The High Chaparral

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Sunday services

Yaphet Kotto as Sgt. Major Creason

"The Buffalo Soldiers"

2.36 The Buffalo Soldiers
Tucson citizens protest when their petition to the Territorial Governor for troops to break the grip of the town boss is answered by an all-Negro cavalry unit.
Written by Walter Black       Directed by Joseph Pevney

Story Line: Sgt. Major Creason and his 10th cavalry unit establish martial law, thwarting the activities of powerful McCoy Hilliard. Hilliard considers the troopers cowards and plots to run them out of town. The Buffalo Soldiers learn John Cannon's family will be their only support when they go against Hilliard's band of hired guns.

  Guest Stars:

Yaphet Kotto
as Sgt. Major Creason

Morgan Woodward
as McCoy Hilliard

Charles H. Gray
as Lt. Beckert

Robert Doqui as Corporal Larrabee

Charles Maxwell
as MacAteer

Izack Field
as Cpl. Higgins

Don Starr
as Ollicutt

William Jordan
as Pearsall

Henry Kendricks
as Wetlow

Alfred G. Bosnos
as Cobb

Jess Riggle
as the Telegrapher

Character Highlights: Lots of horses and lots of impressive horse maneuvers in this episode.  Most of the air time is spent on the guest stars rather than the regular players.  Not exactly a docu-drama but this episode is more of a social commentary and tribute to the Buffalo Soldiers rather than a plot or character driven story built around the HC cast.  


Complete Episode Synopsis

The story opens with John, Buck, and Sam under attack at a watering hole from a band of Apaches. The men are pinned down, and it looks to be a long, drawn-out affair, when a distant bugle call is heard. The Apaches immediately break off their attack, and a cavalry troop rides over the hill. Buck is positively thrilled to see the army troop, and he's totally astonished to see they are all black. The white commander, Lt. Becker, announces they are the 10th Cavalry, Company C, otherwise called the Buffalo Soldiers. It turns out that Tucson has been held in a grip of terror for eighteen months by town bully Hilliard. In an attempt to restore law and order, a message has been sent to the U.S. Army to put the town under martial law. It has taken six weeks for the soldiers to arrive.

Sam, Buck, and John are relieved by the presence of Lt. Becker and the 10th Cavalry.

Mano stops Blue from challenging the
racial slurs of Hilliard's men.

Currently in town, a man is being tarred and feathered, and as Mano and Blue attempt to intervene, Mano gets called "Mex," which rankles both men. It is obvious that they are badly out-numbered by Hilliard's men, so they can only stand by helplessly as the victim is further humiliated. As the Buffalo Soldiers ride into Tucson at that moment, singing "Do- Dah," everyone in town stops and gapes…everyone that is, except Mano, who promptly beams and welcomes them to Tucson. Corporal Higgins goes to help the tarred victim, explaining that he himself has been tarred three or four times. He instructs the man to get the tar off with "hot coal oil and turpentine with rose water and glycerin for fragrance."

The Lieutenant tells everyone that the 10th is not there because they want to be; they are there because they have been ordered to come. He instructs everyone in town to surrender their weapons. Some of the townsfolk are nervous about having black soldiers in their midst, but the Lieutenant assures them that his men will bivouac on the edge of town, that 'black doesn't rub off…Some of my men are particular.' He makes it very clear that he is proud to be in command of the outfit, because as Sergeant Major Creason puts it, "we are the fighting-est, shooting-est, outfit in the US Army because we don't take nothing off no one."

Creason and Larrabee set up a station for the surrender of all firearms in Tucson.

The Lieutenant gets called back to the army post, and he leaves Sergeant Major Creason in charge, whereupon Buck and Sam promptly invite the whole army to the saloon for a drink.

Sgt Major Creason hold his own against Hilliard's men.

 There is an altercation in the saloon when Hilliard's toady Pearsall tries to make trouble with one of the soldiers, but the Sergeant Major easily breaks it up. It is very obvious that he is a highly capable man.

Hilliard's henchman, Pearsall,
challenges Sgt. Major Creason.

Still, everyone in town is fascinated at everything the soldiers do, and they stand around the army camp gawking. When a wagon load of supplies are delivered, the Sergeant Major comments on the gawking to John Cannon.

The Sergeant Major also notices a discrepancy in the amount of food that has been requisitioned, and Buck promptly tells him that it came from the High Chaparral. John also says that extra rations should be useful for the soldiers. The Sergeant Major gladly accepts and invites them to dinner, which Buck quickly accepts, as long as they serve something other than beef. The Sergeant Major gives a history of the Buffalo Soldiers, explaining that every man in the troop is proud of that name. He says that being with the 10th is like "a bale of cotton off a man's back." Corporal Larrabee later echoes this sentiment to Buck.

The Buffalo Soldiers demonstrate drills
at their camp outside Tucson.

Hilliard makes a deal with MacAteer,
his hired gunman.

Meanwhile, Hilliard wants control of the town back. He sends for a gunman from Santa Fe named MacAteer, whom Sam and Buck recognize from the year before when one of MacAteer's men had tried to kill Buck with "murder in the back." MacAteer and Hilliard haggle over the price of going up against the army. MacAteer promises to provide a small army of gunmen, and a couple of days later, on Sunday, while the Buffalo Soldiers are holding church services with the whole town in attendance, listening as the Sergeant Major says that the white soldiers now call the Buffalo Soldiers "brother" because they have fought for their own freedom, MacAteer heads his men to town.

Corporal Larrabee, however, has been the sentinel on duty, and he rides into camp to inform the Sergeant Major that forty or more men are riding down on them. The Sergeant Major jokingly tells John Cannon that Larrabee is "part Indian…from the Blackfoot tribe." Although John wants to set up barricades, the Sergeant Major says the 10th doesn't need any. He does ask John to get the citizens of Tucson ready to lock the gate once he's rounded up the outlaws and brought them into town. He gives "Little Indian" Larrabee an order, and Corporal Larrabee promptly complains that 'I have no part of being any Indian.'

Corporal Larrabee reports back from his scouting mission.

The Buffalo Soldiers begin their formation.

The "roundup" on the desert is classic precision cavalry work. The Buffalo Soldiers line up, charge the outlaws, and when the outlaws split their forces, the Soldiers round them up and drive them into town like a herd of cattle. John tells the Sergeant Major that he is very good at herding, and the Sergeant Major tells John that he knew they wouldn't scatter. He also thanks John for shutting the gate.

The Chaparral men admire the work of the
10th Cavalry as they leave Tucson.

As the Soldiers return control of the town back to the citizens of Tucson, everyone is proud and appreciative. Buck even salutes. The Soldiers ride out singing another of their songs.

Buck salutes the Buffalo Soldiers.

Closing Narration: "The Buffalo Soldiers of yesterday were the stuff of which legends are made and hope rekindled. That hope has been translated into action by these men, the Buffalo Soldiers of today, who carry on in the tradition of the famed 10th Cavalry, determined that the patriotic spirit of that great troop must live and must flourish so that all of us can recall and cherish the historic and continuing contribution of the Black American to the life and progress of our Nation." 

(Synopsis by Sandy Sturdivant)

For more information on the Buffalo Soldiers check out these links:

BUFFALO SOLDIERS.NET  has lots of historical information and photos as well as
information on current enactment organizations and events.

The International Museum of the Horse has an excellent history of the
Buffalo Soldiers and of the 10th Cavalry in particular.


Much of this material, including the Story Line descriptions, comes from The High Chaparral Press Kit released in 1971. The Character Highlights were written by Charlotte Lehan.  The Episode Synopses were written by members of the HC Discussion Group and are attributed at the end of each one.
Especially good portrayals of these characters

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