The Horse Soldiers (1959)

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    Photo with the courtesy of lasbugas[/align]

    Information from IMDb

    Plot Summary
    A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind confederate lines in strength
    to destroy a rail/supply centre.
    Along with them is sent a doctor who causes instant antipathy between
    him and the commander.
    The secret plan for the mission is overheard by a southern belle
    who must be taken along to assure her silence.
    The Union officers each have different reasons for wanting to be on the mission.

    Full Cast
    John Wayne .... Col. John Marlowe
    William Holden .... Maj. Henry 'Hank' Kendall (regimental surgeon)
    Constance Towers .... Miss Hannah Hunter of Greenbriar
    Judson Pratt .... Sgt. Maj. Kirby
    Hoot Gibson .... Sgt. Brown
    Ken Curtis .... Cpl. Wilkie
    Willis Bouchey .... Col. Phil Secord
    Bing Russell .... Dunker, Yankee Soldier Amputee
    O.Z. Whitehead .... Otis 'Hoppy' Hopkins (medical assistant)
    Hank Worden .... Deacon Clump
    Chuck Hayward .... Union captain
    Denver Pyle .... Jackie Jo (rebel deserter)
    Strother Martin .... Virgil (rebel deserter)
    Basil Ruysdael .... The Reverend (Jefferson Military Academy)
    Carleton Young .... Col. Jonathan Miles, CSA
    William Leslie .... Maj. Richard Gray
    William Henry .... Confederate lieutenant
    Walter Reed .... Union officer
    Anna Lee .... Mrs. Buford
    William Forrest .... Gen. Steve Hurlbut
    Ron Hagerthy .... Bugler
    Russell Simpson .... Acting Sheriff Henry Goodbody
    Althea Gibson .... Lukey (Hannah Hunter's maid)
    Sarge Allen .... Union officer (uncredited)
    Danny Borzage .... Ned (uncredited)
    Richard H. Cutting .... Gen. William T. Sherman (uncredited)
    Fred Graham .... Union soldier (uncredited)
    Sam Harris .... Passenger to Newton Station (uncredited)
    Stuart Holmes .... Passenger to Newton Station (uncredited)
    Stan Jones .... Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (uncredited)
    Fred Kennedy .... Soldier (uncredited)
    Roy Kennedy .... Wrangler (uncredited)
    Jack Pennick .... Sgt. Maj. 'Mitch' Mitchell (uncredited)
    Charles Seel .... Newton Station bartender (uncredited)
    Jan Stine .... Union General (uncredited)
    William Wellman Jr. .... Bugler (uncredited)

    Writing Credits
    Harold Sinclair (story)
    John Lee Mahin (screenplay) and
    Martin Rackin (screenplay)

    Original Music
    David Buttolph

    William H. Clothier

    Jim Burk .... stunts (uncredited)
    Everett Creach .... stunts (uncredited)
    Chuck Hayward .... stunts (uncredited)
    Tom Hennesy .... stunts (uncredited)
    John Hudkins .... stunts (uncredited)
    Fred Kennedy .... stunts (uncredited)
    Cliff Lyons .... stunts (uncredited)
    Dean Smith .... stunts (uncredited)
    Ted White .... stunts (uncredited)

    John Ford suspended location filming in Louisiana after Fred Kennedy was killed performing a riding stunt. The film was later completed in California.

    The film marked the beginning of mega-deals for Hollywood stars. John Wayne and William Holden received $775,000 each, plus 20% of the overall profits, an unheard-of sum for that time. The final contract involved six companies and numbered twice the pages of the movie's script. The film, however, was a financial failure, with no profits to be shared in the end.

    The film is based on the true-life raid by Col. Benjamin Grierson who, as shown in the movie, began his expedition--known as Grierson's Raid--from LeGrange, Tennessee, in April of 1863.

    When John Wayne (Col. Marlow) first meets William Holden (Maj. Kendall), he accuses him of being out of uniform because he is not wearing his sidearms. In that particular scene, Marlow is wearing a cavalry sword. But throughout the rest of the film, Marlow does not wear any sidearms. Even when the Confederate forces are charging through the street and one of his junior officers offers him a pistol, he waves it off.

    The quote at the Greenbriar dinner, "And yet your fair discourse hath been as sweet as sugar making the hard way sweet and delectable" is from "Richard II", Act II Scene 3 by William Shakespeare.

    Director John Ford's only feature film set during the Civil War, although he did direct a segment of How the West Was Won (1962) that was set during the Civil War.

    * Anachronisms: Union soldiers are using Springfield breech-loading carbines, but these didn't appear until at least 1871, five years after the war's end.

    * Anachronisms: Although the film takes place in 1863, Dr. Kendall is shown boiling surgical instruments to prevent them from infecting patients, a process that was not developed until 1879, by Dr. Louis Pasteur.

    * Anachronisms: At the film's end, Dr. Kendall tells Col. Marlowe that he has decided to stay behind with the wounded Union soldiers. Col. Marlowe replies, "Even if it means Andersonville [a notorious Confederate POW camp]?" Andersonville did not exist in 1863, when this film was set; it was established in 1864.

    * Continuity: When Doc Kendall examines the soldiers in line, he walks from left to right. When he is seen from behind the soldiers, he is walking the opposite way.

    * Continuity: When Col. Marlowe asks a soldier for Maj. Kendall, his neckerchief knot is under his chin. When he enters in the colored people's shack, where Maj. Kendall is, his neckerchief knot is turned to his left shoulder.

    * Continuity: When Doc Kendall is examining Dunker's leg, there is a soldier holding a lamp with his left hand. Between shots the lamp is in his right hand.

    * Continuity: Deacon Clump talks to Col. Marlowe holding his hat in front of him. In the next shot, when Marlowe leaves, his hat is in his head.

    * Anachronisms: The Confederate flags used in the movie are Army of Tennessee pattern and did not come into use until March of 1864.

    * Factual errors: The 1st Michigan Cavalry Regiment served in the Eastern theater in 1863, most notably in the Army of the Potomac during the Battle of Gettysburg, and so would not be in a brigade within General Grant's army.

    * Anachronisms: The saddles used on the horses are a mix of "Western" style and Army "McClellan" saddles. However, the McClellan saddles used are brown and of the 1904 pattern, whereas the 1859 McClellan that was in use was a black saddle.

    * Continuity: In the hotel bar at Newton Station Col. Kirby breaks a bottle of whiskey tucked in the front of Sgt. Kirby's trousers . The trousers are already wet from a previous take.

    * Factual errors: The film is set in the Spring of 1863 as part of Grant's campaign against Vicksburg, which fell on July 4, 1863. The soldiers discuss their fear of being captured and sent to the notorious Confederate prison at Andersonville, the construction of which started in December, 1963.

    * Factual errors: Although listening through stove pipes at Greenbriar helped move the plot along , it was merely a contrivance . Southern plantation houses at that time were not heated by cast iron stoves but by wood-burning fireplaces through chimneys at each end of the house.

    * Anachronisms: Early in the movie, Ken Curtis is shown playing a fretted banjo. Frets were not added to banjos until the 1880s. When they were first added, most players tried to file them off.

    * Anachronisms: Although the story is set in 1863, all the soldiers are wearing 1872 pattern cavalry uniforms.

    * Factual errors: The Jefferson Military Academy was fictitious. The scene was filmed at the old Jefferson College campus. The civilian college was closed during the civil war.

    * Factual errors: The national flag seen in the opening scene is incorrect. Either a cavalry guidon with the national colors or a square flag would be more correct for a cavalry regiment.

    * Crew or equipment visible: In the house at Greenbrier after Major Kendall, Miss Hunter, and Lukey come down the stairs, shadows are visible on the landing above and behind them. The shadows are not in line with any visible light source, suggesting the presence of a spotlight hidden behind the chair at the right of the scene.

    * Anachronisms: At the end of the officers' conference Colonel Marlow states; "No glory hunting Richards. Anything knock this into a cocked hat it'll be a firefight." The term "firefight" did not come into use until the end of the 19th century.

    * Anachronisms: In the scene where Sgt. Kirby is about to shoot the head of the Jefferson Military Academy, he referred to the Reverend as a "Holy Joe". The term did not come into being until approximately 1875.

    * Anachronisms: In many scenes, Hannah is clearly wearing a bra, a garment invented in the 1890s and finally patented in 1913. Moreover, her bras are the "pointed" style popular in the 1950s.

    * Factual errors: The movie exteriors appear to have been shot in the fall, but the raid takes place in April 1863.

    * Continuity: When the rebels from the train charge up the street the flag bearer is shot and a man with a beard and green jacket picks it up. Shortly after wards the flag bearer is in shot again but its a younger man and the man with the beard and green jacket picks it up again.

    * Anachronisms: The artillery guns shown in the last two battles (military academy and bridge crossing) are not Civil War era pieces, being far too old.

    * Anachronisms: At the beginning of the engagement with the boys from the military academy, Colonel Marlow orders "Assembly" be sounded. It is clear from the immediately preceding shot, that many of the troops are not only not mounted, but the horses are not even saddled. Therefore, the correct bugle call would have been "Boots and Saddles".

    Memorable Quotes

    Filming Locations
    Alexandria, Louisiana, USA
    Homochitto River, Mississippi, USA
    Jefferson Military College - Highway 61, Washington, Mississippi, USA
    (cadet school)
    Louisiana, USA
    Mississippi, USA
    Natchez, Mississippi, USA
    Natchitoches, Louisiana, USA
    Texas, USA
    The Lot - 1041 N. Formosa Avenue, West Hollywood, California, USA
    Washington, Mississippi, USA

    Previous Discussion:-
    Question About The Horse Soldiers

    Watch the Trailer



    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 12 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • The Horse Soldiers is a 1959 DeLuxe Color war film, set in the American Civil War,
    directed by John Ford, starring John Wayne, William Holden and Constance Towers.
    The film was based on Harold Sinclair's novel of the same name.

    The team of John Lee Mahin and Martin Rackin
    both wrote the screenplay and produced the movie.

    The movie is based on the true story of Grierson's Raid and the climactic Battle of Newton's Station,
    led by Colonel Benjamin Grierson who, along with 1700 men, set out from northern Mississippi
    and rode several hundred miles behind enemy lines in April 1863 to cut the railroad
    between Newton's Station and Vicksburg, Mississippi.
    Grierson's raid was part of the Union campaign, culminating in the Battle of Vicksburg.
    The raid was as successful as it was daring, and remarkably bloodless.
    By attacking the Confederate-controlled railroad it upset the plans
    and troop deployments of Confederate General John C. Pemberton.

    What I can't work out is this??
    John Ford made FOUR cavalry films,
    but we only ever hear of a trilogy!!!
    In my mind, The Horse Soldiers was the other one!!
    I've always liked this one,and is high amongst my favourites.
    In fact since this film, I have always been wary of stoves in the lounge!!!

    The film started off well, and was pushed along by Uncle Jack's enthusiasm, for Civil War films.
    However, sadly, the film falls away towards the end, as Jack lost interest,
    due to the untimely death, in the making of the film, of one of his stuntmen, of some 25 years.


    This is noticeable in detail, and as screenwriter Mahin, quoted,
    It was awful,they charged across that damed bridge,, and not one guy fell off the saddle

    I still, rate this film, as one of my favourites

    User Review

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 2 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Hi Ethan

    I have just been typing a long list of my thoughts on the Horse Soldiers when my computer crashed and I lost the lot. I am trying again but may confine it to small individual segments.

    As I initiated this topic I thought it was about time that I put my two cents worth in.

    I read The Horse Soldiers when I was about fourteen or fifteen and thought it would make a great picture.

    The role of Kendall in the book is very minor if he is mentioned at all, The scene in the cabin is mentioned but the doctor is not allowed to deliver the baby as Marlowe orders him to rejoin the column leaving the woman to her own devices.

    Also in the book as in the film Marlowe splits his command but not as in the film to send it back North to deter the rebels. In Sinclairs book the second column controlled by a Major Bryce, (I think that was his name) runs parrall with Marlowe's and alternate chapters detail each columns progress, a fact that Ford would have had a nightmare with over continuity.

    More later

    Walk Tall - Talk Low

  • The Horse Soldiers is in my JW top ten :D

    A very enjoyable Western, I like William Holden also!


    Windage & Elevation Miss. Langdon Windage & Elevation

  • Hi

    One scene from the book that I was convinced Ford would show for both spectacle and comedy. occurs when the soldiers are burning a bridge at Newton Grange station and decide to run a train over it. A soldier volunteers to drive the train intending to jump out at the last minute. However as he makes ready to jump he stands on a shovwel which in true Chaplin style rises up and hits him in the face. As he staggers to his feet the train goes over the edge.

    For my opinion of the film I though it was a good film - not a great one but a good one for all of that. it was to be Ford's great civil war picture the one that he had always wanted to do, he even promised the producers that he would get Duke to star in the film and dragged him out of another office to perduade him to take the part. For whatever reason I think he failed.

    When the soldiers ride into Newton Grange you see a group of confederate soldiers sitting on some steps by the hotel or the saloon. I was convinced the actor bald headed and sitting out in front was Dean Jagger, which is ridiculous because by the time the Horse Soldiers was made Jagger was a star in his own right.

    During the making of the location shots Ford had a strict no drinking policy, which drove both Wayne and William Holdien to despair. Under the pretense that Duke's teeth were showing up slighty yellow on the rushes both actors were allowed to go to the nearest town to visit a dentist. The next mornin g Marty Rackin one of the producers drove into town to pick ayne and Holden up and worried that Ford might be angry drove fast back. Wayne turned to rackin and said slow down Marty because whatever happens you're only goint to get third billing.

    More later

    Walk Tall - Talk Low

  • Hi

    The death of Fred Kennedy certainly hit Ford hard, Kennedy was proably past his best and as it was nearing Christmas Ford only gave him the part to give him a little extra cash for Christmas.

    After Kenedy's death Ford lost all feeling for the film and rather than stage the up beat entry into New Orleans he finished the film at the bridge.

    Now for what I find to be an interesting point, As the rebels get ready to decamp from the train Wayne gives his pistol away saying that he doesent need it. By the time they have crossed the river and are attacking the rebel gun battery he has recovered it and is seen firing it although to what effect isn't seen, and it is this what I find interesting.

    Some years ago I wrote a letter to Tim lilley in The Big Trail argueing that in his films where he fought indians far from being the cold blooded shoot em up villain that he was depicted as he rarely used his guns at all.

    I also believe that if a study was done it would be interesting to see how many times he actually does inflict casualties with either rifle pistol or sabre. I would bet a pound to a penny that it isn't many. I would appreciate your thoughts on this.



    Walk Tall - Talk Low

  • Hi Keith and Arthur,
    Great posts! Thank you for them.
    The Horse Soldies is a big favorite of mine and it was a first Duke's picture I saw (the same about Ford). It impressed me greatly and from that point all started. So I cant be critical of objective to that movie, I only love it.
    It is very interesting pint that you mentioned Arthur, about using the guns and showing violence - Marlow are deeply sorry about all force he must do and during rebel attack he cried: I didn't want it...
    And they are very good with Holden together - I like their lines, their crossings..
    Even you were born...
    I want to read original book, even if it is very far from the movie.

  • Quote

    Originally posted by john chisum@Dec 23 2005, 12:09 PM
    The Horse Soldiers is in my JW top ten :D

    A very enjoyable Western, I like William Holden also!


    If you like William Holden, I also suggest when possible, for you to watch Alvarez Kelly which also stars Richard Widmark. Great Civil War Western.

    Es Ist Verboten Mit Gefangenen In Einzelhaft Zu Sprechen..

  • Hi Carl,
    It is strange thing about Holden. I like him very much in The Horse Soldies but in the other films that I watched with him I wasn't so impressed.

  • Althea Gibson...(Lukey)

    Guess I have to get out more...this thread inspired me to watch the movie again, and subsequently do a little research on Althea Gibson. Wow, what a gal. She broke the color barrier in tennis, and won 11 majors in the late '50's, including Wimbledon and the French Open. After that, she took up golf and joined the LPGA, playing in 171 events. She also went on tour with the Harlem Globetrotters. Her acting career was actually very limited. There is a good website on her career if anyone wants more info.


  • Hi gr1087,
    Thank you for that interesting information. I didn't knew it before.

  • Hi John Chisum,

    Please voice your concerns to the mod team. We all know your feeling towards ethanedwards. If anything is "copied & pasted" from other sources then those sources need to credited along with the repost.

    Ethan, please credit any information derived from other sites when adding to the thread.

  • Bing Russell was the father of Kurt Russell, who has become more famous than his father. Bing Russell was very recognizable, even if his name was not readily recalled.
    Cheers - Jay :D

    Cheers - Jay:beer:
    "Not hardly!!!"

  • Both of those entries in question ARE attributed to Imdb....not really an issue I don't think.


  • Quote

    Originally posted by Jay J. Foraker@Dec 27 2005, 04:37 PM
    Bing Russell was the father of Kurt Russell, who has become more famous than his father. Bing Russell was very recognizable, even if his name was not readily recalled.
    Cheers - Jay :D


    Hi Jay,
    Thanks, I think your snippet of information, is really interesting,
    I will make a point of looking closer the next time I watch the film!

    Best Wishes,

    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • Hi,
    I noticed from THE SEARCHERS thread,
    that members are also interested in the secondary/stunt men,
    although, I personally think, in most cases, they should all be credited!!


    Jim Burk .... stunts (uncredited)
    Everett Creach .... stunts (uncredited)
    Chuck Hayward .... stunts (uncredited)
    Tom Hennesy .... stunts (uncredited)
    John Hudkins .... stunts (uncredited)
    Fred Kennedy .... stunts (uncredited)
    Cliff Lyons .... stunts (uncredited)
    Dean Smith .... stunts (uncredited)
    Ted White .... stunts (uncredited)

    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • Memorable Quotes

    Major Kendall: Look here, colonel, I didn't ask to be assigned to this mission...
    Col. John Marlowe: Kirby, you tangle with me, I'll have your hide.
    Sgt. Maj. Kirby: You're welcome to that too sir, if it's in the line of duty.

    Major Kendall: Now come off it Colonel, even you were born.

    Miss Hannah Hunter: They'll catch up to you and cut you to pieces, you nameless, fatherless scum.

    [After Marlowe gets slapped]
    Major Kendall: I suggest you see a doctor.


    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • Superb movie that is one of my favourites. Great storyline action and Grade A cast.

    In terms of Cavalry movies made by Ford I would rate this higher than Rio Grande or Fort Apache.