Fury at Furnace Creek

Synopsis: Two sons of a general try to prove that he did not give an order that resulted in the Indian massacre of a wagon train and army fort.
Genre: Western
Production: 20th Century Fox Film Corporation
  1 nomination.
88 min

In 1880,

silver was not yet king in the Furnace Hills.

But rumor that the Apache Indians used

silver bullets in their rifles was widespread...

and certain interests were clamoring

for the territory...

to be thrown open to the white man

for development and exploitation.

Tension was gathering, and supplies

and reinforcements were en route...

- to the hard-pressed garrison

at old Fort Furnace Creek.

The route to Fort Furnace Creek lay

through territory dominated by Little Dog-

as ruthless and shrewd a fighter...

as his master, old Geronimo himself.

- Troop, halt! Halt!

- Captain Walsh, sir?

- What is it?

- Dispatch from Fort Putnam.

- Trouble, Cap?

- Inform General Blackwell his orders will be carried out.

- That's all.

- Yes, sir.

Lieutenant Ramsay?

- Yes, sir.

- We're to proceed to Lordsburg immediately.

- The wagon trail will continue on to Fort Furnace Creek.

- Without escort?

- Those are my orders.

- But you can't leave us here unprotected.

- And them hills are swarmin' with Apache.

- We haven't seen any.

You don't till it's too late. Give an Apache

a blade of grass to hide behind...

you'll have an arrow in your gullet

before he's within 10 miles.

- I can't understand such an order, sir.

- Give the command.

Yes, sir.

Army or no army, I'm responsible for this outfit.

You go to Lordsburg, we go with you.

We couldn't wait for you.

The orders say, "with all possible speed. "

- That's not an order. That's a death warrant.

- I'm sorry. I've no choice.

Troop, forward. Yo!

- Hey!

- Move!

Here they come!

- Wagon train! -

Mail! - Mail from home!

- Tonight we can have a party!

- Come on. It is!

Hey! You're not w-

The massacre at Fort Furnace Creek

aroused both Congress and the nation.

The Apache were driven out,

and the territory was thrown open.

Boomtowns sprang up overnight

in the newly expropriated territory.

In a matter of months,

10,000 settlers, miners and merchants...

poured into the Furnace Hills.

The largest of these mushroom towns

was Furnace Creek.

Meanwhile, an investigation of the massacre

was being held at Fort Leavenworth...

resulting in court-martial proceedings

against General Fletcher Blackwell...

who was charged with sending the order

that recalled the cavalry escort.

Captain Walsh, you've already testified that

the wagon master showed deep concern...

at General Blackwell's order.

Exactly how did he express himself?

At first he said that he would refuse to continue

with the trip if we left him without escort.

I advised him that

I had to obey my orders.

- What did he say then?

- He said it wasn't an order. It was a death warrant.

Were you of the same opinion?

- Do I have to answer?

- That's all.

Captain Steele, do you also wish

to reexamine the witness for the defense?

Yes, sir.

Captain Walsh, you have requested permission

to resign from the army?

- I have.

- Why?

General Blackwell was my commanding officer.

I always looked up to him.

When this happened, I-

I lost heart for the army.

You testified that, after you showed

the order to Lieutenant Ramsay...

you placed it

in one of your saddlebags...

and that your mount,

along with several others...

was stampeded by raiding Apaches

during evening mess, and the order was lost.

That is right.

May I draw the attention of the court, sir,

to the rather odd circumstance...

of the Apache conveniently

running off the witness's horse?

Objection, sir!

Such inferences are improper,

Captain Steele.

The court will disregard them.

Strike them from the record.

- That is all.

- Excused.

- Yes, sir.

- This way, sir.

- How does it look, Captain?

- Your father hasn't testified yet.

- Were you on the stand?

- Yes.

Well, surely you don't believe

the general sent that order.

I can only testify as to facts.

But you served under him.

You know the sort of a man he is.

I'm sorry, Captain, very sorry.

- Have you any more witnesses, Captain Steele?

- Yes, sir. I call one more.

I call General Fletcher Blackwell.

Raise your right hand.

Do you swear the evidence that you shall give

in the case now in hearing...

shall be the truth, the whole truth

and nothing but the truth so help you God?

I do.

General Blackwell, did you dispatch

the order in question to Captain Walsh?

- I did not.

- What then was the nature of the order you did send to him?

After Captain Walsh left headquarters,

I learned that Little Dog...

was in the vicinity of Fort Furnace Creek

in greater strength than I had supposed.

My dispatch to Captain Walsh

informed him of the situation there...

and reiterated my previous order to make

all possible speed to Fort Furnace Creek.

Have you any knowledge of the order

Captain Walsh testified he received?

- None whatever.

- Your witness.

General Blackwell, two years ago you commanded

an expedition into the Furnace Hills.

- I did.

- What was the purpose of the expedition?

It was a peace mission. Some of the Indians

were going off the reservation.

We hoped to restore the friendly relations

that had existed between the tribe and ourselves.

Did you succeed?

My official report

is available to you.

I've already read your official report,

General, very carefully.

Frankly I'm a bit puzzled by it-

not by what it says, because it covers

the Indian situation very thoroughly...

but by what it does not say.

Isn't it true, General,

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Charles G. Booth

Charles G. Booth (February 12, 1896 – May 22, 1949) was a British-born writer who settled in America and wrote several classic Hollywood stories, including The General Died at Dawn (1936) and Sundown (1941). He won an Academy Award for Best Story for The House on 92nd Street in 1945, a thinly disguised version of the FBI "Duquesne Spy Ring saga", which led to the largest espionage conviction in the history of the United States. He also penned the short story "Caviar for His Excellency" which was the basis for the play "The Magnificent Fraud" and was the basis for Paul Mazursky's 1988 film Moon Over Parador. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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