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A headstrong Army officer disregards Cheyenne's advice and plows ahead into enemy territory, leading to a senseless sacrifice.


Episode Notes

  • This episode has an alternate title, Death Trap.[1]

Real World References

  • The commanding officer in the first act mentions the Custer Massacre, which places this episode after 1876.

Continuity Nitpicks and Errors

  • The foot of the naked corpse found at the burnt house moves slightly.

Plot

Cheyenne Bodie arrives at a wilderness fort after completing his current Army enlistment. Major Prewitt asks him to stay on as the scout for a supply train commanded by Captain Duquesne, a new officer from New Jersey. Doubting Bodie's reports about the strength of the Shoshone, the captain requests a different scout for the mission but Prewitt denies him.

On that happy note, Cheyenne steps outside to find that he's been robbed. Young trooper Jerry Dailey was caught by Sergeant O'Bannion taking a Shoshone souvenir from Cheyenne's saddlebag. The tall scout refuses to press charges, further alienating Captain Duquesne. The sergeant gets his revenge by assigning the troublesome Daily to ride with Cheyenne at point.

Once the supply train has hit the trail, Cheyenne and Dailey come across a homestead burnt out by the Shoshone. They find a man's naked, tortured body and Dailey reacts badly to the violent sight. Cheyenne advises Duquesne to head south to avoid a Shoshone attack, but the captain rejects his scout's assessment.

Bodie is proven right immediately when the indians attack and inflict severe casualties, including wounding the captain. Terrified, Dailey runs and hides in a wagon just as O'Bannion is mortally wounded. After the attack is repulsed, Duquesne has Dailey arrested and condemned for cowardice.

Ignoring his shoulder wound, the captain tries to find a route of escape and decides to flee to a nearby abandoned fort. Cheyenne strongly advises against the move saying the fort is a dead end with no water and no back door. Duquesne again ignores Cheyenne's advice and orders the troops to head there.

At the abandoned fort, the soldiers find widow Jen Claypool and her daughter Sarah hiding from the Shoshone. The women care for the wounded, including the headstrong captain who has fainted from his unattended injury. When he wakes, the captain faces the unhappy reality that his command is surrounded and trapped. There is the possibility of escaping through the mountains by abandoning the wagons, but Duquesne won't leave the supplies behind. Lieutenant Patterson suggests sending out a lone rider to get help. The captain rejects the idea as suicide and orders that he be left alone to think.

In the morning Duquesne gives the order to move out. When Cheyenne questions the order, the captain reveals that in the night he made a deal with the condemned Dailey. He sent the young man out to get help with a message that the unit was going to try to escape through the mountains. What Duquesne told Dailey was a lie; he expected him to be caught and tortured. The Shoshone would then act on the false information, head toward the mountain pass to intercept them and leave the main trail unguarded.

Down the trail, Cheyenne finds what's left of Dailey. With his dying breath, the young man proudly tells Bodie that he didn't give up Duquesne's plan. Angered at the captain's ruthlessness, Cheyenne warns the others that they're still in danger because the plan to sacrifice Daily backfired. The Shoshone attack as the weakened Duquesne faints from his wound. Patterson orders to abandon the wagons and make a run for it.

Duquesne wakes when the hospital wagon hits a log, sees the Shoshone following them and jumps from the wagon. He grasps a saber from a fallen soldier and challenges the approaching indians. Chief Gray Wolf dismounts and the two men fight. Cheyenne rides up and watches as the weak Duquesne flings his saber into the chief's chest. The Shoshone help their wounded chief to his horse as Cheyenne and other troopers help the captain into the hospital wagon. Duquesne's poor judgment cost the life of one of his men, and almost led to complete disaster.

Quotes

"I sure hope the captain's got a fair-sized windpipe."
"Windpipe?"
"The way you're crammin' me down his throat."

- Cheyenne tells Major Prewitt of his uncertainty of being forced into the command of Captain Duquesne.

Reference

  1. According to the book "Television Series and Specials Scripts, 1946-1992: A Catalog of the American Radio Archives Collection”