He says his name is Tom Smith but a young man Major Adams meets on the trail refuses to join the wagon train and won't say why. When he does find out he meets an old friend and why the boy is so tortured.

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Flint McCullough (credit only)
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Daniel Morgan Benedict III (as Brandon deWilde)
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Col. Daniel Morgan Benedict II
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Major Harrison
Melinda Plowman ...
Priscilla Walker
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Doctor (as Herbert C. Lytton)
Audrey Swanson ...
Nurse Louisa
Stacy Keach Sr. ...
General Phil Sheridan (as Stacy Keach)
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Court Martial Officer

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Storyline

Major Adams and Hawks find a boy camping in a ravine as they near Fort Stoneman in hostile Indian territory. He is heading east alone and refuses to go with the train to the Fort to catch a ride east. A massive thunderstorm scares off several horses and floods the ravine. The boy escapes and comes to the train for help. Ultimately he has to go with the train to the Fort where Adams wants to buy horses but needs permission from his old commander Col. Benedict who is on a week long drunk. Adams who found the boy had been flogged soon learns he is the son of Benedict who court martialed him for stomping on the US flag at the funeral of a dear friend. His father carried out the flogging himself resulting in his mental breakdown. General Phil Sheridan is coming to inspect the Fort. The family has a long military tradition but the son wants to be a violinist. Knowing the boy's father and mother, Adams tries to explain things to the son who learns facts he did not know earlier. Written by Anonymous

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Western

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2 December 1959 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Flag desecration
27 May 2014 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Given Wagon Train and its star Ward Bond's conservative orientation this story could not have come out any other way, but I kind of feel that that some compromise in his real life would have been worked out for Brandon DeWilde.

At the same time that the Wagon Train loses about 25 horses Ward Bond also picks up Brandon DeWilde out on the plains. DeWilde has left the army and the military tradition of his family because he stomped on the American flag during a funeral of a best friend in the army.

DeWilde's father is Onslow Stevens who Bond served under during the Civil War. And remember even now as a civilian Bond is always referred to as 'Major' Adams.

This episode from Wagon Train's third season in 1959 came at a time when flag desecration was unheard of. Watching it now again I couldn't help thinking of all the student protests back in the Sixties after Wagon Train completed its run. This could never have been aired then.

I think in real life some compromise would have been found for Brandon DeWilde to have a career as a violin virtuoso and a soldier. I doubt DeWilde would have done the same as he did in the climax here.

Curiously enough there are similarities between his role here and as John Wayne's estranged son in In Harm's Way.

Interesting, but unsatisfactory Wagon Train story.


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