Cast & Crew
While enroute to deliver $50,000 in gold to Union troops across Confederate lines, John Forrest, a Yankee captain, learns from his contact Walter Ives, a southern spy working for the North, that the war has ended. After Loomis, the U.S. Treasury agent in charge of the gold, pays Ives the $1,000 he is owed, Ives rides off and is captured by Maj. Simon Boyd, the commander of a band of Confederate raiders. Boyd orders Ives searched and after finding the Federal gold, coerces him into revealing its sources and then lynches him as a spy. Although Ives has informed Boyd that the war has ended, Boyd conceives of a plan to rob the Yankees and sends Jimmy, a young private, to offer the Northerners their lives in exchange for the gold. After Jimmy is shot down in cold blood, the Confederates open fire, and Forrest and his men seek refuge in a small farmhouse that occupies the grounds of a plantation in ruins. There they meet Alan Prescott and his embittered wife Carole, who is threatening to leave her husband because he returned from the war a "spineless man." The next morning, Boyd and his men surround the house while the Yankees pepper them with rounds from their gatling gun. In the chaos, the case containing the gold overturns, spilling the coins onto the floor and tempting the soldiers with riches. Down to their final clip of ammunition, Forrest decides to surrender, and sends Sgt. Wade outside to wave the white flag of truce. When Boyd orders his men to fire, Wilcox, a lieutenant in his command, questions his judgment and decides to leave the band. After Wade scurries safely back to the house, Forrest sends Pvt. Jensen to the barn to retrieve the reserve ammunition from their pack horses. When Jensen is gunned down, Forrest determines to go himself and puts Wade in charge. As Forrest runs into the barn, several rebels sneak up behind him. Just then, Owen Root, a Yankee soldier ravaged from years spent as a prisoner of war at Andersonville, hurls a knife into one of the rebels, saving Forrest's life. Root helps Forrest lead the pack horses back to the house and there castigates Loomis as a worthless civilian. Lusting for the gold, Carole tries to seduce Forrest, but he rebuffs her. When Forrest offers his men the choice of fighting or surrendering the gold, they vote to stay and fight. Soon after, two Union soldiers ride down the trail and encounter Boyd and his men. Carole uses their arrival as an excuse to approach Boyd and strolls out to the camp, where she assures the Yankees that all is well. After they ride off, Carole proposes to Boyd that they split the gold and promises to gain control over the house with an unnamed accomplice. When Carole returns, McLean, hungry for the gold, threatens Forrest with the gatling gun. As Root reaches for his knife, Carole knocks McLean unconscious, thus saving his life. After McLean is locked in the pantry, Carole tells him of her bargain with Boyd and promises to release him that night. Afterward, Prescott tries to reconcile with Carole, but she berates him for standing idly by while a drunk molested her. Sometime later, Boyd and his men charge the house and destroy the gatling gun with a keg of gunpowder. In the explosion, Wade and Root are wounded but Prescott still refuses to join the battle against Boyd and his men. That evening, Carole sneaks a gun to McLean and together they disarm Forrest, Loomis and the others. Although Forrest warns Carole that Boyd is an unscrupulous murderer, she waves Boyd and his men into the house. There, as Boyd coldly declares that he plans to kill them all, Wilcox barges in and states that he discovered that Jimmy was shot in the back. After Root stabs Boyd, Wilcox explains that Boyd shot Jimmy to trick his men into believing that he was murdered by the Yankees. As the rebels prepare to leave, defeated, Forrest puts them in Wilcox' custody. Forrest and Loomis then file out with the gold, and when Prescott asks Carole to reconsider, she agrees to stay with him.
I. Stanford Jolley
Julia Ward Howe
Harold E. Knox
The opening and closing onscreen cast credits lists differ in order. In the closing credits, the images of the actors appear along with their names and the names of their characters. 13 Fighting Men marked the motion picture debut of character actor Ted Knight, best known for his portrayal of "Ted Baxter" in the popular 1970s television show The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The picture was also the only feature film to be directed by Harry Gerstad (1909-2002), who previously had directed a few television programs. Gerstad, whose father, also named Harry Gerstad (1886-1966), was a cameraman on numerous silent films, received Oscars for editing Champion (1949, ) and co-editing High Noon (1952, ) and also edited 13 Fighting Men.