When Sgt. Quincannon (Victor McLaglen) is addressing the troops and warning them to "watch them words," he asks who owns a dog that had wandered over and was watching the assembled soldiers. Not receiving an answer, he concludes, "Nice dog! Irish setter!" The scene was improvised on the spot by director John Ford. The dog was an unnamed Navajo pet that had fallen asleep during the setup. Multiple takes were required because McLaglen kept blowing the line, calling the dog a "cocker spaniel."
The horse that Ben Johnson rode in this film was a famous movie horse used by many stars in many 1940s and 1950s westerns. It was a big sorrel stallion called "Steel" and was owned by Johnson's father-in-law, Clarence "Fat" Jones, who ran one of the most successful horse-renting stables in Hollywood. The horse, which was known for being very quiet but flashy, was ridden by John Wayne in Tall in the Saddle (1944) and The Conqueror (1956), Gregory Peck in Yellow Sky (1948) and Randolph Scott in The Tall T (1957). The horse made stars look like good riders and Fat Jones always insisted if "Steel" was used in a movie, the company hire every other horse used in the movie from his stable, so "Steel" was worth a fortune to him. "Steel" had his own double and the horse that Johnson rides in the galloping scenes was not "Steel" but a spectacular galloper called "Bingo". "Steel" was no movie prima donna, however. Johnson also rode him when he won his world champion calf roping title. He also rode both "Steel" and "Bingo" in Wagon Master (1950).
The exterior shots of Capt. Brittles' quarters and the building where Maj. Mac Allshard, Commanding Officer Fort Starke, has his HQ are still standing and in Monument Valley itself near the town of Kanab. The HQ building is now a museum and both are open to the public.
Winton C. Hoch filed a protest with the cinematographers' union about overtime involved in being made to shoot the lightning and thunder scenes over the troops. As it turned out, it was these shots that won him an Oscar for cinematography.
The medal Capt. Brittles is wearing during the final troop review is the Congressional Medal of Honor. Though it resembles the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) medal worn by Union veterans of the Civil War.
According to the headstones in the Fort Stark cemetery, Capt. Brittles' wife, Mary Cutting Brittles, was born September 30, 1834, and died on June 2, 1867; his daughter Anne was born February 20, 1862, and died June 2, 1867; his daughter Elizabeth was born December 4, 1860, and died June 5, 1867.
As the regiment's blacksmith, named "Wagner", is seen at work, we can hear the orchestra playing the "Nibelung"-motif from Richard Wagner's famous opera, "Siegfried". In the opera the motif is connected with the forging of Siegfried's sword.
Capt. Brittles marks each day off an 1876 calendar with no month, on which the first day is a Wednesday. That would make the month of his "retirement" as March of 1876.But it cannot be March as Custer was killed in June 1876. The calendar is wrong for 1876.