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Drums in the Deep South

Drums in the Deep South(1951)

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In 1861, Braxton Summers returns from Atlanta to his wife Kathy's plantation in northern Georgia with news of impending civil war. Kathy is nonplussed by Braxton's war talk, but when he reveals that two of his former classmates from West Point, Clay Clayborn and Will Denning, are coming to dinner, she is visibly disturbed. Although Braxton reassures Kathy that she is strong enough to face Clay, a former beau she has not seen in years, Kathy has her doubts. Kathy's fears are soon realized when Clay professes his love the moment he is alone with her and begs her to run away with him. Before Kathy can respond, her uncle, Albert Monroe, bursts in, announcing that war has been declared. Clay and Braxton immediately head off for duty with the Confederate Army while Will leaves for his home in the North. Four years later, General Johnston assigns Clay, a major, to help stop the Union Army's march toward Atlanta by leading a band of twenty volunteers to Devil's Mountain, a small, hollow peak near Kathy's plantation. With help from a farmer he is to meet along the way, Clay is to guide his men and two cannons up the cavernous inside of the mountain, then from the top, bombard the Union Army's supply train route. When Clay's unit reaches the farmer's place, however, they find him murdered. Although Clay states that he is familiar with the treacherous trail inside the peak, he cannot locate the way up. Then Jerry, an eager recruit, reports that some Union soldiers have stationed themselves at Kathy's plantation and are repairing the nearby railroad tracks. Under cover of darkness, Clay sneaks down to see Kathy, who along with her uncle, is being monitored by Union sergeant Harper. Kathy joyfully reunites with Clay, telling him that she would run away with him, despite her absent husband. Although still in love with Kathy, Clay declares that it is too late for them, as he expects to die soon. Later, after Kathy slips away from Harper and shows Clay's men to the mountain top, Clay asks her to spy for him. Kathy agrees to pass on information about Union movements, using signals sent from her bedroom window. The next day, Kathy learns from Harper that the Union soldiers are taking a train out that night and tricks him into leaving her alone so that she can signal the news to Clay. Harper catches her just as she completes her message and prepares to shoot her. Albert surprises Harper, however, shooting him before being fatally wounded himself. Alerted by Kathy, Clay's unit bombs the Union train as it approaches that night. Kathy learns that Will is the leader of the Union battalion, but does not tell him about Clay. After Will tries unsuccessfully to attack the Confederates from inside the mountain, he learns that a large naval gun, capable of hitting the mountain top from a safe distance, will soon be arriving by rail. Kathy convinces Will, who has told her that Clay, a former sailor, could have missed the war had he not come back to see her, to allow her to stay on the plantation, then sneaks up the mountain to inform Clay about the naval gun. Realizing that the only way to defeat the long-range gun is to reinforce their cannons with wire and double-charge them, Clay asks Kathy to strip the wire from her piano. Just before the gun arrives, Clay sneaks down and collects the wire from Kathy. To Will's dismay, the reinforced Confederate cannons destroy the naval gun, although Clay loses several men in the battle. With no reinforcements expected, Will orders that the mountain cavern be mined with gunpowder and the Confederates blasted from inside. Will then deduces Kathy's involvement and angrily puts her under house arrest. Kathy nonetheless learns about the mining and finally tells Will about Clay. After convincing Will to give her an hour to ask Clay to surrender, Kathy heads for the mountain. Before she reaches the top, however, a Confederate mistakes her for the enemy and shoots her. The wounded Kathy is brought to Clay, and he sends his men down to surrender. Kathy dies in Clay's arms, then he is killed when Will reluctantly sets off the explosives. As Clay had predicted, the blast causes the mountain top to crush the Union train tracks, a small victory for the South.