"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
'The Sheridan Story'
There comes a time when we all – adults included – can learn a lesson from a
stranger. Well, today was one of those days!
Today, Mark was busy doing laundry on the ol’ scrub board outside when an
older man dressed
in rags came walking up to him. Mark was a bit taken aback and…I hate
to say…disturbed by his appearance. "Would you sell me a nickel's
worth of water? My bottle is plum dry," asked the stranger.
"You can have all the water you want for free. Pa and me couldn't get
the name of chargin' for drinking water," Mark answered him. Mark went to
prime the pump for water. The old fellow was astounded at the stream of
water coming out and shouted for Mark to "stop it up" because the water was
Mark assured the man the cistern out back was full up year 'round and he
needn't worry about some spilling out on the ground.
“Water sure has it over whisky when the time comes,” the old man commented
as he took a long drink. He gulped the water down. "Better take it
slow" Mark warned. "You're too thirsty."
I taught my boy good manners. He offered the man a shower bath.
“All you do is stand under it and yank the rope,” Mark explained. It was the
next thing Mark said that got the old man all riled up: “You’ll find some
soap and a scrub brush,” he offered. Of course, Mark was just trying to be
The broken-down old fellow became offended thinking Mark was putting him
down. "You stand there telling me to my face that I smell like I don't
belong with human company," he shouted in Mark's face. The man came
toward Mark, which made Mark feel quite uncomfortable. He continued
yelling at him. “Why, you squeaking little Yankee, I don’t let
nobody-don’t go sticking your head off to one side now…”
Well, about that time I rode in to see the man blaring in Mark's face.
I didn’t appreciate him talking to my boy like that, and my instincts to
protect Mark got the better of me. So, I grabbed my gun and jumped off
the horse. “What are you looking for?” I started. But then I saw the
man's disposition. He was dirty, smelly, ragged, and broken down. I
immediately changed my tone.
My sudden sympathy seemed to anger the old man. “Well, why don’t you
go and shoot me with that there rifle gun so you won’t have to feel sorry
for me,” he shouted at me. Mark made a face. I could tell he didn’t
like the man.
As I came forward, Mark gladly moved out of the way. I think he was real
happy I showed up when I did. With sympathy, I asked him to come in for a
cup of coffee. I felt it was better to show kindness rather than anger to
one so unfortunate.
Frank Blanden was his name. He enjoyed some coffee and eggs at our table.
“Ham and eggs,” he commented. “That’s the tastiest eating food the Lord ever
put on a man’s table in the garden of satisfaction.” I offered him some
Apple brandy to wash it down, but "ferment of the fruit" was "again" his
Frank offered to pay me a five-cent piece for my trouble but I wouldn't take
it. When I refused the money he asked me for a job. Mark and I both probably
had a bad look on our faces. I just wasn't sure an injured man could handle
the kind of work we had on a ranch. Blanden was sure he could do most
anything a two-handed man could do. I declined, saying it was only once a
year we took on a hired hand. I offered him a dollar
of my own to help him until he could find something else. Blanden refused it
stating, “Once a man starts taking something for nothing he ain't no man no
more, he's just charity.” He threw the money on the table. I felt so sorry
for him and what he must have faced in his life.
That’s when he turned and said, “Anyway, you can stop fumigating with that
there cigar." Frank could see right thru me. I must admit that I was
uncomfortable with his appearance.
As I watched him leave, I slowly sat down at the table. I was so
disappointed in myself and how I acted! “Gosh, I sure am glad you didn't
take him on, pa," Mark stated.
"Why?" I asked, knowing I wouldn’t like his answer.
"He makes me shiver, he's so ugly and, that arm of his!" Mark stated this.
I couldn’t believe such things were coming out of his mouth. I had to put a
stop to our attitudes right now, so at that comment I headed for the door.
"Where you goin'," Mark asked suddenly.
My response: "To try and hire the both of us a clear conscious."
"Oh, no Pa, please!” Mark begged. “Well, I can't even stand to look at him!"
“Neither can I, son, which means we’re both in worse shape then he is!” With
that, I walked out the door to talk to him.
All I had to do was call his name, and he started running from me. He
couldn’t run very well and I tried to catch up with him, causing him to
fall. “What did you run for?” I asked him.
He stated that he thought I was planning to “Put on” him. When I asked him
why, he stated, “For fun maybe!” I offered him a job at ten dollars a month
with room and board. He stated “Half pay for half a man, fair enough!” I
couldn’t believe this man! He had problems for sure.
I simply told him that “Cash is our short crop.”
As we carried in an old broken bed, Blanden stated, “And I could just sleep
right over there in that there stall!” I told him we didn’t bed men in
stalls, to which he responded, “What, are you afraid I might poison your
Blanden had an attitude for sure. The proud Rebel wasn't taking in charity
from the likes of this Yankee. He had no use of his left arm that caused him
a lot of pain, but he didn't talk about it. He didn't want any sympathy from
anyone. He'd make his own way with no help. He'd prove he was just as much a
man as any two-armed healthy man. So, I let him prove his point. He could
start proving he was a man by repairing the old bed Mark and I brought into
the barn for him to sleep on. “Broken down bed for a broken down man,” he
I didn’t want to feel sorry for him anymore. And I didn’t want him to feel
sorry for himself anymore. So I stated, “Well, that depends on the way you
When I brought the clean linens out later, he was laughing. When I asked him
what was funny, he stated, “A man as big as you raising posies alongside a
porch.” I told him it was on the count of my wife’s love of marigolds.
That’s when Blanden started talking about his wife and her dying of hunger
after he returned from the civil war. “There ain’t a night that I ain’t
minded of a sunrise fog just a laying over a stand of hardwood,” he began
reminiscing about his home back in Tennessee.
The next day Blanden got an early start on the field behind the barn. I
found Mark sitting on his horse, watching him with a grim look on his face.
"Why don't you get off and give him a hand?" I suggested. I couldn’t believe
my son was selfishly watching without working himself!
"Not me," answered Mark, "There's a nest of yellow jackets right by where
I stared at him, shocked. “Yellow jackets? You didn’t warn him?”
“I don’t like to go near him, pa!” he exclaimed. His dirt and disfigured arm
scared the boy. At that point screams came from the field. Blanden found
that nest of yellow jackets and they were in his shirt. He danced around for
a bit trying to get them out. I helped as best as I could. Blanden stopped,
thinking they were all out, but then they started up again. I had to rip
the shirt off Frank to stop the wasps from stinging him - it couldn't be
helped. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw, but I think Mark was more shocked
then I was. There stood a figure of a body, tangled and infected, an open
oozing wound. Mark rode away in disgust.
“I told Blandon to go in the house and get one of my shirts to put on. I
walked down to talk to Mark.
I found him near an old tree not far from the house. "Sorry son, but sooner
or later you had to find out," I explained tenderly as I bent down next to
"Why did I? I didn't want to," Mark felt anguish. “Pa, his shoulder wasn’t
healed!” Mark cried.
"Not only poor Blanden's shoulder, but I mean all the ugly, useless
suffering in the world. In time you'll learn to accept it and bring it into
balance with the good things." "I'll never be able to Pa!” Mark cried,
I laid my cheek next to his forehead. "You will son because you have to.
It's the price you pay on staying alive and in your right senses, it's
manhood. And I can promise that when you come to the far end of it, you’ll
raise your old hands to bless this wonderful life you’ve been given, taken
all together with the roast beef, and the moon rises, and a boy and his
father riding out in the morning, after you’re grown up to be a father
yourself.” I stood him up and dusted him off.
Suddenly, a group of what looked like Army cavalry came riding toward the
ranch in a fury. “Pa, look!” Mark exclaimed.
“Calvary patrol,” I stated.
“Look at them,” Mark said.
“The size of that white-“ I said.
“Gosh, ain’t they fine?” Mark stated.
As they got closer, I recognized General Phil Sheridan. I stood at attention
and saluted me. I had served under the General at Yellow Tavern to the end
of the war, 19th Indiana, as a Lieutenant.
General Sheridan was looking for a place to bivouac for the night and I
welcomed them to our home.
I walked with Mark to his horse. “Life sure is funny,” Mark stated.
“What do you mean by that?” I asked Mark as I lifted him up onto his horse.
“Well, Blandon and now Sheridan. One, a poor, raggedy old Private from the
Confederates, and the other a big, important General from the North. Tonight
they’ll both be staying in the same house together.” I smiled as I watched
him ride back up towards the house.
The General enjoyed the use of our home and our shower bath. I told them
there was a hotel in North Fork they may have been more comfortable with,
but I was informed that the General preferred to conduct his inspections
without fanfare. Medical Col. Stroud ask me if I had any ice. I told him no
but the hotel in North Fork does. He ask him how far was it. I told him
about an hours' ride. As I was talking to the army officers, Mark called me
over. “Blanden’s drunk!” he announced to me.
“Drunk? Where’d he get it?” I asked.
“He changed his mind about your apple brandy!”
I stood in the doorway of the barn and watched him. He was drunk all right!
In fact, he was ready to finish off my horse liniment. I stopped him and
told him he’d burn a hole in his stomach. Of course he didn’t think it
should be any of my concern. “I just wanted something to keep me warm for
the road,” he stated. I was surprised that he was planning on leaving.
Blanden stared at me in disbelief. “You ain’t expecting me to stay on the
same property with them Yankee bluecoats, are you?"
I reminded him that he was hired to furrow out the field. He was too drunk
to argue with so I put him on the bed. Frank agreed to stay as long as he
didn't have to "come within
nor smell of them Yankee Bluecoats." He thought they carried on like they
thought “they was the kings of the land.”
Later that night Sheridan shared stories of his past campaigns with his men
as they sat in the yard. Mark brought them some coffee and stopped to
listen. He was fascinate with these blue coats’ tales. Sheridan suddenly
realized Mark was there. “Son, do you think you know who I am?”
Mark smiled, proud that Sheridan had stopped to question him. He wanted to
make a big impression. “Yes sir, my Pa learned me,” he answered. “I can even
say all seven stanzas of Sheridan’s Ride:
‘Up from the South at the break of day, bringing to Winchester fresh dismay.
The affrighted air with a shudder bore, Like a herald in haste to a
Chieftain’s door. The terrible grumble, the rumble and roar, Telling the
battle was on once more. And Sheridan, 20 miles away.'
I was so proud of my boy! I listened to him recite this poem with a smile on
my face, only having to mouth him a word once or twice. Mark recited the
poem with hand motions and excitement in his voice! But after only one
stanza, Sheridan stopped him. “’Sheridan 20 miles away,’ now that’s what a
man gets for trying to serve his country. They write poems about him!”
Sheridan declared. “I wish it were true, but it wasn’t. Cause when your
front breaks, a field commander doesn’t come dashing up through the route on
a big, black horse, yelling and waving a saber. He rides forward real slow,
praying maybe, and all those scared, worn out boys has a chance to see him,
calm and sure, like a parade.”
While Sheridan was making his speech, Blanden walked in. This could get
ugly! "Howdy General, nice to see you again," says Blanden, as he proceeds
to tell the General they had met before - at Missionary Ridge.
“I was there,” Sheridan states. “How do I know you were?”
“You Bluecoats broke ranks and advanced against orders, and you come up from
the rocks with the first scramble of them. Both sides could hear you holler
over the top of the guns.”
Sheridan wanted more proof, so he asked what he had in his right hand. “A
big pistol gun.” As for the other: “The same as now.”
His men knew he was there! He told the General he was from the Confederate
States. “You stopped to have one right down in front of my rock hole. And
you were looking straight up my sites, I just couldn’t have missed.” Blanden
got really quiet. “For some reason, I…I hung fire.” Then he got angry again.
“But you never waited, though, not a snap second! You glimpsed me and right
then you blowed out my shoulder. Well, here I is.”
Sheridan felt regret. But he couldn’t remember every “Johnny Reb” he shot at
in combat. Sheridan told Blanden he was sorry for what happened. Then
Blanden announced it was the south’s turn as he pulled out a small gun. He
wanted to exact revenge on this man who had ruined his life. He was throwing
out some pretty big threats, telling the General he’d have no face “You’re a
big, wordy man, high and mighty. Well, say something now. Whatever it is,
it’s gonna be your last talking between here and purgatory.”
I naturally grabbed my rifle, ready to help out if needed, but Sheridan
ordered me not to shoot – he’d handle it.
As he lit a cigar, he asked, “What are you hanging your fire for this time?”
“To see you sweat like I sweat,” he answered.
But this didn’t faze Sheridan any. “Me? Every day of my life I do sums in my
head, Johnny. Casualty totals from every battle order I ever issued. You
expect me to be afraid of what might come out of that little hole?”
Blanden wasn’t ready to give up though. “You’re a big man. You’d like to go
on licking your gravy.”
Sheridan got angry then. “I’ve done my gravy licking, Johnny Reb. The
plate’s clean. Tecumseh Sherman shielded the Union, Grant’s left side, and
me, the spear of victory in his right hand. Can life hold anything to match
that from here in?” Sheridan asked Blandon what he would know about a fight.
“Sniveling, weak-kneed yokel, skulking in the rocks while your comrades are
dying like flies….not so easy for the Stars and Bars you fought under. You
disgraced and betrayed it.”
Blanden told him he was lying. “Who was the Johnny Reb had Phil Sheridan in
his sites and flinched the shot that might have tipped the whole balance of
the war in favor of the Confederacy? You, Johnny Reb, you.”
Sheridan’s speech got to him. “I don’t know what. I don’t think clear no
more, It’s true like you say…I…I shamed my kin. I ain’t nothin’ to nobody!”
Sheridan felt guilty. He was sorry for the things he said in anger.
“Soldier, your Johnny Reb himself. You’re born enough for a full division.”
Blanden’s self confidence was crushed for sure now. Sheridan put a hand on
his shoulder and spoke to him kindly. “Son, I know of an old white-headed
college president, name of Robert E. Lee would be almighty proud to shake
your hand.” He wanted Blanden to know that everyone got scared and stalled.
He himself had nightmares at night about the war, reliving it over and
“You rag-tailed scarecrows held the mightiest army in the history of
warfare. You held us, Johnny, to the last razor edge you were laying down.
Swords and bayonets blunted, hearts and the Union broke.” I was proud to see
that the General had helped restore some of Blanden’s confidence in himself.
He wanted to look at the shoulder
he had shot off. At Sheridan's orders Colonel Stroud, the surgeon, took a
look at Blanden's shoulder. The surgeon felt his injury could easily be
fixed with surgery but ole Frank wasn't about to go through that pain again!
Sheridan assured Frank that he would be asleep during the surgery and wake
up getting well. Blanden was agreeable to this.
Sheridan stared throwing out orders. He requisitioned a wagon and team from
me. Then he ordered some of the men to escort Blanden to the Galveston
Base Hospital, signed in as one of his own special veterans. The General's
staff thought it out of order to send a full Colonel and a Lieutenant to
escort a Rebel Private, but Sheridan insisted. "I am carrying out the last
and greatest order of my war-time Commander-in-Chief, bind up the nation's
The next morning, we saw them off. We were excited to see Blanden getting
the help he needed. I think he’ll be much happier when his shoulder is all
healed. Mark happily said goodbye to Blanden. “Be sure and come back soon
as your arm is all well,” he called as the wagon drove away. This tickled
Blanden and he promised he’d come back to see us.
I was surprised. Was this the same son that couldn’t stand to even look at
the man the day before? “Mark, I want you to tell me something honest,” I
stated as I walked up to him. “Did you mean what you just said to Blandon?”
You know, my boy never ceases to amaze me! He stated, “Pa, he got me to
thinking. Well, you was in the war too. It could have been you got his arm
all shot up.” I put my arm around him. This was another proud moment as a
Dano appeared in five episodes ― 'The
Sheridan Story' as the Confederate Soldier, Private Frank Blanden in
― 'A Matter of Faith' as Jonas Epps the Rain Maker ― 'A Case of
Identity' as Aaron Wingate, he was the man who was searching for his
long loss son, Robert ― 'Honest Abe' as Able "Abe" Lincoln,
Able suffered a mental shock during the civil war and as a
result believes he is Abraham Lincoln ― 'Day of
Reckoning' as Reverend Jamison, he was the
minister who was once a crooked outlaw.
Lawrence Dobkin appeared in four episodes ― 'The Gaucho' as Juan Argentez,
the Gaucho's father ― 'The Sheridan Story' as
General Phil Sheridan ― 'Knight Errant' as Don Chimera del Laredo, he
was the guy with the sword ― 'The
Day a Town Slept' as Ben Judson, the man who beat Micah in the
election for Marshal of North Fork.
William "Bill" Megis appeared in
three episodes ― 'The Sheridan Story'
as Colonel Cushman ― 'The Second Witness' as Deputy Phil Rogers,
Deputy that offered Lucas safe passage to Silver City when he went to
testify. We can understand why Lucas turned him down, being that his first
witness got killed while he was guarding him. The last episode he appeared
in was 'The Anvil Chorus' as Sam Benson, he's the guy that went to
get his guns from Nils when Nils was acting deputy marshal and Nils called
Alden ‘Stephen’ Chase
as Medical Col. Stroud. I'm not even gonna try & list this Cowboy's credit,
you have to see them for yourself!
Fritz Ford appeared in many episodes of
Rifleman", besides acting he was a stunt double for Chuck Connors on "The
Rifleman" along with many other TV Series/movies.
Bobby Somers — has done many of stunts in his
day. He worked with some of the best! Sadly Bobby went unaccredited in most
of his movies/shows. His list of credits is way to far to list. Please
for a list of his credits.
Although Bobby is known for his stunts, Bobby did a lot of different thing
such as Miscellaneous Crew and Acting.
was a Stuntman for "The Rifleman" in 23 episodes. Besides a
Stuntman, Jesse also performed behind the scenes as an Actor -
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director - Special Effects -
Miscellaneous Crew - Director - Camera and Electrical Department -
Cinematographer - Archive Footage.
as Colonel Cass. American character actor with a list of films and TV
Series too large to list. He helped found a theatre company in Pomona and
later joined the Pasadena Community Playhouse, where he was spotted by a
Warner Bros. talent scout looking for someone with a resemblance to Henry
Clay, for the Warner's short film "The Monroe Doctrine." He signed
with Warners as a contract player and was never without work. He played in
an enormous number of films over the next three decades, mostly in small
supporting roles. He was equally adept at playing businessmen, attorneys, or
historical figures, and was a familiar face on screen and on television for
his entire career, one of those face but you don't remember the name. He is
best know for his TV role of oil company president John Brewster on "The
Beverly Hillbillies." During the last years of his life, he was co-owner
of a popular restaurant/bar in Encino, California, called The Oak Room.
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index Page
Have you ever been watching TV or a movie and wondered who is that guy?
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
The Retired Gun