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The Battle of Elderbush Gulch (1913)

The fact that an Indian tribe is eating puppies starts an action packed battle in a western town.


D.W. Griffith

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Credited cast:
Mae Marsh ... Sally Cameron
Leslie Loveridge Leslie Loveridge ... The Waif
Alfred Paget ... The Waifs' Uncle
Robert Harron ... The Father
Lillian Gish ... Melissa Harlow
Charles Hill Mailes ... Ranch Owner
William A. Carroll William A. Carroll ... The Mexican
Frank Opperman Frank Opperman ... The Indian Chief
Henry B. Walthall ... The Indian Chief's Son
Joseph McDermott Joseph McDermott ... The Waifs' Guardian
Jennie Lee Jennie Lee ... The Waifs' Guardian
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lionel Barrymore
Elmer Booth
Kate Bruce ... Settler
Harry Carey


On the day of the dog feast at the Indian encampment, the waifs arrived at Elderbush Gulch. Their pet pups came with them. '"Now we eat," said the chief's son, when he saw the pup's fat little hides, but he met his death instead. "The blood of the whites," cried the red men, and all on account of two small dogs, the settlement at Elderbush Gulch was wiped from the map. Yet many strong hearts lived to tell the tale, along with the dogs, the waifs and the baby. Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Exclusive Biograph Masterpiece


Short | Action | Western


Not Rated






Release Date:

December 1913 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Batalha de Elderbusch Gulch See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Biograph Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In 1972 Kemp Niver and Historical Films of Los Angeles published 'D. W. Griffith's The Battle of Elderbush Gulch,' a reconstruction of the film from frame enlargements. See more »

Alternate Versions

In the 1920s, the Aywon Film Corporation distributed a 37 minute version; the added length is due to the editing and new titling by M.G. Cohn and J.F. Natteford. This version includes extended opening credits and added intertitles in the style of 1920s titling. See more »


Referenced in Stagecoach (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

Griffith: Nearly Born
11 August 2004 | by CineanalystSee all my reviews

No other film before "The Birth of a Nation" better shows the potential D.W. Griffith could direct something of such scope than does "The Battle at Elderbush Gulch". His direction of the battle scenes here are the best precursor to those in "The Birth of a Nation", even so much as for this website to say that the later film references this one. Griffith's last picture for Biograph, "Judith of Bethulia", had battle scenes, too, but nothing was added to the grammar. It was a larger battle than the one in this film, yet Griffith didn't have the budget or time to make it grand. He was going over-budget and making a feature-length film without permission from studio-heads.

The battle scenes in this film are on a smaller scale. Within that battle, there's focus on small skirmishes via extensive crosscutting. It's brutal--an infant is tossed around at one point, which I hope was a trick-shot of some sort. There's lots of smoke. There are multiple plot lines throughout, which are interlinked fluently in the climax.

All of this creates an omniscient, unrestricted narrative. The bird's eye views of the fighting are a style still used today, although the irises aren't. Griffith and Billy Bitzer further display their mastering of camera distance with frequent use of medium shots. They hadn't figured out how to do an onrush shot yet, though, as the camera position of the cavalry is boring; they'd correct that in "The Birth of a Nation". There's the missing wall in interior shots; they'd never correct that.

As fellow posters have condemned, this film is a precursor of "The Birth of a Nation" in another way: racism. Although I suppose it is racism either way, I doubt that Griffith intended to portray Native Americans ridiculously (he clearly stated that he considered Blacks to be childlike, although he didn't agree that was racist), but rather it was the result of his lack of understanding any particular tribal culture or fully understanding film representation. Bad acting didn't help, either. Only Lillian Gish and Mae Marsh really knew what they're doing. Anyhow, Griffith's earlier short film, "The Redman's View" was an attempt to be respectful of the Native-American population, even though it's a boring movie.

(Note: This is one of three short films by D.W. Griffith that I've commented on, with some arrangement in mind. The other films are "A Corner in Wheat" and "The Girl and Her Trust".)

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