When Apache chief Cochise (Michael Keep) goes on the warpath, US cavalry Captain Bruce Coburn (Audie Murphy in his last starring role) and his men escort the Malones – a homesteading family which includes his fiancée Ellen (Laraine Stephens) and her younger brothers Doug (Michael Burns) and Mike (Michael Blodgett ) – to the fort at Apache Wells.
En route, Coburn has trouble with Corporal Bodine (Kenneth Tobey), a self-seeking opportunist and former Confederate who had been busted down from sergeant, still hates the Union and holds a grudge against the Captain.
The two Malone boys enlist in the cavalry and go along with Coburn on his next mission, to meet a shipment of 40
new Winchester repeating rifles and bring them back to the fort. In an Indian ambush, Mike is killed, and young Doug stands paralysed with fear.
On the way back, Bodine clubs Coburn and gets away with the guns. The other soldiers, including Doug, join him in his plan to sell the weapons to Cochise for $40,000 in gold.
Disgraced and facing a court martial – and despised by Ellen for not protecting her brothers – Coburn sets out alone to recover the guns.
With the help of Doug, who is disgusted with himself, Coburn retrieves the rifles before Bodine can lead Cochise to them.
Doug takes all but five guns in to the fort while Coburn uses the others to stand off Bodine and the Indians.
Doug leads the rescuing soldiers back to him. Ellen is waiting for Coburn, and a pardon is waiting for Doug.
The film was written by Willard and Mary Willingham. Willard has a small role in the film as a character named Fuller. Location filming took place in Red Rock Canyon State Park and Lancaster, California.
Captain Bruce Coburn