"Court Martial"

(Original air date 03/06/67)


Strangers invade the Barkley home to execute a former Union general
for war crimes


Writer: Steven W. Carabatsos

Director: Virgil W. Vogel

Audra returns home, excited by the visit of Nick’s former Union commander, General Alderson (Henry Jones). After learning from Ciego (Miguel deAnda) that he and Jarrod are on their way from the train station, she hurries inside while the ranch hand heads for the tack room. There, intruders surprise him and tie him up.


They proceed to the front porch where they grab Silas as he cuts some fresh blooms for Victoria. They drag him to the tack room to strap him next to Ciego.

Finally they irrupt in the dining room to take Victoria and Audra hostage. The leader, Macklin (Alan Bergmann), informs them that they have come to execute a sentence of death.


Jarrod offers General Alderson a brief tour of the ranch as they drive to the main house, while discussing the Army deal for the acquisition of prime horses. Alderson reiterates his wish to be regarded as a civilian acting on behalf of the Army purchasing department and not as a high-ranking officer.

Macklin and his men search the house for any unwanted guests that might impede their plan. He offers no further explanation to Victoria as to their intrusion into the house, only that they are awaiting the return of her son Jarrod with eager expectation. He and his cohort Curtis (L.Q. Jones) go up to the attic to secure the ladies to keep them from under foot.


Guns welcome Jarrod and Alderson at the house. Threats abound as to the likely consequences of any heroic gesture. Macklin’s cohort, Borean (David Renard), is quick to refresh a bemused general’s memory of the massacre of his town of Mayville during the war that occurred under his command. A tragedy they intent to have him paid with his life.


A chink in the intruders’ flawless plan is Nick’s and Heath’s unexpected return from a cattle drive. Deeming odd Ciego’s absence, Nick goes to the tack room to find him but bumps against a locked door instead, behind which the faithful hand and servant are tied and gagged, unable to cry for help.

At the house, the welcoming committee orders them to the living room.


Up in the attic, Victoria attempts to worm information out of Curtis but the man remains evasive about the true purpose of their visit. Audra chooses another avenue, which is to have the man open a window as a distraction. She seizes the moment to dash for the door but her endeavour is rapidly thwarted.

Downstairs, Nick fervently contests Alderson’s guilt. As his second in command he testifies that the general never gave the direct order to pillage that village and slaughter all those innocent souls.

While Borean and Macklin step out of the room to discuss their next step, Jarrod assures Nick that he had no knowledge whatsoever of the true identity of the man sent to purchase horses on behalf of the army. Nick accepts that and renews his acquaintance with his former commanding officer.


Macklin begins grilling Nick for information about that fateful night, going as far as laying blame on him for being a party to the massacre. When the men turn into a hanging mob, Jarrod proposes staging a court of law to bring to light the facts behind this two-sided version of the story. Macklin reluctantly agrees to Jarrod terms and allows him a few minutes to consult with his ‘clients’.

The bogus trial is now in session. Borean takes the stand and relates the gruesome events of that unjustified massacre in his hometown of Mayville. Jarrod cross-examines the witness and attempts to discredit his testimony. Thereafter Nick gives his version of that night with Jarrod probing deeper as to the reason for the unusually large detachment deployed. As duty officer Nick swears that General Alderson gave no order for an attack.


Borean goes to the attic to get Curtis to lend credence to his testimony. They tie Victoria and Audra and head back downstairs. Again Jarrod tries to discredit the witness to prove Alderson innocent of the slaughtering.

Upstairs, Victoria manages to crawl up to a lamp in an attempt to sever her bonds.


Alderson admits his soldiers were in Mayville that night and that the killings did occur. He argues that they were the result of an act of cowardice committed by drunkard soldiers consumed by hate and vengeance. He swears that those responsible were later arrested and court-martialled. Macklin argues that following the trial those prosecuted were allowed to go free by alleged Confederate sympathizers.

Victoria accidentally drops the lamp onto the floor, causing the oil to spread and setting a fire ablaze. Luckily Curtis bursts into the room in time to stifle the flames. He blurts out that no harm is to come to them no matter what; a confession that has Victoria pondering the true reason behind this house arrest.

Downstairs Macklin goes for the kill. He pounces on Alderson with every conceivable fact that the squirming general struggles to refute. If they were no enemy to oppose, why then did they open fire? Alderson admits to shooting at his own soldiers to stop the butchering of innocent civilians.


As the tension mounts Heath decides to create a diversion by jumping through a window. He hides on the roof of the barn and waits, poised ready to pounce on the two men sent to search for him. He knocks them out cold, grabs their guns and heads to the house where Macklin is binding Nick’s wrists to prep him for the hanging.


He and Jarrod order Macklin and his men to drop their weapons. However the tables are turned on the Barkley brothers when Curtis shows up with the women, threatening to hurt them should they not comply with their demand. Despite the threat of a double hanging, Heath and Jarrod concede and reluctantly hands over the guns.


Macklin orders Borean, Tanner (Clay Tanner) and Donnelly (Paul Comi) to bring the prisoners outside, where a rope awaits their throats. They loop the rope around Alderson’s neck and put him on a horse. Hysterical, the general admits that he was a Confederate spy in a Union uniform. He gave orders to attack the village to his other second in command that he later killed to silence him; otherwise he would have been branded a traitor. The slaughtering was to prove himself worthy of the Rebels’ cause while plotting the assassination of President Lincoln.


The slobbering over, Jarrod reveals to Alderson, Nick and Heath that those alleged Confederate officers are in reality Federal officers sent to wring a confession out of Alderson for unpunished war crimes. When he discovers that is own brother was party to such a hideous plan, Nick punches him in the jaw and marches back home.


Days later Jarrod exposes to his family his dilemma in playing a part in this elaborate scheme and how he often came close to calling the whole thing off. Heath, Victoria and Audra readily forgive him but Nick snubs his excuses and strides out the room.

Jarrod follows him to the poolroom to further explain his position. He assures Nick that Victoria and Audra were never in any danger; that the officers were under strict orders to abort the plan should they be threatened in any way. Nick resigns to the fact that he probably would have done the same had the roles been reversed.


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