The Gabe Carswell Story
Written by John Dunkel
Directed by Earl Bellamy
Produced by Howard Christie
James Whitmore as Gabe Carswell
Scott Marlowe as Jess Carswell/Little Eagle
Thomas Browne Henry as Chief Yellow Bear
Norman Willis as Wilkes
About This Episode
Gabe Carswell is often remembered because of the scene where Flint gets staked out, spread-eagled. But this episode carrys a powerful Wagon Train message which was ahead of its time.
The changing nature of the Indian way of life due to white over hunting of the buffalo is the central theme. Robert Horton as Flint McCullough addresses this in a speech (see audio clip below) in which he acknowledges that it may not be fair, but the Westward expansion is going to continue.
Flint runs into old friend Gabe Carswell and his angry son Jess, who insists on being called Little Eagle. The young man is a half-breed who has identified completely with his Arapahoe brothers.But the Arapahoe lifestyle is eroding due to the lack of the sustaining buffalo. Gabe wants to take his son to California to begin a new life but the boy wants no part of it.
Flint and Gabe go to the tribe to talk to Chief Yellow Bear in an effort to avert an attack on the train. Although Flint offers the Chief everything but the wash basin in trade, the only thing the Chief wants is buffalo. McCullough promises to find a herd as an excuse to get out and warn the train of the impending attack.
Now Little Eagle is fascinated with McCullough’s new Henry Center Fire gun, which he will steal on more than one occasion. He recognizes that the weapon is far superior to anything the Indians have. He is an angry young man with an abiding hatred of the white man. So the first chance he gets, he tricks Flint and then attempts to kill him by staking him in the sun with rawhide ties.
Although Gabe rescues Flint and together they discover a herd of buffalo which satisfies Yellow Bear, Little Eagle cannot see past his anger and again attempts to murder Flint. Which sadly, Gabe is forced to prevent by shooting his own son.
Chief Yellow Bear, as usual, is a real hard sell.