Postwar treasure hunters are looking for family members who co-founded “
They are told the family in question was massacred by John Brown, who achieved a 100% efficiency rating in this transaction. (“Memory, speak: Did John Brown conduct any massacres in
The locals refer to the family as “Copperheads.” (Anachronism alert! Then I think, “It’s okay, the postwar locals are logically applying a sensible description based on later events.”)
In this story, a certain Confederate guerilla leader, a transplanted Louisianan, was operating around his new
He is forced by military necessity in 1863 to try to get his operating funds out of
Spoiler alert: his operating funds are characterized as gold, which is what misleads postwar treasure hunters. They are actually notes promising to pay the bearer a certain amount of gold after the Confederate government achieves victory and independence. (“Memory: Did the Rebels issue any redeemable paper whatsoever aside from Cotton Bonds in
With the memory banks overheating, it was a little hard to absorb the main lines of the episode, which were truly excellent. Warner Brothers essentially filmed a complete faux episode of Gunsmoke, based in Dodge City, complete with Matt, Doc, Chester, and Miss Kitty and then dropped James Garner’s Maverick character into the Gunsmoke episode as the villain, providing the core joke (based on Maverick’s hilariously non-villainous nature). The climactic gunfight between Matt Dillon and Maverick was a deliciously cruel piece of satire. Excellently post-modern for 1958. If you remember these two shows, the DVD is a must-see.
Nowadays, producers hire consultants to help keep their facts straight. I’m not sure the consultants are doing a great job – they might potentially have reduced my brain strain in this old TV episode, but they would have done so by pigeonholing: John Brown would kill Missourians; a Quantrill-type guerilla would cross borders not base himself in Kansas; a famous military operation (instead of a generic one) would force Rebels treasure to be buried posthaste.
I’ll match the fuzzy possibilities envisioned by Maverick’s scriptwriters vis a vis the historical record in another post to test the potential value added of history consultants to this episode