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The Horse Soldiers (1959)

Approved | | Adventure, Romance, War | July 1959 (USA)
1:23 | Trailer
In 1863, a Union outfit is sent behind Confederate lines in Mississippi to destroy enemy railroads but a captive southern belle and the unit's doctor cause frictions within ranks.


John Ford


John Lee Mahin (written for the screen by), Martin Rackin (written for the screen by) | 1 more credit »
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Col. John Marlowe
William Holden ... Maj. Henry Kendall
Constance Towers ... Hannah Hunter
Judson Pratt ... Sgt. Maj. Kirby
Hoot Gibson ... Sgt. Brown
Ken Curtis ... Cpl. Wilkie
Willis Bouchey ... Col. Phil Secord
Bing Russell ... Dunker
O.Z. Whitehead ... Hoppy Hopkins
Hank Worden ... Deacon Clump
Chuck Hayward ... Union Captain
Denver Pyle ... Jackie Jo
Strother Martin ... Virgil
Basil Ruysdael ... Commandant
Carleton Young ... Col. Jonathan Miles


A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind Confederate lines in strength to destroy a rail/supply center. Along with them is sent a doctor who causes instant antipathy between him and the commander. The secret plan for the mission is overheard by a southern belle who must be taken along to assure her silence. The Union officers each have different reasons for wanting to be on the mission. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


John Ford's Thundering Spectacle See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The scenes along the river at the bridge were filmed alongside Cane River Lake at Natchitoches, La. After filming one afternoon, two filthy mud-spattered actors were spotted window shopping in front of a local shoe store. One of the ladies working there asked the owner to call the police to shoo away the vagrants, who were in fact John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. See more »


After Dr Kendall delivers a baby, this doctor who talks about germs (as in making sure to have latrines down stream from where the men drink) walks over to the drinking water barrel used by the family in the shack - and washes his hands in it. After delivering a baby. See more »


Miss Hannah Hunter: [military cadets have opened fire] What are you going to do now *Mister* Col. Marlowe?
Col. John Marlowe: With all due respect, m'am, I'm gonna get the hell outta here.
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Mavericks (1990) See more »


I Left My Love
by Stan Jones
See more »

User Reviews

Much Underated
20 April 2002 | by schappe1See all my reviews

For some reason, many critics and John Ford fans underrated this saga of the Grierson raid of 1863, in which 1700 Union cavalrymen galloped from Illinois to New Orleans to divert Confederate attention from Grant's Vicksburg campaign. I think it's one of Ford's best films, ranking with his Cavalry Trilogy. The action scenes are the best in any Civil War films and John Wayne's performance is perhaps the best of his career. I don't have any problem with the love story. William Holden is the same cynical character he is in so many films, (this was just two years after "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and here he is back in a war movie- one that ends with a bridge blowing up!). The sequence with the military academy is great. In the real battle of New Market, the Union forces did not spare the VMI cadets, who would have been older than these boys and were part of a larger Confederate force.

One of the last scenes in the film contains tow forgivable historical errors. Dr. Holden is seen boiling his utensils. He tells Wayne that he is staying behind to care for the wounded even if it mean capture. Wayne asks "Even if it means Andersonville?" Holden answers "yes". Pasteur didn't determine the cause of infection until 1879. More Civil War soldiers died of their wounds after battle than during the battles precisely because Civil War doctors did not take the precautions Holden is shown taking here. The Andersonville prison camp was founded in February, 1864, to alleviate overcrowding at Libby Prison in Richmond and to remove the captees from the front lines. It didn't exist at the time of the Grierson raid. Obviously Ford and his writers felt Andersonville would raise an image of horror in the viewers that underscored the sacrifice Holden is making by staying.

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Release Date:

July 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Horse Soldiers See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Color by Deluxe)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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