Joel McCrea (Sullivan's Travels) plays against type as Sergeant Vinson, the only non-commissioned officer left alive after a Native American attack decimates his entire troop. The few survivors include Robert Travis (John Russell) a college-educated drifter, and McGurney (Forrest Tucker) an anti-authoritarian Irishman. Vinson decides that to save his men he must lead them through Native American territory to reach their fort. The troop begins to suspect, however, that Vinson's hatred for the Apaches, sparked by the brutal slaying of his wife and children several years ago, may be the real reason for the perilous shortcut. As the men travel through treacherous territory, isolated and outnumbered, will Vinson's hatred finally consume him?