The High Chaparral

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Third Season
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Martha and Henry Simmons

Lt. Jason Adams and Sgt. Wilson

The Moffat place burns after cannon fire hits it.

3.72  The Lieutenant
Men of the Cannon ranch are caught in the middle of a confrontation between a neighboring rancher and a young cavalry officer determined to arrest him.
Written by Irve Tunick         Directed by William Wiard

Story Line:  When Lt. Jason Adams reveals his intent to bring in neighboring rancher Henry Simmons on a long-standing desertion charge, Billy Blue makes an ill-advised effort to warn Simmons and his daughter Martha. Resigned to giving himself up, Simmons prepares to do so but, fearing for her father's life, Martha reacts and provokes a military siege of their home.

Guest Stars:  

Robert Pine 
as Lt. Jason Adams

Donald Moffat 
as Henry Simmons

Renne Jarrett 
as Martha

Garry Walberg 
as Sgt. Wilson

Sandy Rosenthal 
as Capt. Shanks

Stuart Randall 
as Gen. Morris

Character Highlights:  The best characterization here is Don Moffat's excellent portrayal of Henry Simmons.  Against his father's wishes, Blue gives in to his desire to help the neighbors who are being unfairly treated by a novice Army officer.  Buck and Mano try to turn the situation around, but everything goes from bad to worse.  Buck, Mano, and Blue are forced to watch helplessly as the Army escalates their attacks on the Simmons until they can stand it no longer, taking a soldier hostage in order to gain entry to the house.  John meantime has been back at headquarters working through legitimate channels trying to get a reluctant general to intervene. He tells him, "There's a lot more to officering than following orders.  There's judgment and intelligence.  Otherwise they'd hand out that gold braid to the mules."  Background references here include Buck's remarks about the "Adams boy from back home", although there is no mention of where that home might have been, and his statement that "The war's been over for 10 years." 

Complete Episode Synopsis:  The story begins as the High Chaparral hands are under attack from the Apaches, who are intent on driving off the herd. As the men are firing from defense positions behind some rocks, the cavalry comes to their rescue. When the Apaches see the charging soldiers, they scatter into the hills. The leader of the soldiers is Lt. Jason Adams, and it turns out that his family are old friends of the Cannons. Blue is thrilled to see his old buddy. Blue takes the soldiers back to the ranch where they can rest up for the night. The soldiers are also packing a field artillery cannon, and when the sergeant asks where he should store it, the Lieutenant replies in a surly tone. This makes the Cannon's eyebrows go up, but no one questions it too seriously.

It turns out that the Lieutenant is in the area to arrest an Army deserter from the Civil War named Henry Simmons. This flabbergasts Big John, as he knows Henry Simmons to be a respected rancher and friend. Simmons has been ranching for ten years in Apache country. He has buried his wife and his two sons on his ranch.

Blue decides to ride over and warn Simmons that the Army is coming. He helps Henry and his daughter Martha to load up their wagon and head out toward Mexico. Buck and Mano come to understand that this is what Blue is doing, so they ride to intercept him. They catch up with the party and advise Henry to return to his ranch and give himself up to the Army…that ten years can make a difference in the way the Army now thinks.

They are all riding back to the Simmons place, when the Lieutenant and his men ride up. Martha and Henry go inside while Blue, Buck and Mano try to talk the Lieutenant into making it easy for Henry to surrender. They tell the officer that Henry will come quietly, but the Lieutenant pulls his pistol and advances threateningly upon the house. This prompts Martha into firing a rifle at the officer. With the damage now done, Henry refuses to surrender. Blue rides back to the High Chaparral for his father to assuage the situation. When Big John rides up, the Lieutenant is still taking pot shots at the ranch house. When John cannot convince Henry to surrender to the hot-headed Lieutenant, he decides to ride to the Army camp to talk to the Lieutenant's superior.
Meanwhile, the Lieutenant has called for the cannon. He is an artillery expert, and he fires on the house, coming closer and closer with each shot. This prompts Blue, Buck, and Mano to join the Simmons family in the belief that the Lieutenant won't fire on all of them. It doesn't work because the next shot from the cannon sets the house on fire. As everyone is out in the yard watching the house burn down, the General rides up with Big John. He grants a pardon to Henry Simmons, saying he is a free man and will no longer have to worry about being hunted, but Henry's house is now burnt to the ground, and he has nothing left.

As the Army mounts to ride off, the Lieutenant asks Blue if they can still be friends, that he was just following orders, but Blue has lost all capacity for understanding. He turns away from his childhood buddy and goes to stand with the Simmons family. As everyone surveys the tragedy, Big John lets Henry know that the High Chaparral will help in any way possible for the Simmons family to make a new start.  (Synopsis by Sandy Sturdivant)


Much of this material, including the Story Line descriptions, comes from The High Chaparral Press Kit released in 1971. The Character Highlights were written by Charlotte Lehan.  The Episode Synopses were written by members of the HC Discussion Group and are attributed at the end of each one.
Especially good portrayals of these characters

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