A man exhausted by battle Col. Owen Devereaux (Glenn Ford, 3:10 to Yuma) orders the massacre of a Confederate unit of soldiers at the end of the Civil War, despite their attempted surrender. His colleague and second in command, Capt. Del Stewart (Western legend William Holden, The Wild Bunch), is the only one aware of the surrender attempt and keeps it to himself as the two men return home to a hero’s welcome. Rewarded with an appointment as judge, Devereaux lets the power of his authority take hold, shooting from the hip and becoming more irrational by the moment. As it affects the relationship with his fianceé, Caroline (Ellen Drew) and troubles the good meaning townsfolk, it is up to old friend Del to step in and sort things out before things get out of hand.