Cheyenne is the only surviving witness of the Custer massacre and powerful men want to silence his testimony.
In disguise, Cheyenne tries to convince Sitting Bull to leave the Little Bighorn.
Marcus Reno's inquiry is interrupted by a tall, handsome civilian scout.
Major Reno explains the course of battle at the Little Bighorn.
Lt. Gen. Sheradon listens to Cheyenne's account of the battle.
- Battle scenes in this episode were lifted from the film They Died with Their Boots On starring Errol Flynn released in 1941.
- This episode and its first part were edited together and released in European theaters in 1964 as a stand-alone feature film.
- Bonanza star Lorne Greene guest stars.
Real World References
- The real Marcus Reno’s Board of Inquiry occurred in 1879 in Chicago, Illinois. To map the fictional events onto the real ones, that means Cheyenne would have spent at least two years on the run from the U.S. Army as a deserter from the time of Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 until he returned for Reno’s trial in 1879.
- Cheyenne's indian alias Touch the Sky could be an homage to a real indian leader named Touch the Clouds, a Sioux chief and contemporary of Crazy Horse who was known for being exceptionally tall, strong and adept at diplomacy.
Continuity Nitpicks and Errors
- During his court testimony, Cheyenne describes leaving Fort Abraham Lincoln but the accompanying scene shows him leaving Fort Sumner, a location from the season three episode Renegades.
Cheyenne Bodie is in hiding after being charged with desertion for his disappearance the night before the Custer Massacre. Into his wilderness camp ride California Joe and Captain Fred Benteen. The tall scout fears that Benteen will arrest him, but Fred is searching for Cheyenne for a different reason than a bounty. He and Irene Travers believe Cheyenne's testimony will exonerate Major Marcus Reno of the charge of cowardice at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.Cheyenne despises the indian-hating Reno and doesn't want to help him. Besides, presenting himself in court will lead to his immediate arrest for desertion. He needs Indian Agent Brady to prove that he didn't desert. Benteen tells him that Brady died from a stroke weeks ago. Hearing this, Bodie flat out refuses to help since the one man who could clear him is dead. Benteen and Irene ride off, but Cheyenne is obviously moved by her disappointment.
Back in civilization, Reno explains to the military tribunal that he couldn't reinforce Lt. Col. George Custer because his soldiers were overwhelmed by hostiles numbering in the thousands. Military prosecutor Col. Jonathan Bell brings forward a scout named Moccasin Charlie who contradicts Reno, saying that there were less than 1,000 Indian warriors in the battle. The doors to the courtroom burst open and Cheyenne enters, loudly disputing that statement. Bell objects to Bodie's testimony due to his status as a deserter. Cheyenne demands to be allowed to testify and accuses the army of making Reno into a scapegoat. Presiding Gen. Philip Sheridan allows it. Cheyenne takes the stand and tells a story both incredible and earthshaking.
Before the battle, Cheyenne met with Indian Agent Brady and the pair hatched a plan to avert an all-out war. Under Brady's orders, Bodie disguised himself as a Cheyenne chief named Touch the Sky and went into the camp of the hostiles to meet with leaders Crazy Horse, Dull Knife and Sitting Bull. He offered the men amnesty if they agreed to take their people to a reservation and avoid battle with the army.
Unknown to Bodie, another visitor came to the camp that night, an army indian scout named Wasna. He offered to betray Custer in exchange for marriage to Dull Knife's daughter Singing Waters. The chiefs accepted Wasna's betrayal offer over Brady's amnesty, had Touch the Sky tied up and planned for an attack. The next day, Cheyenne looked down from a bluff as Custer led his troops into the trap surrounded by thousands of indian warriors. When the battle was over, Dull Knife freed the still-disguised Cheyenne to return to the reservation and tell of their great victory over Custer.Bell declares Cheyenne's testimony a complete fiction. The tall scout has no evidence. The only man who can corroborate his story is dead, and Cheyenne never actually saw the traitor Wasna so he can't even describe what the man looked like. Bell demands the tribunal ignore the testimony and find that Reno should face a court martial.
After deliberating with his officers, Sheridan rules that he believes Cheyenne's story for multiple reasons: Cheyenne knew of details only an eyewitness to the massacre would know; Brady told Sheridan parts of his plan for trying to move the hostile Sioux before the massacre; and Cheyenne was no friend of Reno but was willing to endanger his own life to see that justice was done. The tribunal clears both Reno's name and Cheyenne of desertion.
Cheyenne meets with Irene and Reno just before leaving. Before he leaves to search for the traitor Wasna, he warns Reno that his view of the West will lead to his undoing. As Cheyenne rides out of the fort, Moccasin Charlie sees him and hides his wife from the tall scout's view. She is none other than Singing Waters and she calls her husband by his real name...Wasna.
"It was a valiant stand, every man including Custer a hero, but it was a useless massacre."
- - Cheyenne describes the Battle of the Little Bighorn
"I wouldn't believe this man if he swore on a stack of Bibles."
- - Col. Bell doesn't think much of Cheyenne's testimony.
"As a man I hate everything you stand for."
- - Cheyenne makes clear his feelings for Major Marcus Reno, the man for whom he's risking his life and reputation.
"He came because he placed a higher priority on truth and on justice than he did on his own life."
- - Gen. Sheridan explains why he believes Cheyenne's testimony.