Captain Nathan Brittles, on the eve of retirement, takes out a last patrol to stop an impending massive Indian attack. Encumbered by women who must be evacuated, Brittles finds his mission imperiled.

Captain Nathan Brittles: Never apologize. It's a sign of weakness.
Sgt. Tyree: [after the fight at Sudrow's Well] Sir, would you take a look at Trooper Smith?
Pvt. John Smith aka Rome Clay: [mortally wounded] Don't bother about me, Captain. Trust you'll forgive my presumption... I'd like to commend the boy here... for the way he handled this action. In the best tradition of the cavalry, sir.
Sgt. Tyree: [to Pvt. Smith] I take that very kindly, sir.
Pvt. John Smith aka Rome Clay: Captain Tyree! Captain Tyree!
Captain Nathan Brittles: Speak to him.
Sgt. Tyree: Thank you.
[comes to attention]
Sgt. Tyree: Yes, Sir. Sir! Sir!
Captain Nathan Brittles: [realizes that Smith has died] I'm afraid he can't hear you, Captain.
Captain Nathan Brittles: [while burying the dead] I also commend to your keeping, Sir, the soul of Rome Clay, late Brigadier General, Confederate States Army. Known to his comrades here, Sir, as Trooper John Smith, United States Cavalry... a gallant soldier and a Christian gentleman.
Sgt. Hochbauer: [enters the bar with a crew to arrest Quincannon] You're under arrest, Quincannon.
Top Sergeant Quincannon: By whose orders?
Sgt. Hochbauer: By order of Capt. Brittles. Are you coming peaceably?
Top Sergeant Quincannon: Laddie, I've never gone any place peaceably in me life.
[puts down his drink and slugs Sgt. Hochbauer]
[Brittles knows Quincannon has been drinking on duty]
Captain Nathan Brittles: You got a breath on you like a hot mince pie.
Top Sergeant Quincannon: Ah, Captain darlin'. As you well know I took "the pledge" after Chapultepec.
Captain Nathan Brittles: And Bull Run, and Gettysburg, and Shiloh, and St. Patrick's Day, and Fourth of July!
Sgt. Tyree: [picking up a Cavalry cap] Cheyennes, Laddie. The same ones that killed them Yankee soldiers with General Custer.
Olivia Dandridge: [after the massacre at Sudrow's Wells] You don't have to say it, Captain. I know all this is because of me; because I wanted to see the West; because I wasn't - I wasn't "Army" enough to stay the winter.
Captain Nathan Brittles: You're not quite "Army" yet, miss... or you'd know never to apologize... it's a sign of weakness.
Olivia Dandridge: Yes, but this was your last patrol and I'm to blame for it.
Captain Nathan Brittles: Only the man who commands can be blamed. It rests on me... mission failure!
Narrator: So Nathan Brittles, ex-captain of cavalry U.S.A., started westward for the new settlements in California: westward toward the setting sun, which is the end of the trail for all old men. But the army hadn't finished with Nathan Brittles and it sent a galloper after him. THAT was Sgt. Tyree's department.
Sgt. Tyree: Yo-oh! Capt. Brittles!
[catches up to him]
Sgt. Tyree: Captain, sir.
Captain Nathan Brittles: Huh?
Sgt. Tyree: For you, sir. From the Yankee War Department.
[hands him the dispatch]
Captain Nathan Brittles: I knew it. Dad blast it... I knew it!
[reading the dispatch]
Captain Nathan Brittles: What? Sergeant... my appointment: chief of scouts! With a rank of Lt. Colonel. And will you look at those endorsements: Phil Sheridan, William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses Simpson Grant, President of The United States of America! There's three aces for you, boy!
Sgt. Tyree: Yeah, but I kinda wish you'da been a-holdin' a full hand.
Captain Nathan Brittles: Huh? Full hand? Whaddaya mean: full hand?
Sgt. Tyree: Robert E. Lee, sir.
Captain Nathan Brittles: Oh. Heh... wouldn't a been bad. Let's go.
Captain Nathan Brittles: [the troop presents him with a solid silver watch for his retirement. He puts on his glasses and reads the engraved sentiment on the back] "To Capt. Brittles from C Troop. Lest we forget."
[Brittles and Tyree ride into the Indian camp to negotiate]
Captain Nathan Brittles: Were you ever scared, "Captain" Tyree?
Sgt. Tyree: Yes, sir. Up to and includin' now.
Abby Allshard: How did "Marching Through Georgia" take the idea of "Old Iron Pants" riding with him?
Major Mac Allshard, Commanding Officer Fort Starke: Under protest, my dear.
Captain Nathan Brittles: Under WRITTEN protest, Abby, of course. It's always my pleasure to escort "Old Iron Pants." Well, as long as you're going along with us, I guess we'll have...
[notices how she's dressed]
Captain Nathan Brittles: Abby, that is the dad-blastedest outfit I ever did see. Quincannon's old britches.
Top Sergeant Quincannon: [about to cross a river] Can you swim, Dickie me boy?
Dickie, small boy: No.
Top Sergeant Quincannon: Well, I'm the best swimmer in the world. Once I swam the English Channel... with an anvil on me chest.
Olivia Dandridge: I'm sorry I made such a fool of myself at the gate this morning.
Captain Nathan Brittles: You made a fool out of a couple of young lieutenants. That's never against Army regulations.
Captain Nathan Brittles: I don't know where you got your brains, Sergeant - God must have given you that pair of eyes. They're Arapahos, alright. Headin' the same way we are. Now why would they be movin' on Sudrow's Wells, Sergeant? Answer me that.
Sgt. Tyree: My mother didn't raise any sons to be makin' guesses in front of Yankee captains.
Top Sergeant Quincannon: Now men, I want youse all to pay attention to what I got to say. We'll have women going with us on this trip, so I want you to watch them words. Watch them words!
Trooper: Watch them grammar!
Top Sergeant Quincannon: Who said that?
[walks up and down ranks]
Top Sergeant Quincannon: Whose dog is this? Whose dog is this?
[pats dog on the head]
Top Sergeant Quincannon: Nice dog; Irish setter.
Captain Nathan Brittles: [Cohill and Pennell are about to fight over Olivia] Button your shirt, Mister Pennell! Thought better of you. Four years out here and still actin' like a wet-eared "kaydet" on the Hudson. What is this all about, Mr. Cohill?
Lt. Flint Cohill: Sir, I... I decline to answer... respectfully.
Captain Nathan Brittles: Mr. Cohill, it is a bitter thing, indeed, to learn that an officer who has had nine years experience in the cavalry - the officer to whom I am surrendering command of this troop in two more days - should have so little grasp of leadership as to allow himself to be chivvied into a go at fisticuffs while 'Taps' still sounds over a brave man's grave! God help this troop when I'm gone.
Chief Pony That Walks: Hey, Nathan! Nathan! I am a Christian! Hallelujah! Old friend, me. Long time. Long time.
Captain Nathan Brittles: I come in peace, Pony That Walks.
Chief Pony That Walks: Talk a salt, Nathan. Take salt. Smoke pipe. Good. Good.
Captain Nathan Brittles: Pony That Walks, my heart is sad at what I see. Your young men painted for war. Their scalp knives red. The medicine drums talking. It is a bad thing!
Chief Pony That Walks: A bad thing, Nathan. Many will die. My young men, your young men. No good. No good.
Captain Nathan Brittles: We must stop this war.
Chief Pony That Walks: Too late, Nathan. Young men do not listen to me. They listen to Big Medicine. Yellow Hair Custer dead. Buffalo come back. Red sun. Too late, Nathan! You will come with me. Hunt buffalo together. Smoke many pipes. We are too old for war.
Captain Nathan Brittles: Yes, we are too old for war. But old men should stop wars.
Chief Pony That Walks: Too late, too late! Many squaws will sing the Death Songs. Many lodges will be empty. You come with me, we hunt buffalo, get drunk together! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Captain Nathan Brittles: No, friend, I must go. I go far away.
Chief Pony That Walks: Then, Nathan, my brother, go in peace.
[Nathan has retired and speaks to Maj. Mac Allshard before leaving the fort]
Captain Nathan Brittles: Well, on my way. Goodbye, Mac. Say goodbye to Abby.
Abby Allshard: [she walks up] And you'll do no such thing, Nathan Brittles. 'Goodbye' is a word we don't use in the cavalry. To our next posting...
[she hugs him]
2nd Lt. Ross Penell: I'm sorry, sir...
Captain Nathan Brittles: Oh, shut up!
Captain Nathan Brittles: Sgt. Tyree, I'm ordering you to volunteer again.
Captain Nathan Brittles: [at his wife's grave, referring to Olivia Dandridge] Nice girl... reminds me of you.
Abby Allshard: [Capt. Brittles is retiring after tonight] Where will you go, Nathan?
Captain Nathan Brittles: Oh, West, I guess, Abby... California... new settlements.
Captain Nathan Brittles: [to Olivia] "Old soldiers...", Miss Dandridge... hah! Someday you'll learn how they hate to give up. Captain of the troop one day: every man's face turned towards you; lieutenants jump when I growl! Now, tomorrow, I'll be glad if a blacksmith asks me to shoe a horse.
[he leaves]
Top Sergeant Quincannon: [on their upcoming retirement] The army will never be the same when we retire, sir.
Captain Nathan Brittles: The army is always the same. The sun and the moon change, but the army knows no seasons.
Top Sergeant Quincannon: I'll have a whiskey, Irish, and I'll pour it myself.
Captain Nathan Brittles: [reading as he writes a letter of protest] How many *r's* in territory?
Major Mac Allshard, Commanding Officer Fort Starke: Two.
Chief Pony That Walks: I am a Christian! Halleluja!
[When asked if the dead man in the coach was the Army paymaster]
Sgt. Tyree: Yeah... Well, it look's like we're not gonna for another three months!
Captain Nathan Brittles: Where are you going, Mr. Penell?
2nd Lt. Ross Penell: Picnic-ing, sir.
Captain Nathan Brittles: Picnic-ing?
[to Olivia Dandridge]
Captain Nathan Brittles: Picnic-ing, Miss Dandridge? Where, in St Louis?
Lt. Flint Cohill: Where do you plan on having your picnic, Ross?
2nd Lt. Ross Penell: Three months from now at Delmonico's in New York with Olivia on my arm arm, and I won't be wearning a blue suit either, bub.
Captain Nathan Brittles: Give 'em a wide berth. Mr Cohill, post Sudrow's Wells by way of Twin Forks.
Lt. Flint Cohill: We'll lose half a day, sir.
2nd Lt. Ross Penell: The ladies will miss their stage, sir
Captain Nathan Brittles: Would you rather have them miss their scalps, sir?
Captain Nathan Brittles: [noticing the horse] Sidesaddle, Riley?
Soldier: Sidesaddle, sir.
Top Sergeant Quincannon: [speaking to Capt. Brittles about Lt. Cohill and Olivia Dandridge who have been bickering on the trail] They'll make a fine, boisterous couple when they're married, Captain!
[Quincannon is celebrating his upcoming retirement]
Sgt. Hochbauer: You're out of uniform, Quincannon.
Top Sergeant Quincannon: Oh, I am, am I? Well, I'm in the proper uniform... the uniform of a retired gentleman.
[enters the bar]
Sgt. Tyree: My mother didn't raise any sons to be makin' guesses to Yankee captains.
[watching from a distance as Apaches torture gunrunners who cheated them]
Captain Nathan Brittles: [to Sgt. Tyree] Join me in a chaw of tobacco?
Sgt. Tyree: No, sir. I don't chaw and I don't play cards.
Captain Nathan Brittles: Chawing tobacco is a nasty habit. Been known to turn a man's stomach.
2nd Lt. Ross Penell: I'll take a chaw if you please, sir.
[Repeated line]
Sgt. Tyree: That ain't my department, sir.
[to his horse, after finding a soldiers hat with a feather in it]
Sgt. Tyree: Cheyannes', Laddie, the some ones who had killed them Yankee soldiers with General Custer.
[last lines]
Narrator: [as the troop passes by] So here they are: the dog-faced soldiers, the regulars, the fifty-cents-a-day professionals... riding the outposts of a nation. From Fort Reno to Fort Apache - from Sheridan to Startle - they were all the same: men in dirty-shirt blue and only a cold page in the history books to mark their passing. But wherever they rode - and whatever they fought for - that place became the United States.

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