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Fury at Furnace Creek

Fury at Furnace Creek(1948)

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In 1880, tensions between the whites and the Apache Indians escalate when the whites seek access to silver deposits in the Furnace Creek hills. While Captain Walsh of the U.S. Cavalry is escorting a supply wagon train to Fort Furnace Creek, he receives written orders to proceed immediately to Lordsburg, forcing the train to continue to the fort without an escort. Once the train is inside the fort, hordes of Indians emerge from the wagons, massacre the troops and burn the fort. Later, by government decree, the Apaches are driven out of the area and the territory thrown open to white settlers. General Fletcher Blackwell, under whose name the order to redirect the cavalry escort was issued, is court-martialed, even though the written order has been lost. Blackwell's son Rufe, a captain at West Point, refuses to believe his father gave such an order. During the court-martial proceedings, it is revealed that a mining syndicate began operation the day after the territory was opened up, and would have started only after the Apache had been expelled as a result of the massacre. An outraged General Blackwell denies any knowledge of this, and collapses on the witness stand and dies. Soon after, in a Kansas City jail, gambler Cash Blackwell, the general's other son, learns of his father's death from a newspaper story, which reports that evidence of the general's guilt was reputed to be overwhelming. Upon his release from jail, Cash sets out to clear his father's name and requests a transcript of the court-martial trial. He then begins a search for the now retired Captain Walsh and goes to Furnace Creek, which has become a boom town. There he makes friends with a local character named Peaceful Jones who, as punishment for his drunkenness, is chained to a portable tree trunk. At a saloon run by mining syndicate head Leverett, Cash then finds Walsh, who has become a drunk, and introduces himself to Walsh as Tex Cameron. Later, when Walsh is framed for cheating in a card game, Cash intervenes on his behalf and Leverett hires Cash as a bodyguard. During a visit to the ruins of Fort Furnace Creek, Cash meets Molly Baxter as she tends the grave of her father, who died in the massacre. As they ride back to town, Molly, who is unaware of Cash's identity, tells Cash that she thinks General Blackwell sold out his own men. In Furnace Creek, Leverett announces that the 6th Cavalry is returning to supervise the territory. Little Dog, the chief of the Apaches, whom Leverett paid to raid the wagon train, now believes that Leverett double-crossed him. At the same time, Walsh who was also in the plot is desperate to leave Furnace Creek as he believes Leverett wants him dead. When Cash sees his estranged brother Rufe checking into the hotel under the name Sam Gilmore, he tells him that he has hopes of getting Walsh to talk. Later, at the café where she works, Molly hears from Peaceful that Cash is working for the syndicate, and decides to break off with him as she suspects that Leverett was involved in the massacre. After Rufe is recognized by an ex-soldier, Leverett assigns Cash to keep an eye on his brother. Walsh is then pursued by Artego, one of Leverett's henchmen, to Molly's café and is shot by Artego while he is writing a confession. Rufe finds the confession in Walsh's hand and learns that the captain and Leverett were involved in the massacre and that his father was innocent. After Cash tells Rufe that Leverett's men will be looking for him, he knocks him out and takes the confession. Leverett arrests Rufe for Walsh's murder, then arranges for a drunken, old judge to preside at Rufe's trial. Although Cash asks Molly not to testify that Walsh was writing when he was shot, she refuses, having guessed that Cash is Blackwell's other son. At the trial, the prosecutor suggests that Rufe came to Furnace Creek to kill the man who testified against his father. With Peaceful and Cash's help, Rufe escapes from the courtroom, but they are pursued by Leverett and his gang. While Cash acts as a decoy, Rufe sets off to take the confession to a federal marshal. Cash's horse goes down and he is shot in the thigh, but makes it to the fort. After he reveals his true identity to Leverett, Cash sets it up for Little Dog, who has been tracking Leverett, to shoot the white man. Back in town, Cash is recovering in bed when Molly brings him a newspaper with a front page story proclaiming that the War Department has exonerated his father.