An inspection team visits Fort Lowell, resulting in a cloudy future for both Col. Hayes and the Gatling gun. However, an unexpected Indian attack and the actions of an aging enlisted man show that, on the frontier, experience counts far more than strict adherence to regulations.
A new army regulation makes it possible for all ranks to apply for admission to West Point, not just officers. However, Lt. Hagan doesn't agree with that at all, and intentionally makes it extremely difficult for the enlisted men to take advantage of it.
The main force at Fort Lowell is out on a mission to recover supplies stolen by the Apaches from a supply train, and most of the troops left behind are new recruits. The Apaches unexpectedly attack the fort, and the inexperienced soldiers are forced to retreat to a nearby farm. However, the farmer happens to be a former officer in the Prussian cavalry, and he sets out to give the troops the organization and motivation they need to retake the fort from the Apaches.
Trooper Grimes, a troublemaker who Capt. Adams never had any use for, is caught deliberately giving an Apache prisoner bad water. The incident confirms Adams' decision to get rid of Grimes, but Grimes doesn't see it that way.