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In the 1870's, Lieut. Curtis McQuade, a headstrong, inexperienced officer, arrives at the remote cavalry post of Fort Canby in Arizona. Almost at once he is in trouble with the garrison commander, Capt. Stephen Maddocks, a hard-bitten veteran Indian-fighter who resents the younger officer's brashness. Curtis creates further trouble by rekindling his former romance with Tracey Hamilton, who is staying at the fort with her fiancé, Lieutenant Gresham. One day Gresham, who has learned of the affair between Curtis and Tracey, fails to return from a scouting party. Curtis accompanies Maddocks on the search and is horrified to discover Gresham and his men massacred by Indians. Shocked into the realization that his reckless behavior with Tracey may have caused Gresham to lose control of his wits, Curtis redeems himself by acting as the decoy with which Maddocks hopes to draw the attention of the marauding Apaches. Alone with their backs to a cliff, Curtis and a handful of his men await the onslaught. When the Indians attack at dawn, Maddocks and his troopers charge into the clearing and wipe them out. In the fighting, however, Maddocks' only close friend, Sergeant Rodermill, is killed by an Apache arrow. When Curtis returns to Fort Canby, he finds Tracey boarding the eastbound stage. As he says goodby to her, he realizes that Maddocks' credo--"Bachelors make the best soldiers, all they have to lose is their loneliness"--is the only correct philosophy for a true military man.