Bart and Bret are traveling through Colorado with Dandy Jim Buckley, and are forced to hole up in a cabin when the flooding starts. Jim reminds them that he wanted to go to Texas because it's dry there, and realizes that the Mavericks are hiding something about Texas. He suggests that they tell him what happened in Texas, and they say that they're wanted there for murdering two men.
Bret and Bart are Johnny Robs after the Civil War, and join the Union Army as Indian hunters to avoid going to prison. The brothers arrive in their hometown of Little Bend with big plans. Union soldiers control the town, and the Mavericks go into the saloon. The owner, Jessie, recognizes them and the brothers show him the paper for $1,650 that Jessie's father owed them. He pays them up... in Confederate money. They point out that they deposited Confederate gold, and Jessie points out that there's no mention of the note. They say that Jessie Sr. wrote it down in their ledger and ask to look at the books. Three of the customers come over and attack the Mavericks, and Jessie runs in the back.
Bart and Bret defeat the men, and Jessie comes back out and says that he sent for the Union army lieutenant. He points out that they no longer have the receipt, and Laura Miller speaks up and says that she saw the whole thing and can testify that the Mavericks had a receipt.
When the Army lieutenant arrives, Jessie pays off the Mavericks and asks if they'd like to sell their spread for twice the $1,650. Once he goes, Bret thanks the Army lieutenant for his help. They realize that Laura has left, and the lieutenant says that Laura came there four years ago with her father. The Mavericks are both smitten with Laura, and notice that she left a note saying to be there at her place at 8 that night.
At their hotel room, Bret and Bart cut cards to see who will visit Laura. Bret wins, gets a shave, and goes out to the Miller ranch bearing flowers. Bart is there and waves to Bret, and when Laura goes to put the flowers in water. Bart reveals that he knows Bret crimped the cards to win the cut. Laura returns and says that she wants to hire both of them as trail bosses on a cattle drive.
The Mavericks quickly excuse themselves, and Laura says that Jessie is out to grab all of West Texas and she saw a map of the properties at his house. She explains that she saw the map the night she went to kill him, and that Jessie murdered her father but nobody saw it happen. A week after her father died, she went to Jessie's place with a gun. Laura saw the map, which showed that Jessie was buying up five thousand square miles. Both their spreads were on it, but Jessie had it all labeled his spread. Jessie came back but she didn't have the courage to shoot Jessie in the back. She begs the Mavericks to help her because she needs money to buy the land before Jessie does. She can settle the cattle for $80,000 at Fort Adobe near Arizona Territory. Bret points out that there are 500 miles of Comanche between them, and offers them $8,000 to take the job. Laura admits that everyone says that it can't be done, but figures that they need each other or Jessie wins. Bret explains that they want to work and fight for themselves after five years, and Bart agrees. She warns that there isn't time and they have to get there first, but the Mavericks insist that they have to think about it.
The Mavericks ride out to their spread and two men bushwhack them.
Later at Laura's ranch, the two bushwhackers--Jim Hazlit and Miguel--give Laura the Maverick's money. Once Miguel leaves, Jim tells her that now she can keep the money. Laura tells Jim that she's trying to make the Mavericks fight their own fights. Jim grabs her and kisses her. When she draws back, Jim tells her that there's nothing left in her but revenge. He wants his woman back and Laura tells him that he'll have to wait. As Jim goes, Laura asks him if he's walking out on her and Jim says that he wishes he had the guts to.
The Mavericks explain that they didn't know it was Laura at the time, but they confronted Jessie and he said he knew nothing about it. They had no choice but to work for Laura.
Bret and Bart recruit hands from the Johnny Rebs in Little Bend, warning that it won't be easy. Jett and his two men ride up and Jett says that the Mavericks are "Galvanized Yankees". Bart asks which Confederate outfit Jett fought with, and Bret says that Jett didn't have an outfit. They admit that they joined the Union to stay out of a prison, and they fought Indians. Jett isn't impressed and the Rebs disagree on whether to work for the "turncoats" or not. Most of them agree to hire on, and tell Jett that if he tries to run the Mavericks out they'll shoot.
Bret yanks Jett off of his horse and tells that he can either shoot, fight, or turn tail. When Jett says that they have guns backing them, Bret tells Bart to shoot anyone who interferes. The Rebs agree to work for the Mavericks and Bart tells them to be ready the next day.
That night, Jett and his men ambush the Mavericks when they leave their hotel. The brothers take cover and return fire, and a tall man passing by helps them. Bart kills Jett's men, and the sheriff comes over and asks what happened. The tall man has slipped away and there's no witness to back up the Mavericks' story.
The next day at Laura's ranch, Laura tells the Mavericks that Jessie is claiming the Mavericks murdered the men, and the lieutenant is on his way to arrest them. Bret and Bart ride out and will join up with the drive later. They ride back into Little Bend and try to find the tall man, and learn that he left on a wagon train heading north west. They flip a coin and Bart provides the coin. Bret wins the toss, and Bret says that he'll tag along behind the drive in case the lieutenant and his men ride with the drive.
The drive heads to Fort Adobe and the lieutenant and his man stay with it. Bret follows the Army men, and after six days they head back to Little Bend. When Bret joins the drive, he tells Laura that Bart will join them later. Jim curries his horse and secretly glares at Bret.
Bart rides eight days northwest to find the wagon train. He finds Indians attacking the wagons, and once they leave he checks the wreckage and discovers the tall man isn't among the dead. A few wagons got away and Bart figures the tall man is with them.
The drive makes camp for the night, and Bret sees Miguel polishing his boots... that he saw on one of the bushwhackers. When he grabs Miguel and demands the money, Laura comes out and tells Bret to leave Miguel alone. She says that Miguel robbed Bret to force the Mavericks to work for her. Jim intervenes and when Bret figures he was the other bushwhacker, punches him unconscious. Laura reluctantly gives him the money but refuses to apology. Bret says that he'll stay anyway for 25% of the take. Laura finally gives in and tells Jim that Bret had a right to do and they have work to do. Bart rides into camp and tells him that Jessie is driving 2,000 head to Fort Adobe.
The cabin floods, and Bart tells him that he found one of the wagon train survivors told him that the tall man was heading to Fort Adobe.
The Mavericks push the drive to get to Fort Adobe before Jessie. Two days out from Ford Adobe, the drive takes their first real break. Jessie approaches the camp and asks to talk to Bret about the two murdered men. Bret agrees and Jessie warns him that he's not alone. He doesn't want to lose the race but is because of Bret. Jessie explains that he filled out a disposition before he left. Bret refuses to deal, and Jessie insists that he can beat the Northern carpetbaggers while Bret and Laura can't. He offers Bret twice the 25% they're making from the drive but Bart still refuses. Bret figures that Jessie will try to stop them by stampeding the herd.
Bart rounds up some volunteers to check for Jessie's men. They spot Jessie and a dozen of his men heading their way, and Jessie and his men follow them as they ride away from the herd. Once they lead Jessie far enough away, Bret and his men leave their horses and take to the rocks. The other side does the same and the two sides open fire. Jim covers Bret as he tries to get above them. Jessie spots him and opens fire, and Jim shoots him and calls to Bret that Jessie is down. Bret has his men hold their fire and lets Jessie's men get out because they have nothing left to fight for. The men finally leave, and Jim discovers that Jessie is still alive but pretty bad. Jessie asks Bret to take him to a doctor. When Bret wonders why he should, Jessie promises to tell the truth about the killing.
Two days later the drive arrives at Ford Adobe. Jessie has held on but the infirmary doctor tells Bret that he can't save Jessie. Bret insists on talking to Jessie and having the doctor there to hear Jessie's testimony. Jessie tells Bret to hang and dies.
Later, Bret pays off the Rebs and Laura says that no one will press murder charges against Bret. He doesn't feel like taking a chance, and hopes that Bart will have found the tall man. Jim offers to help, but Bret figures that he should stick around and look after Laura. The two men shake hands and Jim leaves, and Laura impulsively kisses Bret before she leaves with the others.
As their cabin floats away, Dandy Jim asks what the Mavericks will do if they find the tall man. They explain that they do look for him... occasionally. Dandy Jim promises not to notice the tall man if he sees him.
Written by Gadfly on Aug 11, 2019