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Cheyenne is court-martialed for cowardice as part of a spying plot to find who is keeping the Army from getting desperately-needed horses.


Episode Notes

  • Cinema on the small screen: The plot, situations, dialogue and some footage featured in this episode are lifted from the 1952 movie Springfield Rifle, starring Gary Cooper.
  • This episode is retold in comic book form in Cheyenne Comic Number 4.

Errors and Continuity Nitpicks

  • The hands that unload Cheyenne's gun when he fakes being out of bullets while chasing Wilson are obviously not Clint Walkers. The sleeves are buttoned at the wrist, while Walker's sleeve's are rolled up mid-forearm, as usual.

Real World References

  • This episode is set in either 1876 or 1877 since references in dialog mention both the Custer Massacre (1876) and Crazy Horse alive (died 1877). See Episode Chronology.

Plot

Horses...the Army needs them desperately. Since the Custer massacre, horses are in short supply and the cavalry needs mounts in order to defend against a Sioux uprising. But every time an Army troop tries to bring another herd into the area, raiders attack and steal the horses away.

Wilsonsandsharp-testofcourage

The Wilsons recall better days.

Fort commander Colonel Ted Wilson has hired Cheyenne Bodie, the best scout in the territory to lead the next mission to bring in a herd. During the trip, Cheyenne sights raiders headed their way and refuses to follow orders from Captain Tenson to keep going. On their return, Tenson and Lt. Poole have Cheyenne courtmartialed for disobedience and cowardice. Despite Wilson's intervention, Cheyenne is dishonorably discharged from the Army and kicked out of the fort.

Wilson can't worry about Cheyenne now, he has problems at home. His wife is unhappy living on the frontier and wants to rejoin high society in Washington, D.C. She also has her eyes all over the younger officers in his command. The visiting Major Sharp tells Wilson that a transfer isn't likely, despite his exemplary record.

Jailbreak-testofcourage-

Cheyenne breaks out of jail.

Unemployed and aimless, Cheyenne wanders up an alley stairway and meets Major Sharp and Lt. Poole in a back room. The trio are working together in a counterintelligence cell to determine if the raiders have a mole in the Army. Cheyenne's court martial was intended to publicly shame him and make him a potential recruit of the raiders.

When he learns that one of the raiders has been captured, Cheyenne picks a fight with Tenson, gets arrested and placed in a cell with the raider. With Poole's help, he makes a jail break and brings the raider along. The man leads Cheyenne to the raider camp where he learns that the leader of the raiders is a horse trader named McCool. Cheyenne is given a choice between joining the raiders or a bullet between the eyes from Grannick, McCool's second-in-command. He picks the former and is shown the entire operation. McCool has a stash of horses in the mountains that he plans on selling to Crazy Horse.

Cheyenne joins McCool's next trip into town and tries to spot his Army spy. Somehow, McCool makes contact right under Bodie's nose. When he tells Sharp, the major orders that McCool be "removed" and Cheyenne take his place as leader of the raiders. During the next raid, Poole shoots McCool dead and Cheyenne pretends to stab the lieutenant in retaliation. With McCool gone, Cheyenne and Grannick scout out the town to see if they're approached by the dead rancher's Army contact. An anonymous note left in Cheyenne's saddle tells them to meet at McCool's ranch after dark.

Cheyenne-spymeeting-testofcourage

The counterintelligence cell meets to plan their next move.

That night, who should ride up to meet them but Colonel Wilson! He's mad at the Army for burying him and Alice at a frontier post. This scheme is his revenge. He shows Cheyenne the system he used with McCool to code the horse deliveries using a map, coordinates and the dollar amounts he paid.

That night, Cheyenne meets with the cell to let them know that Wilson is the traitor. Poole is also headed that way when Alice Wilson stops him. The two of them have been taking rides together and Alice thanks Poole for his kindness with a passionate kiss. Embarrassed, he rushes off and Alice goes back inside, but Wilson was watching them from the bushes. He follows Poole through town and waits outside the alley until the three counterintelligence men leave their meeting place.

When Cheyenne returns to the ranch, Grannick and Wilson shove their guns into his ribs. Wilson has killed Sharp and Poole to cover his tracks. As he's leaving, he orders Grannick to kill Cheyenne so they can continue with the next raid. Cheyenne wrestles with Grannick for his gun and overpowers him, then rides back to the fort at a gallop. Tenson orders his men to arrest Cheyenne as soon as he appears but Bodie demands to show him the proof that Wilson is working with the raiders. After seeing the evidence, Tenson gives up his grudge and orders his men to ride out and stop the next raid. They corner the raiders in a valley, send burning branches down the hillsides and force most to surrender. Wilson takes off on horseback with Cheyenne on his heels.

Wilson and Cheyenne face off amongst some rocks and Cheyenne tricks Wilson into thinking he's run out of bullets. When Wilson charges him, Cheyenne shoots away his gun and forces him to return and face justice.

Quotes

"It's a pleasure to hate you, Cheyenne."
"Bein' hated sure is a lonely business."

- Lt. Poole and Cheyenne joke about being enemies.

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