Custer of the West (1967) - full transcript

The story of U.S. Army commander George Armstrong Custer, a flamboyant hero of the Civil War who later fought and was exterminated with his entire command by warring Sioux and Cheyenne tribes at the battle of Little Big Horn in 1876.

- Custer
- General

Didn't recognize you without
your horse. Sit down.

Thank you, sir.

Lincoln wants us to write
personally to the...

widows and bereaved mothers.

- You knew Major Bridges, didn't you?
- I did.

Dear Madam, as Commanding

I had the opportunity to know
your late husband,"

Major Bridges.

And I was present at his death.

It may comfort you to know that
he died like the coward he was...

with his back to the enemy, climbing
a fence to get away.

- What did you write?
- The usual, of course.

He met his end unflinchingly,
despite severe wounds...

and sacrificed his life so that
others might live, etc.

Philip H. Sheridan, Commanding

Army of the Potomac.

You're staying in the Army,
aren't you, Custer?

I like the life. You know that.

And you want me to find a post
for you. Someplace...

lively, interesting.

That's what I'm here for, General.

There are some Indians out west
that need killing.

But that's a dirty job.

Not the sort of thing that appeals
to you, is it?


No, you prefer a holy war.

Save the Union, onward Christian
soldiers, free the slaves.

I suppose I can't blame you.

No one's gonna pin a medal on you
for killing Indians...

and stealing their land.

What's the matte r?

I'm concerned about you, son.

You're the only man who reached
the top of his profession...

and was on his way down
before he was 30.

What happens to a boy general when
they don't need...

any more generals?

I don't know.

Tell me.

I suppose the boy general could
become a boy...

farmer or a boy bank clerk.

Or how about a cowboy?

- I forgot, you don't drink.
- You didn't forget.

You didn't forget. You just
keep trying.

All right.

I'll make a drunkard out of you yet.


you must have something
I'm right for.

I've got a few jobs here. You
can have your pick.

I guess you deserve it.

Occupation, garrison in Atlanta.

A soft life.

Sort of like being a prison warden.


Here's another one.

There's an arsenal up in New York
State, out of service.

They won't be making any more guns.

But it's government property,
so it has to be protected.

Somebody's gotta make sure the
kids there don't...

throw rocks through the windows.


All right.

Here's a job as cavalry instructor
at West Point.

Teaching the youngsters how to
get on and off a horse.

No, General.

- Well, what do you want?
- I want action.

That brings us back to the Indians.

They're on the land and we want
it. Plain robbery.

You won't be able to tell yourself
you're fighting...

for a noble cause.

There must be more than a million
of them out there.

You'll be outnumbered 100-to-1.

You'll be fighting against
the best light

cavalry in the world.

You'll have to chase the devils
over the roughest...

country in the world:

deserts, mountains, prairies.

You know, Custer, you could
become a living legend.

Or get yourself killed.

Dead men make better legends.

It's up to you.

You want to go west?

Mom, over here. Here I am.

Mommy, there's Daddy.

Look, there's Custer!

How come they didn't name
the boat after you?

Take the flowers, Libby.

Are you really a general, Autie?

Do you think I hired this uniform?

It's true what everyone's saying.
You won the war...

all by yourself.

- No, I was only in 60 charges.
- I know. I fought in...

every one of them, too.

Alone in bed every night.

You're not the only hero
in the family.

Did I tell you they built a statue
of you outside the courthouse?

How do I look?

Just as you did getting off that
boat. 10 feet tall.

I used to go out there every day
and sit beside you and knit.

Can I climb down now, then?

Where's your luggage?

On the boat.

You're going somewhere?

Dakota territory.

This time you're going with me.

Remember what the man said:

For richer, for poorer, for better,
for worse.

My bags are there.

Have we got a comfortable cabin?

General Sheridan sent me
a message.

This time we're enlisting together,
my friend.

Miners. I warned them.

This show being put on for us?

They're telling you, General Custer.

Keep the settlers out of Indian
territory or they'll...

handle things themselves.

You seem to understand the Indian
point of view, Benteen.

Watch it!

Grab the stick, Charlie, and
try to steer.

Try to steer it. Attaboy!

You're coming to a left. Turn.
Push it to the left.

All right, hold it steady now.

We're coming to a right turn
now. All right.

What's wrong with it? Turn
it to the right!

Come on, to the right. That's it.

All right. You all right, Charlie?
Watch it!

Do it quick! Hurry up! To the left.

Hold it steady, Charlie.

We're coming to a right now, watch
it. Turn to the right.

We're going over!

Hold it! All right, t0 the left.

Here we go. To the right.

Hold it now. To the left!


Dismount the men. Prepare to fire.

The Indians are well within
their rights, sir.

The treaty gives them the authority
when they're...

on their territory.



All right, the Indians are out of
range. Stop wasting...

your ammunition.

Cease fire.


Present swords.

Major Reno reporting, sir.
Welcome to the fort.

Troops are ready for inspection,

Thank you, Major.

I hope the parade met with
your approval, sir.

- Very good. One observation.
- Sir?

You only play Hail to the Chief
to the President of...

the United States.

- I'll have that corrected, sir.
- Thank you.

- Dismiss the men.
- Yes, sir.

Order arms.


Dismiss the troops, Sergeant.

Troop dismissed.

Why did you join the Army, Captain?

Come in, Major Reno.

Just asking the Captain here why
he joined the Army.

Sit down.

You're a crusader, ain't you?

You saved the Union.

Now you want to save the world.
That's not the kind of...

army I'm going to run.

Yes, sir.

Now, Major, what made you choose
the military way of life?

Well, sir, I was born into it.

I came from a long line of

soldiers, sir.

My father fought with Andy
Jackson, and my...

brother was at the Alamo.

Father a drunk, too?

I'd like to remind you that I'm an
officer and a gentleman.

I was wondering, Major, if you
come from a long...

line of drunkards.

By the way, that parade of
yours out there...

was the most miserable-looking
parade I ever saw...

in all my life.

How many drinks did you have
today, Major?

One or two? Can't remember?

I'll tell you why you joined
the Army.

It's because the Army gave
you a home.

Because, blind or sober, no matter
how many drinks...

you're entitled to the salute.

You're entitled to the respect of
every officer and...

man under your command.


there's no law that says you
can't drink.

But if I find you drunk on duty...


that long line of officers is
gonna end right here...

with you, Major.

You like him as much as I do,

Troop ready, sir.

- Good morning, Major.
- Good morning, sir.

My orders were for a full troop,
were they not?

Yes, sir. The rest of the men fell
out for sick call, sir.

- Get down, will you, Major?
- Yes, sir.

I think that's ridiculous.

Good morning, surgeon.

- Got an epidemic here, have you?
- Malingerers, every one of them.

You mind if I have a word with
your patients,"

if they're not too sick?

- They're as healthy as mules.
- Thank you, surgeon.

- I want the cook, Major.
- Yes, sir.

Now then, soldier.

- What's your ailment?
Breathing, sir.

Comes hard. My lungs, sir.

You don't too look sick to me,

Appearances, sir. Inside,
I'm rotting away.

I see you've been in the Army
a long time, Sergeant.

Sergeant Buckley. 15 years, sir.

This illness come over you

Yes, sir.

- Must be catching.
- Yes, sir.

All right, cook.

- Many of the men skip breakfast?
- None, sir.

- Did they have a good meal?
- Yes, sir. Liver and onions.



Fried potatoes.


Pie and coffee.

Pie and coffee. All right,
thank you, cook.


you think this epidemic has
something to do...

with my orders to move out
against the Cheyenne?

General, this epidemic is gonna
last just as long...

as your orders stand.

Unless the men get the
right treatment.

What would you prescribe? A little
mild exercise, perhaps?

Might be just the thing. I'd try it.

With your permission.

Major, I want all the men out here
in 10 minutes with...

rifles and full packs.

- Yes, sir.
- That goes for officers, too...

Major Reno.

Yes, sir.

You heard what the man said.

On the parade ground in full field
gear in 10 minutes.

Get the lead out! Get going!

Double time.

Double time, hold.


Keep the pace, Sergeant.

Hut, two, three, four. Pick them up!


Troop, halt.



Right shoulder...


Present arms.

Forward arms.

All right, soldier.


Lieutenant, Cheyenne.

What the hell are they doing
off the reservation?

I don't know, but we're gonna
take them right back.

Hold it, men.

There are too many of them.

- Sergeant Gas kins.
- Yes, sir.

We'll split the column, take the
wagon up the trail.

Yes, sir.


we'll go the hard way.

They're headed straight into
the desert, sir.

Hard going, dragging guns and
wagons through that sand.

Harder on the men, sir. Worse
for the horses.

We've got to punish them, sir.

They killed two of our men.


We'll lose a lot more than two men
if we go chasing...

them down out there.

Now, listen.

There's 35 Indians out there.

If we lose them, every Cheyenne
on the reservation...

will figure he can get away
with it, too.

Six months from now, we'll be
chasing 4,000 of them.

That's gonna be much worse on
the men and a lot...

harder on the horses.

- So give the order, Lieutenant.
- Yes, sir.

All right, let's move them out.

Come on, let's get going.

We can't move it any further.

- Take it apart. Put it on runners.
- Yes, sir.

Break out the tools.

- Give me some water.
- No.

- No water. General's orders.
- I'm thirsty.

That's all. Get off it!

Get away.

No use chasing him, sir.
The sun's got him.

Get up, soldier.

The sun will be down in an hour.

We'll all have a drink.

Come on, boy.

Out of range.

- Sergeant Gas kins.
- Sir.

All right. Bring up the cannon.

Yes, sir.



All right, Sergeant.

- Move them out.
- Yes, sir.

- Sir?
- Get a rifle.

Shoot over their heads.

All right.

Knock one down.

Give him another warning.

Knock him down.

Let me get him, sir.

All right.

Wait a minute.

They think the chief turned
into a bird.

Shoot the bird down, Sergeant.

Shoot it down.

- Take care of the prisoners.
- Yes, sir.

Come on.

How about that Indian up
there, General?

You shot him down, Sergeant.

Don't you believe a man can
turn into a bird?

Look at them, sir. They've got
no fight left in them.

We took the whole Cheyenne
Nation with 265 men.

Pizarro conquered Peru with 167.

I've come a long way to tell you
men personally...

that I am damn well fed up with
these Cheyenne raids.

The whole Army is fed up.
Washington's fed up.

Murder, rape, scalping, burning,

It's our job to put a stop
to all that.

And put a stop to it now.

If there's any doubt about the
policy of my command...

I'll give it to you in one sentence:

The only good Indian is a
dead Indian.

Clear enough?

Very good, General. Very
well put, sir.

You don't look too happy, Captain.
Don't you approve?

I'm afraid I don't, sir.

We steal their land and break our
treaties. We have no...

excuse to murder them, too.

Another bleeding heart.

The country is full of bleeding
hearts. Now we...

even have them in the Army.

Coffee, gentlemen?

Just for two.

That's all for now.

I don't suppose you have
any whiskey?

No, I'm afraid not.

I know you don't drink...

but you might keep some around
for those who do.

I'll fetch some for you
from the store.

Thank you.

- Will there be anything else?
- Yes.

You might tell me that you're
pleased to see me.

After all, your husband is becoming
a national hero, thanks to me.

Autie and I are grateful, General.
You know that very well.

Well, forget the whiskey. It's bad
for the liver anyway.

How's your liver, George?

Fine, General.

Stay healthy, George. Your
country needs you.

You're a lucky girl, Elizabeth.

Yes, I know I am, General.

Thank you.

You two must have a lot to talk
about. Excuse me.

Now sit down and listen to me.

There's an election coming up. The
administration needs a victory.

I promised them one.

Wrong time of the year for a
victory. Got to cross too...

many rivers, you know that.

I just told you it's the right time,
George. Election time.

And it so happens the Cheyenne
have broken the treaty.

Left the reservation.

Last month, we gave the Cheyenne
rifles so they...

could go hunting.

Now you're telling me to kill them
because they've gone hunting.

I read in all the eastern

that you're General Custer, the
great Indian fighter.

I'm told you have the best cavalry
regiment in the...

United States Army.

And I'm telling you to go out
and fight them.

I wish you'd tell me how to
surround 10 Indians...

with one soldier.

No one knows your war record
better than I.

I'm betting on Custer's luck.


there's 4,000 Cheyenne in the
villages of the Washita...

and I've got 400 soldiers.

George, I'm out on a limb.
I can't crawl back.

I think you owe me this one.

Take a dispatch to General Sheridan.

Despite overwhelming odds, a great
victory was won here today.

Factors contributing to our
success were:

One, the Indians were asleep.


the women and children offered
little resistance.


the Indians are bewildered by
our change of policy.


Should you require any further

towards your election campaign,
be so good as to let me know.

Your obedient servant...


- Who are all these people?
- Riffraff and miners, sir.

We caught them crossing into
Cheyenne territory.

There's been a gold strike on
the reservation, sir.


come on.

How long has this rabble
been here?

Four days, sir.

We can't keep them here, sir.

If you approve, I'd like to march
them to the railroad...

and ship them back east.

Gold, Captain.

Send them men away, sir, and
they'll just bring back...

a thousand more.

We've already pushed the Cheyennes
out of half their territory.

We can't let these people
take the rest of it.

Come in, gentlemen.

Autie, I forgot to give
you this letter.

- It's from General Sheridan.
- Thank you, dear.

Sorry to keep you waiting,
gentlemen. Excuse me.

- All right.
- Go ahead, Captain. Tell him.

Tell me what?

- I brought somebody to see you.
- Who?

A Cheyenne.

About what?

Talk to him. He's right here.

- Did you make him any promises?
- I only promised him...

that you'd see him.

Speak English?

Been to Washington twice. He's
negotiated two treaties...

both of which we broke.

I am George Armstrong Custer.

Officer in the United States Army.

Now, the captain here tells me
that you understand...

English. Is that so?


Because I want you to understand
me very clearly.

I know the only reason you've come
here is to threaten me.

If I don't promise to keep the
miners out of Indian...

territory you're gonna start
killing them.

Isn't that true?

Am I speaking too fast for you?

I understand you.

I hope I can make it plain to you...

that I won't bargain with you
about the miners.

I will not be blackmailed into
making any promises.

I am not in a position to make
any promises.

Whatever I decide to do,
I'll do it...

because it is right according
to my way.


I know you've got human rights...

treaty rights, moral rights.

And if ever I should forget
any of them...

there is always Captain Benteen
here to remind me every day.

But I am not a politician.

I'm not a moralist, not a preacher.

When I say moralist...

I mean, I'm not the best of all men.

I'm a soldier.

The only rights that concern me
are the rights of my soldiers.

The only duty that concerns me is
the duty of my command.

I'll make it very simple for you.

The fact that we seem to be
pushing you clear...

off the earth is not my

The problem is precisely the same...

as when you Cheyenne decided to
take another tribe's...

hunting ground.

You didn't ask them about
their rights.

You didn't care if they'd been
there a thousand years.

You just had more men and
more horses. You...

destroyed them in battle.

You took what you wanted.

And, right or wrong...

for better or worse...

that is the way things seem
to get done.

That's history.

I'm talking about history.

You are a militarily defeated

You are paying the price for
being backward.

And whatever my personal feelings...

and I don't say I have any...

there's nothing I can do to
change all this.

Do you understand?

I understand.



see what's going on out there.
Try and shut them up.

Yes, sir.

You let me through.

- Put that man in jail.
- You can't hold us here.

- What's going on here, Sergeant?
- We're gonna have...

trouble in here, Major.

What are these men doing?

We're digging for gold, sir.

This is government property,

Save your breath, Major.

We ain't stopping till you let
us out of here.

This is a parade ground.

We're gonna keep digging till
there's no fort left.

Just one big hole.

Take that pick away from him.

Put those picks down. Put
them down.

Lock these men up, Sergeant.

Put them in the guardhouse!

Did he say anything to you?

No, sir, not a word.

Sir, the second platoon's gone.

Mulligan's platoon?

They went after gold, sir.

Mulligan started it.

Major, get that mob out of here!

Where, General?

I don't care, Benteen.

Open the gates!

Throw them all out!

You're letting them go into
Cheyenne territory.

You know that, don't you?

I know that, Benteen.

Get them out!

Yes, sir.

Open the gates.

Benteen, bring Mulligan back here.

Yes, sir.

Was it an important letter? The
one from General Sheridan?

Unofficially, the President
thinks the...

discovery of gold in the Dakotas
is wonderful news.

Best in the interest of
the country.

I expect you to use your
own judgment.

You did what you had to.

I used my best judgment.

Yellow as butter. Did you ever
see the like, Captain?

You're under arrest, Mulligan.

Mr. Mulligan's the name now, and
happy to see you...

this fine morning.

Come off it, Patty.

I'm taking you back for desertion.


If it's men you need, Captain...

I'll buy you one in my place.

Five. Fifty.

I'll buy you a whole regiment...

and every man in it will be named
Patty Mulligan.

Where are the others, Mulligan?

The trouble started no sooner we
were out the gates.

Some wanted to go north, some
wanted to go south.

I should have known I couldn't get
them to stick to hard work.

For that matter, neither could I.

I just wanted to take off my
army boots...

and cool my feet in the clear
waters of that stream.

And that's how I found the gold.

Lovely, isn't it?

There's enough here for both
of us, Captain.

Think of all the good things a
decent man like you...

could do with it.

Oh, well.

Back it goes.

Sooner or later, some other lucky
man will find it.

Nowl guess I better put
on my boots.

I'll do you no harm, Captain.

You can have your gun back.

Just let me go.

All I ask is your word.


I suppose that's serious business.

At ease, Sergeant.

I was hoping you'd come to
see me, General.

Chaplain tells me you've got
new evidence.

That I have.

But, of course, I don't know how
to put it like a lawyer.

Tell me in your own words then.

It's so hard.

I don't know where to begin.

All right, take your time.
Sit down.

Thank you, sir.

They asked me what I wanted.

Anything you like, considering
it's your last request...

says the Captain.

Then I'll take strawberries.

And if they ain't ripe,
I'll wait.

You get it? I told him I'd wait.

Go on.

I hope you're not in a hurry,

If there's any man with his eye on
the clock, it's me.

Now, where was I?

New evidence.

Yes, new evidence.

I'll give you a drink.

- Thank you, sir.
- All right, sit down.

I was talking about strawberries.

Do you like strawberries, General?

I'm listening.

Lovely fruit.

Once, when I was still a schoolboy...

the teacher asked me to show her
where the wild...

strawberries grew.

I was happy to oblige.

Her being a pretty thing and not
much older than myself.

Berry-picking we went.

It was a beautiful day.

The berries were shining against
the green like rubies.

And after a while she said to me:

Mulligan, you're giving them
all to me.

And I looked in her basket,
and it was true.


And then I understood.

I was in love.

It was the first time.

Sergeant, if it's company you want,
I'll send back the chaplain.

Come morning, you'll be taking
more than a few...

minutes of my time, General.

We've gotta get to the point.

Yes, sir, that's right.

Sergeant, your appeal has been
processed and denied.

Now, you have got to present
me with new facts.


That's right, facts.

That's what the men all admire
about you, General.

You always know all the facts.

You're talking off the point.

I'm talking for my life, General.

You haven't said a single word
I could give to a court...

in new evidence.

You haven't said anything to make
me think that you...

wouldn't desert all over again.

Rules, regulations, court-martials.

I'm talking about the juice in
a man's veins.

I'm talking about all of the good
times you never had.

Off the point, you say.

But drinking, girls, smoking
cigars, chasing rainbows...

That's the point.

You've got no feelings, General.

There's just an empty place inside.

A hole stuffed with rubbish.

The flag, the regiment...


You listen to me, Mulligan.

You didn't think twice about
the soldiers you...

left behind to do your job...

or maybe they'd get killed
doing it.

All you ever wanted was
to strike it rich.

But it wasn't to get rich.

I didn't desert for the gold.

It was for all those other reasons.
That's what I've been...

trying to tell you.

Those are the facts!

I have to go now.

Go on, General.

Go home.

Your wife is waiting for you.

Sergeant, maybe you wanted
too much out of life.

Maybe life doesn't have that
much to offer.


- Tomorrow, sir?
- Daybreak.






I want to introduce you to...

His Imperial Highness, the Grand
Duke Alexis of Russia.

Madame, it is a great pleasure to
meet such a charming person.

Your Imperial Highness, you
do us a great honor.

Please, come this way.

You know, that Duke's really
a nice guy.

Too bad I never know what the
hell he's talking about.

Why don't you learn French? It's
the language of diplomacy.

Are you trying to say I'm
not diplomatic?

What's he doing here?

You know we bought Alaska
from the Russians.

So we're gonna fight the Eskimos?

Now, George, that's not fair.

You know something...

the first thing the Duke said when
he came to Washington:

I want to meet Custer, the
Indian fighter.

It's a fact.

You're a big man along the Volga.

You know something? You're
not doing so badly...

in Washington, either.

You've got a lot of important
friends there.


All right, me.

What is the Duke doing here?

The Duke and a lot of important
foreigners are...

thinking of investing in
America's future.

Like what?

Factories, gold mines, shipping.


It's a big country.

You can't cross from one side to
the other without...

going through the middle.

Yeah, and the middle is
Indian territory.

They've already had to put up with
miners, trappers, soldiers.

Railroad comes, they're gonna
put up with farmers.

May be a big territory. It's not
big enough for everybody.

All right, then something's gotta
give, doesn't it?

You know this is gonna cost us
an awful lot of soldiers?

I'm just a messenger boy.

I got the message, now
you've got it.

They tell me you're not supposed
to keep royalty waiting.

Sit down, General.

You said I've got friends
in Washington.

I have friends in New York,
Boston, and Philadelphia...

because anything I write...

the newspapers will print.

You're gonna write about the
Indian problem?

They don't care.

You're gonna tell them you don't
have enough army.

They don't care.

Is there anything you care
about, Phil?

I won't try to stop you.

If it will help you sleep any
better, go ahead...

and attack the railroads.

Blast the administration.

Damn the Secretary of War.

Do you really think that's gonna
stop the trains...

coming through?

Seems like every time we
get together...

we get into a fight, George.

How soon does the railroad
come through?

It's here now.

They're laying track along the
postman's trail.

The only good Indian is a
dead Indian.

I've said that stupid line to every
officer I've sent west.

And do you know something?

The lndian's doing the same thing
I'd do if I were in his place.

Fight to the bitter end.


Giddyap. Come on you, come along.


- Did you see any hostiles?
- No.

They're here, all right. I can
feel them.

We're turning this nice hunting
ground into sawdust.

Just to build a lousy railroad.

When this line gets to
San Francisco...

I'm gonna take me a ride and see
the Pacific Ocean.

You're never gonna have enough
money to buy a ticket.

Says here they're talking about
appointing General Custer...

as Governor of the Dakota

Can't read.

Can't read, son. Never could.

In my kind of business, a man
don't need to read.

Solid gold from my own gold mine.

Chain, too.

Ring, too.

These days, I don't like anything
but gold to touch my skin.

Even here in my mouth, son.

See that?

You know why, son?

I like the taste of gold.

You say there's an article about
General Custer...

becoming Governor?

He gets my vote. He's the one that
opened up the territories.

The gold territories. Yes, sir,
he sure did.

What the hell is this?

General Custer is supposed to
be guarding us.

Stay down.

If I can uncouple the car,
we can roll down.

I'll cover you.

News of the massacre is all over
the eastern papers, General.

Flags are flying at half-mast.

President's declared a day
of mourning.

Tell me, General...

why did you choose the Army
as a career?

Telegram came from the
War Department.

Shall I read it, sir?

To General George Armstrong

You are hereby relieved
of command...

and suspended from active duty.

You are ordered to report to
Washington, D.C...

within 30 days from the receipt
of this telegramto appear...

before a U.S. Congressional

investigating conditions in the
Indian territories.

Looks like Washington's looking
for somebody to...

blame for the massacre.

Go on, Major.

Major Marcus Reno will
assume command of...

this regiment immediately.


Philip M. Sheridan. Commander.

Stand up, Major.

As the new officer in command
here, do you...

have any changes in mind?

A few.

I made this command.

I like it the way it is, is
that clear?

Yes, sir.

When this Washington
thing is over...

I'll be back. Make no mistake.

I'll be back.

Honored members of the Senate and
the House of Representatives...

I have been listening to your
debate on the Indian...

problem for nine days.

There is no Indian problem.

There is only a White problem.

Sit down!

You asked...

why we nurse hostile tribes one
day and kill them the next?

Why we sign treaties with one hand
and shoot them...

down with the other?

The answer, in a single word, is:


The American people have the right
to know who is responsible.

The answer is...

look to those who are reaping the
profits from this dual policy.

Order in the house!

There is no point in investigating
the military.

I defy you to find a single rich
officer in the...

entire United States Army.

There's no soldier with his safe
stuffed with gold...

bonds and railroad shares.

Order! Sit down!

For the guilty parties...

you are gonna have to look
right here...

in Washington.

And you are gonna have to look
in high places.

I know the men who are responsible...

and I am gonna give you
their names.

Order in the house!

Excuse me, Major, but the mail
just came in.

Hey, look at this.

Seventh Regiment has made the
front page of the...

New York Herald.

Listen to this:

Impeachment procedures have
been taken by Congress...

against Secretary of War Belknap...

because of General Custer's

Belknap has already tendered
his resignation.

Can you imagine that? The
Secretary of War.

Listen to this, sir:

Orville Grant, brother of
President Ulysses S.

Grant was accused by General
Custer of accepting...

a $1,000 bribe.

- Where?
- Here.

The brother of the President.
Can you imagine...

Custer really knows how to hit
them where it hurts...

doesn't he?

I wonder what happens to
the General now.

I'll tell you what happens
to Custer.

The big brass won't kick him
out of the Army.

No, he's too popular for that now.

They got their own way of
handling his kind.

You know what they'll do?
They'll probably...

send him off to Europe.

To count the horses in the
Russian army.

Or they'll just leave him on
suspension indefinitely...

without pay...

until he rots.

He'll just sit around, knock on
doors, write letters...

and eat his heart out.

Finally he'll wind up in some
hotel lobby talking...

to strangers.

Telling them what a big man
he used to be.

And it will serve him right.

- Cold enough?
- Did you go for a walk?

No, I only got as far as the lobby.

A fellowthere started explaining
to me about the...

Battle of Gettysburg.

So I explained to him about the
Battle of Gettysburg.

Anything happen? Any mail?

Yes, there was a letter.

War Department?

No, for me, from Father.

Did you see Sheridan?

No, his adjutant left me word...

that he'd see me this week
for sure.

He doesn't want to see you, Autie.

What did your father write?

He wants to have a big family

Why don't you go home
for Christmas?

Do you good to get out of
Washington for a bit.

Not without you.

Things are liable to happen here.
I've gotta be on tap.

Let's go back to Michigan.

No, I've gotta stay here.

The Army needs men like me. Sooner
or later they'll find that out.

Well, General, you've seen
our firepower.

Now, just take a look at the
armor plate.

It's 2 inches thick. It'll
stop anything.

- Why did you bring me here?
- Don't you want your command back?

- What's this got to do with it?
- Everything.

Tell the gentleman you'll sponsor
it to the War Department.

Why did he come to you? Why didn't
he come directly to me?

Any questions, General?
Any suggestions?

Yeah, I don't see any place
for the horses.

That's right, sir. There
won't be any.

The cavalry is a thing of the past.

The object of war is to defeat
the enemy, isn't it?

And it doesn't matter how?

No, sir. It doesn't matter how.

All right, sir. Thank you for
the demonstration.

Autie, please take another
look at it.

What for?

All right, I'll tell you.

It was Sheridan's idea. He came
to me and said:

Have George sponsor the train.
He'll get the credit for it...

and that will give me an excuse
to bring him back.

But it's useless.

The War Department will
never accept it.

They already have, General.

The contracts are drawn and
ready to be signed.

What do you need me for, then?

Sheridan's suggestion.

We're just trying to cooperate.

How about it?

War isn't just killing, you know.

It's a contest. It's a man
against a man.

That's a machine.

Personal kinds wouldn't count.
Honor, duty, loyalty.

Everything a soldier lives by
would be wiped out.

All you have left is statistics.

How many men would the
machine murder today?

Hundred, thousand, ten thousand?

If this is the future, I don't
want any part of it.

And where does that leave you?

With the Indians.

What's next on the program?

It's not a program, it's an
invitation from...


It's the officers' annual
reunion party.



That would be a good chance
to talk to him.


If you want to be a soldier.

Join the Seventh Cavalry.

Learn to fight with General Custer.

Learn to fight for Kentucky.

You must fight for Oklahoma.

Kansas, Maine, and Tennessee.

You must fight for Pennsylvania.

You must fight for Missouri.

If you want to be a soldier.

You must fight for glory, oh.

You must fight with General Custer.

You must fight for Idaho.

You must fight for Massachusetts.

Michigan and Delaware.

You must fight for Indiana.

You must fight for Ohio.

If you want to be a soldier.

Join the Seventh Cavalry.

Learn to fight for General Custer.

Learn to fight for Kentucky.

You must fight for Oklahoma.

Kansas, Maine and Tennessee.

You must fight for Pennsylvania.

You must fight for Missouri.

Listen, I'm gonna put you in
a cab. You're...

going back to the hotel.

You're not coming back with me?

No, I'll go to Sheridan's party.

Have a whisky, be one
of the boys.

Not tonight. You can talk to
him tomorrow.

No, I need a drink.


This the best table you got?

I'm afraid so, sir. Everything
else is taken.

All right, bring us a bottle
of champagne.

Certainly, sir.

When did you get here?

Six months ago, but you didn't
have time to see me.

Don't tell me George Custer's
been drinking.

I've not only been drinking.
I'm drunk.

Well, good. It's about time.

Come on, sit down.

Join the party.

Take it easy. That's not

I came here to see you.

No serious talk tonight, George.

My regiment's gotten orders.

There's gonna be another big
Indian war. Is that right?

I tried to get you back, but after
you shot your mouth...

off in Congress, I couldn't.

The President hates your guts.

Why the hell did you have to name
his brother Orville?

Who's gonna command my regiment?

I don't know.

What do you mean you don't know?
You're the one who decides.

For nine days I sat in that
congressional hearing...

room waiting for you to name me.

You didn't.

Okay, I appreciate that. I haven't

But I can't budge the President.

I never let you down, Phil.

Sixty charges I led for you in
the Civil War.

Sixty. I remember every
one of them.

All you ever said to me was,
Go get them.

I went and got them.

I never said, I can't
budge them.

Things have changed, George.

You mean you've changed.

How long has it been since you
got on a horse, had...

somebody take a shot at you?

All you do is run errands for
railroads and politicians.

You used to be a soldier.

I wonder how your scalp would
look on my wall.

You listen to me, General.

When the war ended, you came to me
for a job. I offered...

you your pick.

But you turned down everything.

You wanted action. Those were your
words: I want action.

You got it.

You got glory, too, didn't you?

That's all you ever cared about.

That's what's the matter with you,
George. You're a glory hunter.

This is a party and we're all
a little bit drunk.

So we're gonna forget everything
that's been said...

here tonight. All of it.

Maybe you're right, Phil.

Dear, I need pen and ink. I've
got to write a letter.

A letter to the President?

Any objections?

Would you like to dictate it?

Yeah, I'll dictate it.

Whenever you're ready, Autie.

To His Excellency...

the President of the United
States, etc.

Dear Sir...

I have written to you during the
past months three times...

without the courtesy of an answer.

You have refused me the interview...

which simple justice demands.

Because of your intervention,
I stand a man...

condemned. A man without trial.

Did you get all that?

Read it to me.

Sir, my regiment has
been ordered...

to join the expedition about to
move against the Indians.

I appeal to you, not as the
President of the...

United States...

but as one soldier to another...

to spare me the humiliation of
seeing my regiment...

march to meet the enemy...

and I not to share its dangers.

One soldier to another.

I think you might have done it.

Attention. Open the gates!

- Welcome back, sir.
- Thank you, Captain.

Welcome back, General.

Thank you.

Let's get right to it, shall we?
Now then.

This campaign is gonna be
a joint operation.

General Crook from the south.
Colonel Gibbons...

from the north.

Seventh Cavalry from the east.

They'll rendezvous here. Little
Bighorn, June 26.

We should have hit them three
months ago, General.

From my scout report, there's more
out there than a few hostiles.

Yes, sir. They're building up
strength every day.

The Cheyenne, the Sioux, the
Oglala, the Miniconjou.

- Give me the reports, Major.
- Yes, sir.

General, this could be their big
move to push us...

clean across the Mississippi.


But victory here at the Little
Bighorn will break...

the resistance.

This may be our last chance
to fight, Major.

You've lost a button. This
one matches.

I'll sew it on. It won't
take a minute.

Where's my needle? I had
it a second ago.

Where is it? I just had it here.

Doesn't matter.

- But it was just here.
- Dear, don't bother about it.

But it would be so simple to
sew on if I had it.

Your needle was in my coat.

Forward on!

Keep moving.

Come on.

We've covered a lot of ground,
sir. When do we make camp?

We don't, Lieutenant. General's
orders. Keep the...

troops moving.

Yes, sir.

We keep pushing at this rate...

we're gonna reach the Little
Bighorn a day before...

those other two columns.

He wants to win the war single
handed, Benteen.

He doesn't care whether he wins or
not as long as he's leading...

that charge.

General, why do you want to
get there first?

Because first is first, and
second is nobody.

When we cross the river, we'll
split into three columns.

Yes, sir.

Three columns.

Sioux. War party.

Maybe 300 or 400.

- Which way are they heading?
- They're just waiting.

- Sergeant.
- Yes, sir.

Have the men take cover in those
trees and set up a...

perimeter of defense.

Yes, sir. Take cover!

- Do you see anything?
- No, nothing.

There's about 500 Sioux behind
that ridge, waiting.

- Where's Custer?
- Hasn't shown up yet.

We'll wait, Captain. Have your men
deployed in the trees.

- Corporal.
- Sir?

- Dismiss the men.
- Yes, sir.



- Hallows.
- Yes, sir?

You wait here. I'll go ahead.

- Alone, sir?
- With a scout.

Could I go with you, sir? There
might be some action.

Hot for glory, ain't you,

You don't win a general's star
staying behind, do you, sir?

Your orders are to take over.

Unless you hear from me direct,
you do not advance...

beyond this point.

- Clear?
- Yes, sir.

Cheer up, Lieutenant.

You may get your chance for
promotion yet.

- Scout.
- Yes, sir.


You must lead your peoples back
to the reservations.

You must go back.

I have been waiting for you,
Yellow Hair.

There are three armies on the way.

They'll wipe you out.

They'll be here tomorrow.

Today is a good day for fighting.

Our fighting...

is over.

It's over, I tell you.



Guns that kill by thousands.
No horses.

It's over.

Steel. Just steel.

No men.

All this...

it's finished!

This is all over!

For the last time, then.

Sound the charge, Sergeant.
We're going after Custer.

But, Lieutenant, his orders
were to wait.

I'm in command. Sound the charge.

Yes, sir. Troops!

Your orders were to stay back,

Sir, we heard fire. It sounded like
you were being attacked.

Shape up your column. Get the
wounded in the middle.

- Hallows.
- Yes, sir.

Take a message to Reno and
Benteen. I want their...

men up here quick.

Yes, sir.

You four at the end of the column,
follow me.


We're gonna have to stand here.

Form a perimeter.

All right, give the order.


I can't tell you what's going on
out there, Captain.

He's probably met up with those
Indians he's been...

chasing so hard.

He's found what he's looking for.

Whatever happens, Captain,
it's his own doing.

He's getting what he wants.
Most of us never do.


you might say he's luckier
than you and me.

Take your hands off me, Major.

All right. Go on!

But don't you forget, Captain.

For the record...

I'm cold-stone sober.

All right, soldiers.

Hold your fire until I give
the order.


He's saving you for the last.

I know.

Don't let him take you, General.