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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


John Ford's Thundering Spectacle See more »


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Did You Know?


John Wayne viewed this as a film that would allow him to funnel some of the profits into his own pet project, The Alamo (1960), which he was already in the process of casting and producing. See more »


When Major Kendall drags Miss Hunter and Lukey into the conference room in Greenbriars, Lukey drops the tray of whiskey. Sergeant Kirby, standing nearby, reacts before the tray is dropped. 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 »


The Bonnie Blue Flag
Traditional Irish tune
Lyrics by Harry McCarthy
[Sung by the Confederate column marching on the opposite side of the river]
See more »

User Reviews

...and I won't be put upon.
21 September 2003 | by IwasSquidlySee all my reviews

The "...and I didn't kill either one of them..." speech is one of my favorite Wayne moments. Plainly past his conventionality, the Marlowe character gives breathtaking short shrift to the unending pettiness and fallibility he encounters; Kirby, Kendall, congressional wannabes, reb deserters It's an exemplar of the 'Duke' personna: dubious provenance, grand stature, indomitable purpose and a trace of sentiment. I'l put it with Searchers, Liberty', and Shootist (Wallace Beery impersonation in True Grit aside) as one of his best efforts.

Ford's battle scenes are as usual patriotically free of blood and require no reflection but the imagery is great (you want to join the cavalry) and the detail outstanding. We hear the clanking of canteens and cookpots, an argument over the placement of latrines and see the only filmic presentation of the making of Sherman Neckties (warped rails). The Ford family is well represented though we miss Harry Carey Jr (and Paul Fixx must have been tied up with the Rifleman).

If we had to have a love interest, Maureen Ohara could have at least tied this to "Rio Grande" and furthered the Ford library.

Normally wonderful Bill Holden has only brief bright moments and is mostly going through the motions and hung-over here. Neither Wayne nor Ford were slouches when it came to curling whiskey but by his own admission Holden aggravated all and threatened production with reckless, drunken extracurriculae, breaking an arm falling from a bridge.

This film was an inspiration in grade school and a guilty pleasure since.

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Release Date:

July 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Horse Soldiers See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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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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