Call to Glory - part 1 — episode #40

“1875, the Civil war had been over for a decade and once again we were one nation with one capital and peace…But it wasn’t that simple.  There was another nation to be reckoned with, a nation with a heritage older than our own.  The blue and the grey had learned to live together; but the red and the white had not.”


Newspaper article:  “President Grant Makes Western Trip to Address Graduating Class.”


Jason was riding along the road one day when he saw a train coming.  He turned his horse and raced toward the train. 


On the train was President Grant.  He was reading a newspaper, and was NOT happy about the article.  Apparently it was criticizing their Indian affairs.  The man was not authorized to give reports on the conduct of his departments.


A soldier opened the door to announce “The man you are expecting is here.”


Grant greeted Jason warmly as always.  He introduced Jason to General Sheridan.  “Well now McCord, I like the way you handled that Mexican situation for me.”  Jason thanked him.  “I told General Sheridan here about it.  This affair is a little closer to home for all of us.  When you were at West Point, you had a lot to do with the cadet just a year behind you.  Armstrong Custer.”


“Yes sir.  I was assigned to coach him for his entrance exams,” Jason explained.  “We got to be good friends.  I haven’t seen him since…since I left the service.”


Grant pointed at the paper.  “Those articles there mean one of two things:  Either Custer has an honest gripe, or he’s taking pot shots at me and my administration for personal reasons.”  Jason wondered why he would do that.  “This is an election year, McCord.”  Grant reminded him that Custer was the youngest general ever to be in the army.  “Now he’s thirty-five years old…just old enough to be the youngest president in the history of this country.”


Jason didn’t understand the problem.  They knew Custer earned his stars honestly.  If he had political ambitions…”I wouldn’t care if he had,” Grant declared.  “I think somebody else has ambitions for him.”  Phil explained that someone’s apparently put a “bug” in Custer’s head that he’s outgrown plain soldiering.


“He listens to the flattery of his associates instead of the flattery of the Indians,” Grant declared then.  “He’s antagonized most of the red-skin leaders in the territory.  Right now, the Indian Treaty of ’68 is about to blow sky high, and I think Custer’s the fuse.”


“Where do I come in, sir?” Jason asked.


“I want you to go to Fort Lincoln.  Renew your old friendship.  Find out what’s stewing in his head.  See if he can still be depended on as a soldier and a commander.”


“You mean spy on him,” Jason argued.


“It’s either that or take General Sheridan’s suggestion…Send two thousand troopers into Dakota Territory.”  Sheridan declared that the killings have to be stopped.


“If you think Custer’s provoking the Indians, why don’t you transfer him?” Jason questioned then.


“Because even with his stubborn and unreasonable streaks, he’s still the best field commander in the Calvary.  That’s where he belongs.  If somebody has turned that egotistical head of his…maybe somebody he trusts…will turn it back.”


Jason’s face turned cold as he stared at President Grant.  Finally, he spoke.  “I’m sorry, Sir.  I can’t do that.”  Grant said nothing as he silently puffed on his cigar.


Just then, a band could be heard.  Jason and Grant went to look out the train window.  “Wait thirty minutes and you’ll change your mind,” Grant said.


Custer and his Calvary were on their way. 


Jason stayed while General Sheridan, President Grant and Custer talked.  “What’s wrong with the savages?  If we send in two thousand more men, it’s going to look like we’re so scared we’re shaking in our boots!”  General Sheridan told him that according to the estimate, there were already three-hundred strong patrolling the area.  “The point is they’re from different tribes.”  Custer named some of the tribes.   “They never fought together and they never will.  They’re too proud to combine.”


“Suppose they find a common leader who can combine them,” General Sheridan asked.  Custer said it wasn’t likely.  “What about Sitting Bull?  They say he’s a prophet.”


Custer snickered.  “A prophet…Well, you just remember what the Bible says about prophets, Phil.  They’re always without honor in their own land.”  Custer told Sheridan to keep his men.  “These dog eaters need a lesson, and we’re just the ones to give it to them.”


“Maybe they need a example more than a lesson, General,” President Grant pointed out.  “Maybe you’re not providing it.”


“Mr. President, you sound like we’re talking about children.  These are survivors of the stone age, they’re salvages.  They’re twenty thousand years behind our civilization!”


“Is that any reason for us to act like savages?” President Grant asked.


Custer explained some of their customs, as if Grant was aware of them already.  The Sioux chopped off heads,  another tribe cut off and collects human limbs,…Custer was bitter…very bitter.  He said there was nothing on this earth that could keep him on a reservation if he were a Sioux warrior.  “But if our policy is to put them on a reservation, let’s keep them there; and if we can’t keep them there, then let’s get rid of them!”


Grant had heard quite enough.  He assured General Custer he’d review h is report.  General Sheridan would be there to visit him soon.  General Custer saluted the President, then General Sheridan walked him out.


Jason came out of hiding.  He had a confused look on his face.  “Well, McCord?”


“Yes sir, I’ll do it,” Jason answered.


Out on the land, a woman was in trouble.  A wheel had fallen off her buggy and there was no one to help her.  Then an Indian rode up and without saying a word got off his horse and walked over to the wagon.  He motioned to her that he would lift the wagon so she could slip the wheel back on.  She nodded, understanding.


But before they could do their agreed task, someone rode up on a horse.  The man’s name was Mr. Yates.  The woman greeted him, but he didn’t say a word.  He turned and gave the Indian a hard smack.  The Indian fell to the ground.  Yates kicked him in the face.  “Mr. Yates, he just stopped to help me!” Jennie Galvin cried.


“Don’t let him fool you, Miss Galvin,” Yates declared as he smacked the Indian again.  “If I hadn’t happened along, you’d be dead right now!”  He smacked the Indian again.


Jason rode up to see Yates smacking the Indian.  “Please stop it!” Galvin was crying.  She begged for Yates to stop.  Jason jumped off his horse and attacked Yates.  They fought while the lady and Indian watched.  Jason won.  Yates grasped his saddle horn and took some deep breaths. 


Jason walked up behind him.  “Get on your horse and get out of here.”  Yates did as he was told.  Jason helped the Indian up while Galvin apologized to him for what Yates had done.  The Indian nodded at her.  They saw three other Indians sitting on top of a hill.  She thanked Jason, explaining what had happened.  She figured Yates had been fighting Indians so long that he didn’t know how to behave any other way.


“You know him?” Jason asked.


“Oh yes…He’s one of General Custer’s scouts.”  She watched the Indian boy ride up to the three Indians, then turned.  “Are you going to Fort Lincoln?”  Jason told her he was, and she was happy.  Her father was the Indian agent there.  They introduced themselves, then Jason went to fix her wagon.


General Custer was talking to someone who was in agreement with his policy.  A knock sounded on the door, and boy was Custer surprised to find Jason there.  He sure was happy to see good ol’ Jas!  Custer immediately introduced Jason to Lionel MacAllister.  Custer’s wife, Libby, was very happy to see Jason as well.  She gave him a great big bear hug!  McAllister said he had to get – had important business to tend to.  Jason followed Custer further into the house.  He passed a sign that read, “George Armstrong Custer for President.”


Custer noticed his face and asked him if he’d fallen off of his horse.  “I met one of your Scouts…Yates?”  Custer wondered what it was about.  Jason told him Yates was beating up an Indian boy about half his size.  Custer didn’t sympathize.  He thought it was good that Yates did that. 


“What are you doing in this part of the country?” Custer asked, quickly changing the subject.


Jason told him he was going to hire out to do a geological survey for gold in the black hills.  “I hear you’re keeping prospectors out of there.”  Custer assured him it was the government keeping him out.  He was just following orders.  “You were never very good at that. “


Custer chuckled.  “Yeah, I guess I wasn’t, was I?”  Jason told him he was looking for a job.  “Well, I have an idea how we can kill two birds with one stone.  We can tie a tin can on Yates and get a good scalp to go along with it.”  Jason wondered what the men would thing.  Custer assured him it was his Calvary, to run it out he wanted to.


Jason agreed to take the job.  They could meet for lunch at six o’clock at the officer’s tavern.  “I’m not an officer,” Jason reminded him.


“That’s alright.  I’m not a bachelor.”


Jennie Galvin was in the tavern talking to some officers.  She told them she’d like to go to the picnic on Sunday, but her father may have other plans for her.  One of the officers declared everyone deserved one day of rest.  Upon spotting Jason, she smiled and greeted him warmly, offering him something to drink while he waited for General Custer to arrive. 


In the back room, Yates was meeting with Mr. Hazin and Mr. Galvin.  Galvin wasn’t so sure he wanted in on “the deal.”  “You’re making plenty short changing those Indians,” Hazin reminded him.  “How many Indian agents save over $3000 on a $1500 a year salary?”  Hazin was tired of Galvin’s whining, and he had ordered Galvin not to talk to him about this in public.  “You will go when I tell you to.”


Hazin gave Galvin an order.  He told Galvin to cut the Indian’s rations down to half when they came around for their supplies next time.  “The hungrier they get…the sooner they’ll break that treaty.”


“What do you want me to tell them?” Galvin asked in horror.


“Tell them to take it up with their Great, White father!  Now, leave us alone!”


The business man, Custer’s campaign manager, in the room wanted to know what Yates was doing there.  “Feeling sorry for himself.  Custer just fired him,” Hazlin replied.


Custer’s campaign manager declared, “I can make him president.  I put two governors in office, and a handful of senators.  He listens to me.”


“I don’t care if you make him King of Romania,” Hazlin declared.  “Just make sure he leads the charge in the Sioux territory and violates that treaty.  And I’ll be right behind him to stake my claim on all that gold those devils are sitting on!”


Two soldiers in the saloon had been trying to figure out who Jason was all night.  They finally placed him as the coward of Bitter Creek.  “I wonder who let him in here!” The soldiers were upset. 


“I don’t know,” the other soldier stated.  “But I know who’s gonna show him out.”


Lieutenant Briggs walked up to Jason and Jennie.  She stood to her feet to introduce Briggs to Jason.  Jason reached out a hand to shake Briggs’, but Briggs ignored it.  “Yeah, I know who it is.  You know, you didn’t listen to the terms of your court martial very well, MISTER McCord.”  Lieutenant Briggs smiled.  “This room is for army officers only.”


“He’s a guest,” Jennie argued. 


“Walk out,” the Lieutenant warned.  “Or you’ll get thrown out.”


“You’re making a mistake, Lieutenant,” Jason warned in an even voice.  Lieutenant put his hand on Jason’s shoulder.  “Let go,” Jason warned.  But he told Jason to ‘come on.’  Jason shook Briggs’ hand off his shoulder in a stern, angry warning.  Then Jason sat back down at the table and went back to his drink. 


Suddenly, the Lieutenant threw whisky in Jason’s face.  Jason got angry.  He jumped up and punched the Lieutenant.  A fight broke out among Jason and the two Lieutenants as the two watched on.  The fight abruptly ended when Custer walked in.


ATTENTION!” Custer demanded of his soldiers.  They all quickly stood at attention.  “As you were.”


Custer walked up to Jason.  He looked over his soldiers one more time before making his announcement.  “Gentlemen, I wish to introduce you to your new Chief scout, Mr. McCord.”  Custer walked up to Briggs.  “Mr. Briggs, since you were so quick to welcome to Mr. McCord, I would like you to extend your courtesy and give him an orientation tour.”


“But sir, I…”


“-Immediately following inspection tomorrow.”  Lieutenant Briggs knew he had no choice.


Custer toasted Jason.  “Welcome to the seventh, Jas,” Custer said as the Seventh Calvary March started playing.  Then Custer sang:

We are the pride of the army,
And a regiment of great renown,
Our name's on the pages of history,
From sixty-six on down.

The officers joined in:

We are the pride of the army,
And a regiment of great renown,
Our name's on the pages of history,
From sixty-six on down.

We’ll break windows, we’ll break doors...

They continued singing as the men plotting against him listened.  “Listen...” Hazin said quietly.  “We’ve got Custer primed, and I don’t want ANYBODY wetting that fuse.”


“Don’t worry,” MacAllister declared.  “I’ll take care of Custer.”


“And I’ll take care of McCord,” Yates declared.


Jason sat by and watched Custer. He and his men certainly were proud!!!

Call to Glory ― Cast

Next ― Call to Glory - part 2

Episode Guide 1 & 2

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*Thanks to Michelle Palmer for writing this episode!

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