you so choose to go.
There are accusations of
activity from scoundrels
on the trails and the waterway.
There may be leniency
for one, perhaps two.
If you're willing to testify.
(ominous music)
- I have been taken hostage by these men.
He has taken me hostage.
I've been afraid to speak,
but I've seen things, terrible things
of which I was not a participant.
(punch thuds)
I am John Setton, just a farmer
fallen prey to these men.
As I told you before,
they've taken me captive.
Samuel Mason,
he is an evil man.
I've heard them talk, all of them.
They're all murderers and thieves.
My only hope for survival was to pretend
as if I was one of them
until I could escape.
Your arrival,
gives me only joy.
- What have you heard them speak of?
- You must protect me.
- He does not speak
for me, for or against,
his hands are as red as
anybody in this room!
- I have heard them speak of the river.
Having spies to board the
boats and lure them ashore
where they wait.
And the women, they have
women to wait by the roadside
and summon the passersby
so that they may be robbed
and killed.
- All lies!
- Silence that man!
(slap thuds)
Why should I accept what
you say is the truth?
Perhaps you're Samuel Mason
out to save your own soul.
- Samuel Mason has already
confessed to his identity.
Do you have the name of
John Setton on your papers?
An innocent man would come forward.
I have nothing to hide.
- I don't know what was
being said over there,
but rest assured he was only
trying to save his own skin.
- Mr. Setton says you are
the outlaw Samuel Mason.
- Yes sir, I am, but I am no outlaw.
My boy and I are farmers.
And that is none other than the man
named Wiley Harpe over there,
better known as Little Harpe,
the last alive of the two brothers.
- I have heard of this man's
reputation, as well as yours.
- I would say yes, but he's
the one that's been doing
all the robbing and killing,
using good folks' names like mine
to deceive the authorities.
- What do you know of
these crimes alleged?
- I do not know anything
other than what I've heard.
I have not participated in any crimes.
- What of have taking Mr. Setton hostage?
- I took him in from
April, only to be told
by a traveler his true name.
- A traveler?
- Yes, a traveler that was so
scared to be seen with him,
that he left in haste.
- It would appear no one here
knows how to speak the truth.
- You have no proof of any crime
that has been committed here.
You must release us
or there will be need for
answers for what has happened
here today.
- Oh, you will be released,
to the authorities on the
American side of the river.
They can have their way with you.
(footsteps crunching)
- This is an illegal extradition.
- The Americans will soon be here
and they will take you to Natchez.
- I was once a soldier, like you.
- You know what's gonna
happen, when we get to Natchez.
Let's set aside our differences,
with our combined efforts,
we can still escape.
- Even if it means my sudden death,
I will never join forces
with the likes of you.
Bringing you into our company
is the second biggest mistake I've made.
- And the first?
- Leading us down this road.
(ominous music)
(footsteps crunching)
- Captain Vasquez,
I'm Captain Ballenger, I
have papers for these men.
The rest of my men are watering the horses
around that bend in the river.
(ominous music continues)
- Yes, I've followed you
all the way, Mr Harpe.
(ominous music)
(water glugging)
(footsteps crunching)
- Hold up!
I'm thirsty.
- Keep 'um moving.
(gunshot bangs)
(gunshot bangs)
(Mason yelps)
(gunshot bangs)
(Ballenger grunts)
(dramatic music)
(Ballenger grunts)
(dramatic music continues)
(water splashes)
(dramatic music continues)
- Harpe!
- What are you doing here?
- I got word they come fetch ya.
Figured I could be of some use.
I see you made your way
into the Mason gang,
just like we planned.
- There was no plan for
the Spanish bastards.
If it wasn't for them,
I'd have Mason by now.
- We could make our way
back up river, to Kentuck.
- I will collect the bounty.
He can't be far.
(ominous music)
- [Little Harpe] Mason!
I'm coming for you!
(ominous music continues)
(Mason breathes heavily)
- No.
before they reach us.
- Not without you.
This began together and
that's how it shall end.
- Go,
and live, as if it never began.
(footsteps crunching)
Go Thomas!
(footsteps crunching)
(ominous music continues)
(footsteps crunching)
I'm pleased you, came to my rescue.
- I had to make sure you were indeed dead.
- You didn't wanna, be
looking at your shadows
for the rest of your life.
(gunshots booming)
- Harpe, we gotta get out of here.
(gunshot booming)
- I think they just killed your boy.
- They'll find you too.
(footsteps crunching)
- Not, before I kill you.
- Our time has come.
(gunshot bangs)
(crickets chirping)
(water splashing)
- About another day to Nachez.
Hid me some fresh clothes, under the hill
before we turn 'em in.
- That stuff help keep the rot away?
- Them bounty hunters use
it, collect their reward,
been known to keep
slaughtered meat putrefied
for a week or more.
Otherwise you could pass off
anyone's head as an outlaws
- Tis true, hell couple of days of rot
you could even say it was your own head.
- I reckon,
would be nice if they thought I was dead.
- Mm, mm, yep it's just too
bad we don't have another,
we could collect on both.
- Too bad.
(ominous music)
I'm John Setton,
to whom do I inquire about a bounty?
- Bounty?
- What outlaw did you kill?
- Samuel Mason!
- But we received word he
escaped the Spanish envoy.
- And I found him,
well what was left of him after the fight.
He was a formidable foe certainly,
but I did him in.
I was able to snuff out the life
of one of his confederates.
Wiley Harpe!
I do not know much about this bandit,
but I do know that he goes
by the name of Little Harpe
and he's as much a scoundrel
as his older brother.
- That man is Little Harpe!
I knew him years ago
when I was in Danville.
- She's right, that is a Little Harpe.
- My name is John Setton.
- He has a mark under his left breast,
a scar given to him by Captain Ballenger!
- [Little Harpe] Of course
I was tried and found guilty
of multiple crimes.
They sentenced me to hang
by the neck until dead.
(gasping and grunting)
Some of the towns folk cut me
down and decapitated my body.
My head was placed on a pike,
a warning to others less
they follow the ways
of these outlaw men.
(ominous music)
The rest of my body was buried
and then exhumed for some
did not want it near town.
(ominous music continues)
I was finally laid along
one of the many roads
where my kind and I made our way.
And that is where I still am today.
(lively folk music)