Major Dundee (1965) Script

In the territory of New Mexico, toward the end of the Civil War... an Indian, Sierra Charriba, and his 47 Apache warriors... raided, sacked, and looted an area almost three times the size of Texas.

On October 31, 1864... an entire company of the 5th United States Cavalry... sent out from Fort Benlin to destroy him... was ambushed and massacred at the Rostes ranch.

We are indebted to Timothy Ryan, bugler, 5th United States Cavalry... the company's sole survivor, for his diary... the only existing record of this tragedy, and the campaign that followed.

Let go of me! I want my mom!

Pony soldier, I am Sierra Charriba.

Who you send against me now?

Lieutenant! Sir?

Take the first, second and third squads and cover the ridge sides.

Yes, sir. lf I signal you to come, you come.

If I signal you to charge, you charge.

If I signal you to run, you follow me and run.

Otherwise hold your position. Yes, sir.

First squad to the right. Mr. Potts.

Second squad to the left.


I'm a long way from Gettysburg. Any suggestions?

Let's go have a look, slow and easy.

To the left. To the right.

November 1.

This morning I returned with the relief column to the scene of the massacre.

The Major had expressed little hope... that any of the civilians or troopers would be alive.

But Samuel Potts, the Major's scout... knew Apaches well and said they never kill boy children.

They take them as captives and raise them as warriors.

He felt the three Rostes boys may still be alive.

But he had no such hope for their sister, Beth.

He was right.

I looked down at her and thought with hatred of Riago... our Apache scout, who led us to this place.

His body was never found... and I will always wonder if he escaped the massacre or was part of it.

Hold your positions!

That scarf belonged to Lt. Brannin. That's for you, Major.

I hope he was dead when they did that to him.

If he was dead they wouldn't have bothered.

Go cut him down, Sergeant. Brannin was a soldier, Amos.

Goes with the pretty girls and the pension.

How much chance have I of getting those children back?

One chance in a thousand, I'd say... if they gave you a division and a year to do it, at least.

Much chance of that, is there?

I'll take five days to get men, horses, ordnance.

On the fifth day I want you back at Fort Benlin to tell me where Charriba is.

I'll get the children and I'll get him.

Sam. Yeah?

Don't get yourself killed. That would inconvenience me.


With so many troopers away... five Confederate prisoners broke out of Fort Benlin and escaped.

We trapped them on our way back.

Evening, Ben.

Evening, Amos.

Should have tried it before I took command.

Command of what, the burial detail?

Move them out, Lieutenant. Move them out!

Troops, right! Pair of twos, right!

I brought back your wandering boys, Captain.

Now you tell me how they got loose.

They clubbed two guards and went over the wall.

I'd like to point out, Amos, at the time of the escape...

131 men of this command were half a day's march from here... either digging graves or rotting in the sun, waiting to be buried.

I want every prisoner that can walk on this parade ground in 10 minutes.

Including those in irons.

Bugler, sound assembly.

They're gonna give us a party, Captain.

It sure looks like it.

You thieves, renegades, deserters... you gentlemen of the South. I want some volunteers.

I want volunteers to fight the Apache Sierra Charriba.

I need horse soldiers. Men who can ride, men who can shoot.

In return I promise you nothing.

Saddle sores, short rations, maybe a bullet in your belly.

And free air to breathe, a fair share of tobacco, quarter pay.

My good will.

Best offices for pardons and paroles when we get back.

I don't know what that might be worth to you.

But I do know if any man signs on with me and then attempts to desert...

I will shoot him out of hand.

From you I'll accept one man with some experience of command... as an acting lieutenant.

Captain Tyreen... does the prospect of serving under your country's flag once again... seem more attractive than dragging its chains in this prison?

It is not my country, Major Dundee.

I damn its flag and I damn you... and I would rather hang than serve.

Corporal Veitch just died, sir.

And hang you will!

You and your four good friends.

You're going to stand trial on a charge of murder.

That guard you clubbed just died.

You've been found guilty of the charges and specifications here mentioned.

It is the sentence of this court that on November 6... at 6:00 a.m. you shall be hanged by the neck until dead.

Remove the prisoners, with the exception of Benjamin Tyreen.

Right face, forward march.

These proceedings are closed.

Sit down.

Five years.

You're still blaming me instead of yourself, huh?

I'll say one thing, Ben, you sure haven't mellowed any.

When are you going to learn you made all your own troubles?

Who had me cashiered out of the regiment?

I cast one vote out of five.

Two of those votes were for my acquittal.

But not you. Not my own captain.

Not my own friend.

The conscience of the court was not my concern.

What did concern you, Amos?

That the man I killed was a Yankee? He was your brother officer.

It was a duel of honour.

You're Southern born, you knew what that meant.

If he had killed me, and he had a chance... would you have convicted him? I would.

You're a liar.

You voted to please the generals in Washington.

You voted a promotion for Amos Charles Dundee.

You're a traitor to your country, Ben. You gonna blame me for that, too?


Yes, sir.

I should have known better than to try to talk to you.

You'll try again, Major.

The Major had asked for thieves, renegades and deserters... and that's what he got. After four hours he had accepted only three.

Ryan, what are you doing here?

I'm volunteering, too, sir. I've earned it, sir.

You'll need a bugler, sir.

Stand over there. Yes, sir.

Benjamin Priam, sir.

What do you do?

What did you say?

Speak up, I can't hear you. I'm a horse thief!

You a good horse thief?

The best there is, sir.

Sign your name or make your mark.

I need horses and mules, Mr. Priam.

Here's the amount you'll have to spend... and here is your safe-conduct.

Do you need an escort? No, sir.

He'll be back, sir.

Yes, sir. I will, sir.

Corporal. Yes, sir.

Get Lt. Andreen. On duty, Major.

Lt. Fredericks. Hospital.

Lewison. Officer of the day.

Sgt. Cable? Patrol.

Get me Lt. Graham. Yes, sir.

Five hours, five men. You need a regiment.

Charriba can't be taken by a pick-up company of garrison troopers.

You should know that by now.

What are you trying to say, Frank?

Come on, speak up. Spit it out!

I'm not trying to say that the massacre was your fault.

I'm saying that you should recognise that your transfer to this post... was a disciplinary action, pure and simple.

And if you try to fight your own war again as you did at Gettysburg, they'll break you.

They won't break me, not if I get Charriba and those kids.

Has it occurred to you, Major... that the Apache will undoubtedly enter Mexico for the winter?

Mexico presently contains an army of 30,000 French soldiers.

Yes, it's occurred to me.

Frank, I am a professional soldier, I'm not a prison keeper.

Now this is something that's gotta be done and I'm gonna do it... now!

Are you pursuing the Apache, Major, or a promotion?

Whatever my reasons are, Frank... you'd better get down on your knees and pray to God I don't take you with me.

I suppose you intend to strip this garrison.

I will take just 10 men from the command. Volunteers.

The bulk of my force will be made up of prisoners.

You'd be well advised not to accept Confederate prisoners... even if they're forthcoming.

In my absence, you'll assume command of the garrison.

Discharge all duties incumbent upon that command.

I have, as you can see... appended to your orders a statement over my signature...

to the effect that I assume total and complete responsibility... for all such actions.

Here. Does that cover it?

No, sir.

I consider it my responsibility to notify General Carlton... of what I believe to be an irresponsible and dangerous course of action.

Do your worst. You could be shot for this, Amos.

My executioners will have to stand in line.

That's all, Captain.

Corporal Tinney!


Where in hell is Lt. Graham?

Carry on.

The Major's waiting to see you, sir. Thank you, Corporal.

Sir! Lieutenant Graham.

They're not much, are they? No, sir, they don't seem to be.


Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.

Coffee? Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.

Why did they put you in the cavalry, Lieutenant?

Sir? Why did they assign you to the cavalry?

You're ordnance, aren't you?

No, sir. Artillery.

Artillery? Yes, sir.

As Napoleon said, "Only thunderbolts can be preferred to cannon."

Napoleon? Yes, sir!

You'll do, Lieutenant. You'll have to.

I need rifles and ammunition.

It's all listed there in that inventory: number of rounds, types of ordnance.

You go get them for me.


Yes, sir!


Sir? Where are you going?

I said, "Where are you going?"

To obtain... these weapons?

And just how and where do you intend to accomplish that?

It has come to my attention that a supply train from the Ordnance Depot... at Denver, en route to the 2nd California Column... now garrisoned in Santa Fe... should be encamped tomorrow morning at the Sand River crossing... thirty miles away.

Now, if you have the opportunity, you might just take C Troop.

See if you can be of any assistance.

Yes, sir.

November 4.

Lt. Graham had no official orders, but this didn't stop him.

He was very persuasive, with Sgt. Gomez and C Troop standing by.

He took what the Major needed.

We returned with 48 new Henry rifles, 5,000 rounds of ammunition... and a baby howitzer for the lieutenant to play with.

I see you transferred back to the artillery, Lieutenant.

Yes, sir.

Over a hundred civilian prisoners volunteered... and from them the Major took six, and they were doubtful at best.

While we waited for horses, the rebel prisoners that we needed... watched the gallows being built.

The gallows on which the Major will hang Sgt. Chillum, the Hadley brothers...

Jimmy Lee, and their captain.


You figure he's bluffing? Sure, he's bluffing.

He needs us much more than we need him.

Captain, that ain't no dance floor they're building for us.

We just want you to know, sir, that whatever you figure on... we're all with you.

Without Confederate volunteers, the Major was forced to accept cowboys... drifters and drunks.

You wanted Injun-fighting, mule-packing, whiskey-drinking volunteers, sir.

Well, by God, you've got one.

What am I going to do with you?

He's the biggest drunk, but the best packer in the territory, sir.

What's your name? Wiley.

Wiley, make your mark.

Whiskey? All you can drink.

When you've earned it.

Sergeant, throw him in a cell and dry him out.

Come on, Wiley. I never seen anything like it.

How many is that, Ryan? Twelve, sir.

Name? Dalhstrom.

Any man with a just cause should travel with the word of God.

With all due respect, God has nothing to do with it.

I intend to smite the wicked, not save the heathen.

Seventeen years ago, I married John and Mary Rostes.

Who that destroyeth my flock, I will so destroy.


November 5.

The Confederate prisoners are angry and uneasy, waiting for tomorrow... the day the rebel captain and his four companions are to hang.

We are fearful of the consequences.

All of us know the Major needs the Captain and his men... but the Major is stubborn.

I think he will hang them if they don't volunteer.

I would like to volunteer, sir. Me and my six coloureds.

I haven't asked for volunteers from the command.

We're doing the asking, sir. Why?

To fight, sir.

We've been standing guard and cleaning stables for nearly two years.

Tomorrow morning you ask the officer of the day to see me.

You and your six coloureds.

Thank you, sir.

The rebel captain Ben Tyreen's compliments, sir.

He will see you now.

He will?

Yes, sir.

And he further states that he will volunteer himself and his men as needed... for double rations for all prisoners plus Gen. Carlton's written guarantee... that all Southern soldiers who serve with you, sir... will be automatically granted full pardon.

Now, sir, if I may be so bold as to suggest...


Open it up. Yes, sir.

Major, it has come to my attention...

You kill one of my soldiers and then have the gall to dictate terms to me?

You're a damn traitor, Ben.

You were a rebel before you ever saw the South.

And now you're a murderer.

Tomorrow morning, I am going to hang you and be done with you.



How many men do you need?

Twenty. Good ones.

Until the Apache is taken or destroyed, only that.


Then you have my word, Major. We will serve.

But after that we're going home.

If it's too rich for you... hang us now and be done with it.

I just might hang you and that Injun to the same tree, Ben.

You'll play hell getting it done, Amos.

This man will hold lieutenant's rank under myself and Lt. Graham.

Will you serve?

Until the Apache is taken or destroyed, sir.


Lieutenant Graham, get away from that damn bell!

Priam, they're a bunch of Roman-nosed, broken-gutted, spavined... sore-footed, swaybacked dogs. You call yourself a horse thief?

Samuel Potts!

Those Injuns you got with you look kind of shy, Samuel.

They ain't sure they're welcome, Amos. Get on up here. I'll buy you a drink.


Today Mr. Potts got back. With him was Riago.

If Lt. Brannin were alive he would hang the Apache... and I would help.

Yeah, but where in Mexico?

The children?

Well, they're skinny, but doing better than you'd expect.

Making their own arrows now.

That's Riago who rode in with you, isn't it?

They all look alike to you, Amos?

I asked you a question, Sam.

That's Riago.

Where'd you find him?

Didn't. He found me.

He said after the massacre he hit for the bush, stayed on their trail... figured I'd be along sooner or later.

I believe him, Amos.

Who's the other one?

He's got a personal score to settle.

Seems old Charriba wouldn't take him along with him on this last raid.

Said he couldn't be trusted.

Now he's got his mind set on killing the old man.

Do you expect me to believe these Apaches will turn against their own families?

Track down their own people?

Why not? Everyone else seems to be doing it.

Lt. Brannin didn't trust Riago. Right, Ryan?

Yes, sir.

I'm afraid I go along with that, Sam.

Well, you go along with Lt. Brannin then.

Well, you go along without me.

Sam Potts.

Looks like the Union jackets you gave us didn't quite fit, Major.

So I see.

The last day was spent getting acquainted with our comrades-in-arms.

Learning how to handle the pack animals with sureness and dispatch.

And learning the character of our officers.

Troop, fall in!

Foot soldiers, I want a company of twos on my right.

Cavalry, fall in 20 paces in front of me.

I want a column of twos on my right! Line up here.

Get that mule out of there!

Fall them in with the artillery, 20 paces in front of me!

Column of twos on my right!

Fall in!

If I tell you one more time, you're court-martialed!

Why don't you find a horse and mount up, Lieutenant Graham?

You don't seem to be doing very well on foot.

Mount up!

November 7, and we were ready, all who volunteered.

Civilians, criminals, Southerners, and Negroes.

Gentlemen, we've given the Major our parole... and we will serve him until I say we will not.

And until that time... he will be your commanding officer and will be treated as such.

And any sign of disrespect to him will be taken as a personal insult by me.

Don't worry none, Uncle Ben, when the time comes... we'll turpentine that caulky, chicken-picking Yankee.

I am not your uncle, you redneck peckerwood.

And one more word out of you and you'll end this campaign in chains.


Good luck, Frank. Give my regards to the General.

I mean for you to have that pleasure within the week, Amos.

If you don't, good luck.

I have but three orders of march:

If I signal you to come, you come. If I signal you to charge, you charge.

And if I signal you to run, you follow me and run like hell.

Move them out, Lieutenant.

Twos right! Twos right!

Left turn! Left turn!

Whistle me a tune, son. Yes, sir.

November 18. We are now in Texas approaching Mexico.

And the Major does not mean to be surprised... by Confederate patrols out of Fort Davis.

No fires tonight, Sergeant. Yes, sir.

Trooper Hadley, you are not part of my gun crew.

Cold coffee again.

It's 50 miles to the border, and 86 to Fort Davis.

I wonder if we'll make it.

Make what, Sergeant Chillum?

Make it back to where we come from, Captain.

We'll make it. It's just a question of time.

It was just after dawn and we were starting for the Rio Grande when Riago returned.

I still don't trust him.

Twos right! Major.

Says he got close enough to smell the stink of many white men.

I wager they're waiting for us at the river, Amos.

We'd better walk on water. Let's find out what we're made of.


Full gallop, son. We'll let those rebels know there's a Yankee army come to call.

Troop, halt!

Mr. Potts. Sergeant Gomez. First 12 men across as skirmishers.

Troop right, roll! Lieutenant Graham, move them out!

Column of twos.

Confederate cavalry, Lieutenant.

We don't have much time.

Your word's worth about as much as your cause.

Then why don't you release him from it? Ben, you gave it, you break it.

And be damned to you.

What do you want from us anyway? I've got what I want, Sergeant.

I've got his word.

Sergeant Chillum. Sir.

Move them out. Which way, Captain?

To Mexico, you bloody idiot!

November 19. We are in Mexico...

November 19. We are in Mexico... and this day's events have made it clear to everyone... that the Major's present war is not with the South, but with the Apache.

Lunge! That's very good, Aesop.

Thank you, sir.

But as Napoleon said, only thunderbolts can be preferred to cannon.

Good night. Good night, sir.

Order arms.

Thank you, Priam.

Boy, I'm speaking to you!

You're forgetting your manners, nigger.

Come on over here and pull off my boots.

Lieutenant Graham.

Check the pickets.

Did you hear me, boy?

Do it, boy, now.

Let me, son.

Let go off my leg!

Preacher, you sure kick up a lot of dust with your sermon.

Don't forget your footgear, sonny.

You started it, now finish it. No, we're gonna finish it.

By doggies, Preacher, now we're gonna get in line for you.

I'm gonna cut me a piece of you first. You southern trash sit down!

Was you talking to me, Sergeant?

Now maybe you don't know it, but you're fixing to get tried.

You and all the rest of your bluebellies.


Mr. Aesop, we would like to compliment you and your men... on the way you handled the river crossing this afternoon.

Thank you, sir.

That gesture was necessary. I'm sorry it was so painful for you.

Mr. Aesop is a fine soldier. It won't happen again.

What happened is what it's all about, Ben.

If it was as simple as that, Amos.

We can take care of our own.

If you can, you waited too long to do it.

All you people, all the way down the line.

"You people"?

I'm not going to thank you for keeping your word this afternoon at the river.

You were obliged to.

But it wasn't easy, and I respect you for it.

I don't need respect from a man who took his kin to fight against their own brothers.

I took soldiers to fight for their country.

You betrayed it. What country have I to betray?

I'm fighting for the only country I have left, and I kill men in a hopeless war for it.

But not men who were my neighbours and my friends.


The best friend you ever had was the man who got you into West Point.

He was killed with the 2nd Michigan in Chickamauga last winter.

Did you know that? I knew that, Amos.

You're a would-be cavalier, an Irish potato farmer with a plumed hat... fighting for a white-columned plantation house... you never had and never will.

How exactly do you see yourself, Major Dundee?

Have you ever stopped to think why they made you a jailer instead of a soldier?

December 22, 1864. We are five weeks into Mexico... and have lost all contact with the Apache.

Even the scout, Samuel Potts, admits this, and I'm glad.

I wish to avenge the massacre, but I remember it too well, and I'm afraid.

How can we catch the wind or destroy an enemy we never see?

It is Christmas Eve, the year of our Lord, 1864... and there is a deep and reverent sense of peace and tranquillity in the camp tonight.

Mr. Potts and Riago, the Apache... indulge in a high-spirited, brotherly bout of wrestling.

At stake is Mr. Potts' gold railroad watch... and the Apache's shotgun with the silver inlaid stock.

It is a friendly contest.

Come on, Injun, get up.

There he is over there, go get him!

That one brought him. Get up!

I think he's going to take you, Samuel. You know why?

Because the artillery's betting on you.

Do you know Lt. Graham's bet $5 on you?

Artillery and a lieutenant, to boot.

Did you ever hear of an artilleryman winning a bet, or a girl... or a war when there was cavalry about?

Who bet against me? Me.

Just one, Major. He wants to talk. Bring him in.

He says he's a good Apache, and he's peaceful... and for nobody to shoot at him.

Is he a Chiricahua? He surely is.

Why would an old man like that be raiding with Charriba?

He says, why not? It's their land, all of it.

Now he'd like a little soft food as his teeth are no longer with us.

Why did he quit?

Charriba kicked him out.

He says he's too old, much too old to fight anymore.

Ask him why I should believe him.


He says Charriba's camp is across the river.

He'll lead us there. They'll be asleep.

Does he expect me to believe that?

Let him lead us into an ambush?

He says his heart is true, Major... and he brings proof.

What kind of proof, Mr. Potts?

The children.

He's brought the children.

Pretty good.

Go on, sing up.

Soup's on.

Here's one for you, shorty.

Come on, buck, get around here where you can eat.

Can I have seconds? Get in here.

Don't we get any? Watch out, don't spill it.

Don't look to me like them gut-eaters has been feeding them very good.

Did you ever see a fat Apache? I ain't yet.

This is good.

You're going back now that you've got what you came for, Major?

Everything points to that old man talking straight.

Potts is half convinced.

I'm more than half.

Did it ever occur to you that Charriba gave us what we wanted... because he intends to take it back again?

It's occurred to me.

I want two of your best men to help Sgt. Gomez take the children home.

We'll still outnumber you, Amos.

You surely will, Ben. Now go do as you're told.

Yes, sir.

But only until the Apache is taken or destroyed.

Sgt. Gomez headed back to safety with the three Rostes boys...

Sgt. Gomez headed back to safety with the three Rostes boys... while we followed the old Apache toward Sierra Charriba.

Lieutenant, take 12 men across as skirmishers.

First 12 men, follow me.

Sergeant Chillum, take them through. Yes, sir.

Get them back to the far side of the river!

Back to the river!

Try and regroup on the far bank! Hadley, run them out!

Keep moving, Lieutenant Graham, there's nobody left to shoot at out here.

Merry Christmas.

He was making a doll for his girl child. Riago!

How did they know?

They're Apache.

Just what in hell is he?

I'm a tame Apache.

A camp dog.

Christian Indian.

Charriba is Apache.

Sam, you take this camp dog and go find me Charriba.

That's what you pay us for, Amos.

Wiley, did you get hit? No, sir.

One of them damn mules kicked me.

Fourteen men killed, sir. Thirteen wounded.

Four critically.

70% of all stores lost, 20% ammunition... and 60% of livestock either killed or stolen.

Damn it to bloody Confederate hell! What?

Sorry. He's all right, Doctor.

He'll live forever and have a hundred children.

But if time and battle prove that you have a weakness... for being shot in that vicinity, I'd wear an iron board inside my pants.

You tell him go easy with that, Major, or I'll shoot you right between the eyes.

You patrolled this whole area with Grant in '47, didn't you?

Yes. The tequila was excellent.

How far would you say we are from the nearest food and shelter?

About a week's march. Maybe less.

There's a pretty village, and rather friendly.

If you're really serious about replenishing our supplies... there's a well-stocked garrison I could recommend just about here.

But we'd probably have to tangle with some French Lancers.

That's one thing I plan to avoid.

Major, we can't follow the Apache.

I'm not letting go of that Injun.

Boy! Sir!

Pass the word to the command we move out in the morning.

And bring me a bottle of that medicinal brandy.

There is no more brandy, sir, except at the bottom of the river.

Now this time, Lieutenant, try and hold still.

Prepare to move out in the morning.

We left a lot at the bottom of the river.

We ask thee, Lord, to take these soldiers who have fallen in thy service.


We got whipped, Major.

Burying your dead is not going to change it.

January 9, 1865.

Sgt. Gomez and the troopers returned today.

The Rostes boys are well and safe.

This made us feel better, but not for long.

He's not running anymore.

He's waiting.

Let's move. Mount up!

January 10.

Two more died last night.

I'm afraid all the wounded will perish unless we rest.

I wonder whether any of us will ever return.

The war of rebellion and Fort Benlin seem very far away.

The village is occupied.

The blockhouse, there are 10, 15 men.

Regulars, I think. I don't know.

Their garrison is about six hours away... and about 300 Lancers, Legionnaires, or maybe less.

We'll move on the village at sunup.

Dismount! Prepare to fight on foot!

Horses to the rear. Get those horses!

Point blank range. Fuse timing zero.


Locked, loaded and primed, and ready for firing.

Stand by. Standing by, sir.

Boy, whistle me a tune.

Will you show the colours, sir?

No, Lieutenant, we will not show the colours.

All right, Sam, make it short and to the point.

Hey, get out here!

Compliments, Major Amos Dundee, irregular United States Cavalry.

You have five minutes to surrender your arms and stores... or he's going to cut loose. He would not dare.

This is an act of aggression against a friendly power... an outrageous breach of international law. Sonny... the Major ain't no lawyer.

You've now got four minutes.

Sergeant, I want to talk to the mayor.

There seems to be no end to it. What did you say?

We've been attacked by Apaches, by local bandits... by freebooters from Texas, then liberated by the French... and now United States Cavalry.

Unfortunately, you came too late. We have nothing to give you.

No food, no guns, no women.

That is what you want, isn't it?

That's why you come here without flying your country's brave flag.

Are you speaking for these people? You're not Mexican, are you?

My husband was the doctor of this village.

But he was also the doctor for the Juaristas.

He died there, where they did.

I've paid for my place here.

Well, I'm sorry for that, ma'am, but we've come a long way.

I need fresh horses and food. My men are hungry.

They are no more hungry than this village.

They are willing to share everything they have got with you, Major... most particularly their hunger.

Would you like to see the children in our dispensary... whose sickness is starvation?

Lieutenant Graham, fire! Sir!

Sgt. Gomez, slaughter two mules, distribute the meat... and whatever stores you find in that blockhouse to the people of the village... and to this lady. Teresa. Teresa Maria Santiago.

Ma'am. Ryan! Yes, sir.


With beauty such as yours, this village is rich beyond comparison.

Lieutenant Tyreen!

God save the Queen.

We entered the village to take food and horses...

We entered the village to take food and horses... but instead gave away our own, and everyone was thankful.

Our wounds were tended by a German lady... who spoke English and was pretty, if somewhat old.

Hold it there, will you? Thank you, ma'am.

Also, a very lovely Mexican girl who was kindness itself, gentle and young.

Don't worry, son, it ain't near your heart.

To the victors belong the spoils.

Well, Ben, you look quite the gentleman.

After the war, Amos... the Tyreens of County Clair become the landed gentry of Virginia.

It's not over yet.

By midnight tonight I want every man in this command drunker than a fiddler's bitch.

At that point, our prisoners will escape and run for help.

But we will not discover this until sunup.

Tomorrow night, after following us all day... that French cavalry will camp and prepare to attack our disorganised rabble.

But before they make their move, we will steal them blind and be on our way.

You are either... a $70, red-wool, pure-quill military genius... or the biggest damn fool in Northern Mexico.

No question of it.

You haven't got the temperament to be a liberator, Amos.

I don't?

If I may suggest, sirs, the time has come to join the fiesta.

Sitting alone is bad for the soul.

Captain Tyreen. Does he shave?

Does it matter? Didn't to me.

She's not here.

Too bad.

There was something about that woman.

There sure, sure was.

Made me think of... satin.

Soft, white satin. Major.

Excuse me, Major.

A waltz.

I'd be delighted, sir.

Lieutenant Graham. Sir!

Why aren't you with the pickets? I've been relieved, sir.

Carry on.

Sir, in my opinion we need more guards at the blockhouse... or the French prisoners are going to escape.

Thank you, Lieutenant, for your opinion.

Now, I trust you will carry on.

No, sir. You see, I'm cutting in, sir.

What? Cutting in, sir.

Lieutenant Graham, have you been drinking?

Senorita. Thank you, Lieutenant.

A Mexican dance, perhaps?

I wanted to say goodbye, and thank you.

It was good to celebrate just being alive.

Are you planning to stay on here now? I don't know.

I met my husband when he was a medical student in Vienna.

My family disapproved violently.

So violently, I no longer have any ties there.

And I'm needed here.

There is no one else except for Linda, not for a hundred miles.

You will say goodbye to Lt. Tyreen for me?

I'd be delighted.

I liked the way he asked me to dance.

As if we were in a ballroom in Vienna.

It was a lovely little charade. The Lieutenant has style.

He must be a fanciful man.

He is corrupt. But I will save him.

Thank you for being kind.

All I feel is kindness.

Next time I'll be more fanciful.

Hadley! Wiley! Get them mules in here.

Mount up. Just fall in. Get in there.

Ryan is missing, sir. Graham went to look for him.

Who went to look for Graham? Gomez.

Sergeant Gomez, be gentle with the bugler boy.

He's ill.

Take your time, Trooper Ryan, take your time.

We're delighted you decided to join us.

Now if you'd only warned us, we could have sent Sgt. Gomez... to serve you breakfast in bed.

Ryan, put it in the saddle!

All accounted and...

All present and accounted for, sir.

I can see that, Lieutenant Graham. I can clearly see that.

Suppose you could manage to move them out now?

Twos left, right turn.

Last night the Major let the French prisoners escape.

He hoped they would go to their garrison for reinforcements.

They did.

This afternoon he sent Lt. Graham and some troopers out as a decoy.

The rest of us hung back, waiting.

Jefferson, that scarf is to decorate the cannon, not you.

Yes, sir. Wiley, secure those pack animals.

Sergeant Chillum, are the pickets out?

They're out. Not that they'll do any good.

If them Lancers has got a fieldpiece... they could move it in, lay in one round, and then finish us off... with them 10-foot frog stickers they're packing.

No, they'll camp.

Begging your pardon, Lieutenant, but who says so?

I do.

Don't they look pretty?

My boys can take that outfit, the walking ones anyway... with one hand tied behind our backs.

How's that, Aesop?

They're soft, O.W. They ain't never been south.

They're closing up.

They'll be less than five miles from Graham by full dark.

What if they don't stop?

What if they don't camp? They just keep on, smash hell out of the Lieutenant?

Mighty is the arm of the Lord.

January 15. It took the French three days to discover... all they were chasing was a one-armed scout and a renegade Apache.

By that time, Mr. Potts and Riago figured we were safe... and decided to lose them and find us.

We rested and healed our wounds.

Hey! I'm drowning!

Come on in. I already had my bath.

Hey, the water's fine.

First shave, Tim? Yep.

Maybe we should call you Ryan now. Yeah.

We are waiting for Mr. Potts, Sgt. Gomez... and the rebel captain to return from the scout.

We fear that the French have taken reprisals against the village.

I keep thinking about Linda and pray for her safety.

What happened? Just like watching a bird die.

And the woman? I don't know, Amos.

If they hanged her, they cut her down.

Them boys in the pretty hats make the Apache look like missionaries.

Never underestimate the value of a European education.

No sign of Charriba? Don't worry about that, Amos.

He wants to drag it out.

I think he figures on leaving stories about you that'll be told... around the campfires of his people for a thousand years.

We were healing, becoming a command again.

Hard and watchful, anxious for battle... when that which the Major hated most occurred.

Sir! A deserter.

O.W. Hadley has deserted, sir. Last night.

A horse is gone, food and ammunition supplies broken into.

Mr. Potts, you take Riago and pick up his trail.

I want that man back.

It ain't my job, Major.

I didn't sign on to go chasing after no homesick soldier boys.

It's mine.

All right, Sergeant, you find him.

Beg your pardon, sir... but what'll they do to Pvt. Hadley when they catch him?


Son, it'd be our good luck if he killed him.

But he won't and the Major will.

Oh, no, Mr. Potts... the Major will not.

In two days, Sgt. Gomez returned with O. W. Hadley.

Along the way he found the lady doctor with some children and Linda.

They had all fled the village.

The Major wasted no time trying O. W. Hadley for desertion.

Boys, by doggies, I want you to know what kind of company we've been keeping.

He just plain clean shot a hole in me.

And he would have let me bleed to death... if it hadn't been for that woman over there come along and bandaged up my leg.

Now, you know I ain't no deserter.

I just went into that village to court a little senorita and say hello to her folks.

I was fixing to come back. I was.

You all know I always stay close to my big brother.

Ain't that right, Arthur? That's right.

And you ain't gonna let them shoot your kin for no deserter, are you, Arthur?

You gonna do something about it, ain't you?

Sergeant, I don't want to look up at him.


You know me.

I've been over the hill before.

But I always come back, didn't I?

And you whipped me for it and I deserved it.

But you never killed me none.

Now you ain't gonna hand me over to no bluebelly... just because I had a hankering for a woman?

She's a sweet little thing, Captain.

She's pretty and polite and a lady. She surely is.

And that grub is for her kinfolks.

You remember her, Captain?

I was dancing with her and I introduced you to her. You remember her, don't you?

I remember.

Sergeant Chillum, would you say it was common knowledge in this camp that... that village had been burned, people scattered?

Well, I know that, Major, sir... but I just figured I'd sit there and wait till they come back.

Lieutenant. Yes, sir.

How much food and ammunition would you say was taken?

Enough for three men for a week, sir.

Look, Major, forget about the book.

The men of this command risked their lives for those supplies.

It may have slipped your mind, but he also risked his life.

Trooper... you're gonna be shot.


Major, hand him over to us. I'll deal with him.

I'm not going to let you kill him.

You used to be a soldier. Do you know what you're saying?

I'm saying if you kill that boy that's the beginning of it and not the end.

You're wearing out, Ben.

You were a rock once, now you're crumbling like old chalk.

Lieutenant, select a firing squad by lot.

Exclude the Confederates. Yes, sir.

I said we will serve in this command and we will serve!

But only until we have caught the Apache.

And then, Major...

I am going to kill you.

Are you, Ben?


Yes, Amos.

You gonna let them shoot me, Captain?

I'm obliged to, son.

You should have remembered you belong to the Major and not to me.

I'm sorry.

That's it, boys, by doggies... let's pitch in and get it over with.

Hell, Major, you're just doing what you got to do... but damn your soul for it, and God bless Robert E. Lee.

We are a command divided against itself, and I fear nothing will ever heal this breach.

Even some of our own people are bitter against the Major.

But he bears the burden of command and I do not feel fit to judge him.

I'm not one of your soldiers.

I could not bear to be with all those men, in the midst of all that hatred.

May I walk with you? Not afraid of the tiger?

Are you the tiger that prowls these mountains?

No, I'm not afraid, Major.

Oh, it's lovely here. I don't spoil it?


What happened today was terrible.

We all died a little with that boy.

But perhaps you, most of all.

Why are you with me?

I've seen too much dying...

and I wanted so desperately to feel alive...

for both of us to feel alive.

It troubles you a great deal, doesn't it, how the men feel about you?

I'm concerned with how they fight, not how they feel about me.

But why is this so important, this fighting?

There are other things.

Men can understand fighting. I guess maybe they need it sometimes.

The truth is, it's easy.

Forget about your problems, responsibilities... just let someone feed you, tell you what to do.

But whom do you answer to?

If you go to Durango you'll have to go into hiding, won't you?

It will be difficult, but not impossible.

Did you ever think about living in the United States?

I don't think about that, Major.

Get it out.

I can't. It's too deep. It's too close to the artery.

They have to take you to the doctor in Durango.

I'm staying with the command.

You get me some whiskey and bandages. Go on.

Sergeant, get a stretcher for the Major.

You're getting leave, Major.

And it's time you did.

In fact, you ought to give up soldiering altogether.

You were trapped at the river. Ambushed like a shavetail.

You caused a boy's death and you've split your own command.

And now how do you explain being outside your own picket lines?

What are you doing, Major, easing your conscience in the arms of a woman?

A woman, if I might say so, of rather doubtful virtue.

Just what the bloody hell are you doing here in the first place, Amos?

There are so many French soldiers in Durango.

We won't show the colours.

I can't speak the language. But you understand.


It is close, very close.

If you're thinking of cutting that leg off, Doctor, don't.

I am only concerned to stop the loss of blood.

Though much of it is alcohol.

You should be able to walk in seven days and ride in twelve.

I'll walk in two and ride in one more.

Mr. Potts, you and Sgt. Gomez can rejoin the command now.

I can get to the river camp by myself.

And I'm perfectly capable of following your trail from there.

Well, you'd better stay off those streets, Amos.

You make an unlikely-looking Mexican.

No, it's no use.

They're on to me, those Frenchman.

Just waiting for me to run, lead them back to the command.

I see our French friends are still waiting.

The tequila. Did you bring the tequila?

I asked for something to drink. This isn't enough to spit.


Sure, it gets better every day.

Be able to dance on it soon.

You don't believe me?

I'll show you. Come on.

Miss Covington, I believe I have the honour of this next quadrille.

You wait and see.

This army doesn't dance... doesn't march, doesn't fight.

Except on this last battlefield.

We're joining the Juaristas at Guaymas.

I came here to reassure myself that you were still alive.

I'm alive.

Yes, I see.

You should be careful.

The French police is already suspicious of this place.


If I ever do get out of here...

The war won't last forever.

It will for you, Major.

No, the war will not last forever.

"Awake! For Morning in the Bowl of Night

"Has cast the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight"

What are you doing here? I've come to rescue you.

We spent all night looking for you.

Why? So I can kill you myself.

Makes sense.

Well, there goes our little watchdog.

Shall we go, Major?

I drink, Ben. Did you know that?

That is the secret of my great success. I drink.

But I don't drink enough.

Why don't you drink, Lieutenant Tyreen?

Don't you ever have any doubts about who you are?

I've been three men already, Amos.

That's enough for one lifetime.

Irish immigrant... Cashiered American officer.

And Confederate renegade.

I don't like any of them. Well, now, isn't that a coincidence.

Get away from me.

I have orders, appropriate to your character.

I have to take you out the back door.

Finish it. The patrol. We leave now.

Leave me alone, all of you.


Sergeant Gomez.



Lt. Graham will be a general before he's 30.

Why, come on, get out of it!

Come on! Ben, for God's sakes, let me be.

Why not, Major?

You're not worth killing anyway.

Until the Apache is taken or destroyed.

January 30. We thought we had lost three troopers in Durango... but two returned this morning, and we became a command again.

Lieutenant Graham! Yes, sir.

When I left I gave you a specific order. You failed to carry it out.

No, sir. You gave me a command.

From then on I gave the orders.

You surely did. Have a cigar.

Move them out, Lieutenant.

We ran from the French as we followed the Apache... but time was running out.

The French patrols became thicker while we never got closer to Sierra Charriba.

How long ago? Four or five hours ago.

Charriba says you're to make your peace with your Christian God... as you are about to join him.

We must have hurt the old man at the river more than we figured.

At least now he's got to finish it.

So far, he's been circling west.

Some time in the next week or two he'll hit us again in a canyon... or the middle of a river at night, or dawn.

When are we going to stop fighting this Indian on his own terms?

Right now.

From this point on we tuck our tail between our legs and run for home... straight for the Rio Grande. You'd let Charriba escape?

Let's just say I'm giving him an equal opportunity, Lieutenant.

Major, but we have to make it look good.

First swing right, then head for the river. But we really got to move.

If we don't, he'll be waiting for us there, just like he is now.

How'll we know? We won't, until it happens.

On your horse, Lieutenant, move them out.

Go cut him down, Sam. You cut him down, Major.

I think he's earned it.

March 23. Today we learned that Riago had been a true soldier.

I bitterly regret my suspicions, as I'm sure does the Major.

April 18. We ran from the Apaches and the French... then circled and headed for the river and home.

The men were angry, wanting to continue our pursuit.

And then suddenly we all knew we weren't running away from anything.

We were running toward the end of our search.

River's less than a mile from here.

This is your last chance, Major.

It's as good a place as any to do what you got in mind.

Sergeant, if you put your pickets out far enough... the Apache might leave them alone.

But no matter what happens, don't fire unless you're attacked.

Just remember your orders and hope.

Good luck, Mr. Potts.

Who will you send against me now?


He looks so small now.

He was big enough, son.

Now, Major...

or across the river in Texas?

Right now is just fine, Ben.

You boys want a fight, I got one for you.

Get up here and look.

We had forgotten the French, but the French had not forgotten us.

Where can we ford the river into Texas?

It's the only shallow spot within a half day's march from here, Major.

Mount up the troop, Lieutenant, we're going back home.

Sergeant Gomez! Sir?

Mount the troops, we're moving out now! Yes, sir.

Congratulations, Major.

It appears that at last you have found yourself a real war.

Sergeant Gomez. Sir?

Dismount and deploy your men... prepare to receive a mounted cavalry charge from your front.

They won't charge, Major. Why should they?

By holding their positions, they hold us here for the others.

We have to move against them. When I'm ready.

Lieutenant Graham. Sir?

Make ready your artillery. Yes, sir.

It's ready, sir. Simon.

Break out the ammunition... we're about ready to engage the pride of Europe.

Yes, sir.

Well, Ben? I'll need five men mounted.

I'll hit their flank after you break their charge.

Bully. Bully.

Lieutenant, show the colours.

Standard-bearer! Sir?

Show the colours.

Sergeant Chillum. Sir!

Cut the fuse for 500 yards. Elevation 20...

Make that 28 degrees. Ready, sir!

Start the ball, Lieutenant.

A mile, maybe less.

They'll be coming now.

Sergeant Gomez. Sir?

The bugle will be your signal to fire. Yes, sir.

Company, charge!

Any of you damn gringos fire before the signal...

I swear to God I kill you.

On my signal, the horses. I repeat, only the horses.

Mount your men.

Take up a skirmish line at the foot of the bluff.

Here comes the second wave, Ben. We're ready when you are.

Rally around me!

Major, I shall see you in Texas.

You're damn right you will. Bugler!


All present and accounted for, sir.

Your orders, sir.

Move them out, Lieutenant, column of twos.

Column of twos.

Trooper Ryan! Sir.

Play us a tune, son. Yes, sir.

Forward, ho!

April 19, 1865.

After a brief but costly battle with French irregulars... we crossed the Rio Grande and re-entered the United States.