escape to ponderosa
Bonanza Western TV
The Lone Writer  

Escape to Ponderosa Full Episode – Bonanza, Season #01, Episode #25

Bonanza is among the most popular television programs many Western fans love. The show aired for 14 seasons, keeping its audience glued to its unique and compelling episodes weekly. Robert E. Thompson and Bill Barrett wrote the program’s twenty-fifth episode, Escape to Ponderosa, which aired on March 5, 1960.

Three army deserters named Jimmy Sutton (Joe Maross), Lt. Paul Tyler (Grant Williams), and Pvt. Harry Mertz (James Parnell) sought refuge on the Ponderosa, senselessly beating Adam. Angered by what happened, the Cartwrights decided to join the persistent Captain Bolton (Chris Alcaide) and his military posse.

Several actors and actresses acted in the episode, including Gloria Talbott, who played Nedda, Dayton Lummis as Colonel Metcalfe, and Sherwood Price as the Corporal.

Read its plot and some fascinating trivia, or watch the episode listed below.

Watch the Full Episode of Escape to Ponderosa

Watch the Full Episode of Escape to Ponderosa:

Main Cast

Aside from the main actors, Bonanza’s twenty-fifth episode, Escape to Ponderosa, featured some of the show’s recurring and supporting cast members.

The list below showcases the actors who appeared in the Escape to Ponderosa episode:

  • Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright
  • Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright
  • Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright
  • Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright
  • Joe Maross as Jimmy Sutton
  • Gloria Talbott as Nedda
  • Grant Williams as Lt. Paul Tyler
  • Chris Alcaide as Capt. James Bolton
  • Dayton Lummis as Lt. Col. Metcalfe
  • James Parnell as Pvt. Harry Mertz
  • Sherwood Price as Corporal

Full Story Line for Escape to Ponderosa

Three army prisoners—Mertz, Tyler, and Sutton—flee from Fort Dayton. Tyler tries to break Mertz’s chains with a rock. On the other hand, Adam, who’s out looking for stray animals, overhears people talking and dismounts from his horse to investigate. Unfortunately, they outnumbered and then knocked him out.

Little Joe comes home to Hoss building a house of cards. Ben returned home and asked if Adam had arrived with Little Joe. He replied, saying Adam would return soon. Since the two rode by the Oakes’ ranch, Hoss assumed Adam decided to visit Miss Nedda. He later suggests that Little Joe would make an excellent husband for Nedda, and Ben accepts the idea.

Their conversation pauses when a Fort Dayton soldier patrol arrives at the Ponderosa. The soldier introduces himself as Captain James Bolton, saying he’s searching for three deserters who escaped from his stockade. He also mentioned that their trail ended on the Ponderosa ranch, so he asked for the people in the house, then marched further to inspect the place. Ben informs him that aside from the three of them, Hop Sing, their cook, is in the house. The innuendo that he might be hiding the fugitives offends Ben. However, Bolton proceeds with his inspection, heading towards the cooking area when Ben asks Hoss to show the captain around.

Just then, a soldier announces about an injured man. They dashed outdoors to see a wounded Adam without his coat and gun, accompanied by a couple of soldiers. He explained what happened when he and Joe briefly parted ways—that someone jumped at him upon checking a noise he heard. Bolton asks if he saw the face of the person, and Adam heaves a sigh and shakes his head in reply.

Ben plans to search for the men who ambushed Adam, having Joe accompany him since he knows the area. Bolton believes it’s the prisoners they were looking for, then insists they locate them instead. However, Ben firmly states he’s leading the search since it’s his land and his son was hurt. Bolton’s displeased but complies since he doesn’t have any other option.

The three prisoners stop near a small cavern. Sutton wears Adam’s coat, and Tyler carries the gun. They opt to go to Nedda’s place, with Sutton leading the way. Sutton tells Mertz he can’t go to the farm with his chained hands, so he’ll have to wait until they return. Tyler agrees and assures Mertz they’ll come back for him.

Meanwhile, Ben, Joe, and the soldier patrol have followed the tracks the three left behind, eventually discovering Mertz in the cave. Bolton demands to know where the rest of the prisoners are, but Mertz keeps silent about it. Bolton hits him, so Mertz speaks, saying he doesn’t know where they went since they split off. Bolton was about to hit him again, but Ben stopped him. As the soldiers take Mertz, he trips, and Bolton aims his weapon at him. Ben stops him again, but Bolton declares the prisoner tried to escape. Ben argues that he witnessed how Bolton attempted to murder the prisoner, intending to tell his friend at Fort Dayton, Colonel Metcalf, about Bolton’s actions.

Meanwhile, Tyler and Sutton reached Nedda’s ranch. They enter the stable and see a young colt lying on the hay. As the two conversed, they heard a noise outside, so they took cover. The noise came from Nedda, who placed a warm blanket over the foal. Sutton shows up behind to surprise her. Although shocked initially, Nedda is happy upon realizing it was Jimmy Sutton. The two hadn’t spoken for two years, so she thought he’d forgotten her. Sutton assures her that he can’t forget her, that she’s the only thing that keeps him going. He then presents Tyler as his prospecting partner, stating they left the army some time back. Sutton then asked about Nedda’s father, revealing that her father died over a year ago. Charlie, a hired hand, takes care of the place, although he’s in the town for the week.

Ben makes charges against Bolton to Colonel Metcalf. However, Metcalf can’t accept these charges because there’s not enough proof and Bolton reported that the prisoner was attempting to escape. Ben asks if they talked to Mertz. The colonel states they would have done so, yet unfortunately, Mertz is dead after attacking a guard. Bolton enters and defends his actions as done under strict army policy. The colonel says he has to stand behind Bolton. Ben acknowledges his words and leaves.

After Ben leaves the room, Colonel Metcalf warns Bolton about any transgression of regulations on his part. Bolton complies, then asks permission to return to the Ponderosa to continue their search. The colonel refuses since it’s private land, but Bolton informs him that he’s obtained a court order from the federal district court, so the colonel grants his request.

There was a sudden knock on Nedda’s door when Sutton and Tyler ate breakfast. Sutton tells Nedda not to let anybody know their presence because they possibly hit a big silver strike and want to keep it from anyone else in the meantime.

Nedda opens the door to Hoss, standing outside. He informs her that two army prisoners are on the loose. She acts anxious upon hearing the news and doesn’t invite Hoss in, saying her stove is not working right. Hoss thinks that Nedda acted oddly but leaves right away.

Nedda heads back to the dining area, where she finds Sutton holding a gun. She finds it suspicious, so she directly asks if the army is looking for them. Sutton admits they are but states someone framed them. He argued that he tried to serve his time, but the captain, Bolton, was a sadist who would beat them. Sutton also claims Tyler was in a sweat box for three weeks, almost dead when they brought him out. He forces Tyler to confess it, much to which he complies. Sutton pleads for her help, and she agrees to let them stay.

At the Ponderosa, Hoss reports Nedda’s strange behavior, saying she was kind of nervous and subtly trying to get rid of him. The Cartwrights decide they’d better return to Nedda’s place to investigate, leaving the injured Adam behind to guard the house.

Sutton scouts around the area while Tyler and Nedda tend to the colt. Nedda notices Tyler’s knowledge about horses, then asks him where he’d learn all of them. Tyler tells her he spent his time growing up with them since his father breeds horses in Maryland. Moreover, Tyler points to Nedda that once you gain the horse’s trust, it’ll be easy to depend on them. However, he could only wish he could say the same for people. He takes his t-shirt off to clean up, unintentionally revealing his scars to Nedda. She grew worried, horrified to learn how they treated him.

The Cartwrights reach Nedda’s place and begin to search the area. Ben enters the barn, and Tyler is about to swing a board on him, but Ben aims a gun at him. Sutton comes from behind, then points his weapon at him. Ben turns to Sutton, but Tyler strikes him with the board before he can make a move. Sutton shuts the stable’s door while Tyler and Nedda fall next to Ben, worried that Tyle may have hit Ben too hard. Sutton realizes it was Ben Cartwright, who possibly knows who they are. He aims his gun to shoot him, but Tyler grabs Ben’s weapon and stops Sutton. Sutton thinks Tyler is crazy for acting like a Lieutenant again, which may lead him back to Bolton and his beatings. Tyler then asks where Sutton’s off to, seeing if he has another friend. Sutton doesn’t answer, but he’s not leaving without Nedda.

Hoss and Little Joe enter the barn and help Ben stand up. Sutton refuses to return, claiming the soldiers will kill them. Nedda says she’s seen their scars and requests Ben’s help. However, Ben says it’s an army matter, a case that is out of his control. He then takes their name tags, saying he will talk with the colonel to convince him that he’s seen the prisoners. Tyler complies, saying he has no choice but states that if Bolton comes after them, no matter what it takes, he won’t willingly return.

As Ben goes to see the colonel, Bolton and his men suddenly appear and ask him to come with them. Bolton says he’ll take Ben into custody for helping the army prisoners escape. They find the name tags on Ben’s pocket and know he’s seen the prisoners. After asking one of his soldiers where Ben came from, the group heads to the west with Ben.

Tyler and Netta were still caring for the colt back in the barn. The weak foal yesterday was now standing up, thanks to Tyler’s aid. Nedda believes Tyler is worth saving, especially after saving Ben Cartwright’s life. Hoss approaches Tyler and asks why he got in trouble. Tyler declares they convicted him of cowardice because he refused to obey orders. They ordered him to take his platoon of 27 men against 400 Apaches. Tyler thought it was a suicidal act and couldn’t put his men in that position. However, it was supposedly a diversionary attack. He didn’t know it was the case, so he didn’t proceed, which unfortunately led to the death of many soldiers from a frontal attack. Nedda believes it wasn’t cowardice and does not think he should be penalized for refusing to obey a suicidal act. However, Hoss says the army knows what it’s doing, and Joe states it’s not proper to judge the whole army just because of Captain Bolton.

Sutton tries a different strategy to escape, claiming Nedda will feel awful seeing the soldiers drag him away after waiting two years for his return. Nedda says she can’t, and Sutton realizes something must be happening between Tyler and Nedda. Tyler hits him in the face, the two ending in a brief scuffle. Joe and Hoss tried to stop them, but Sutton grabbed Joe’s gun and left the barn.

Sutton is about to escape with Little Joe’s horse when he hears the riders approaching the area. He hides and then runs over a fence, only giving Bolton a chance to shoot him in the back.

Inside the barn, Nedda asks Hoss and Joe to tell Bolton that Tyler is unarmed and willing to surrender. She then begs Tyler to go out the back door as soon as they leave. Tyler refuses, saying Bolton would shoot them both down. Nedda doesn’t care and confesses that she loves him.

Hoss and Joe step outside to inform Bolton that Tyler is unarmed. However, as he walks out of the barn, Bolton orders him to drop his gun. Tyler complies and raises his hands, but Bolton calls him to drop his weapon before aiming. Ben pushes Bolton aside, and the shot misses Tyler. Sutton, lying on the ground, rises and aims to shoot Bolton using his last ounce of strength. The other soldiers shoot at Sutton, and Ben declares Bolton dead. Nedda assures Tyler that she’ll wait for him as he returns to the fort, and the two kiss.

Full Script and Dialogue of Escape to Ponderosa

You take this bunch on in.

I'll look over that
hill over there,

see if I can find any more.

You'll be along after that?

Well, if I don't find any,

I'm liable to be
sitting by the fire

by the time you get
those in the corral.

Take it easy. Right.

You'll never get that thing off.

Why don't you quit?

We can try, can't we?


Much good as it'll do.

Tyler, he's slowing us down.

I'm telling you, Bolton's
picked up our tracks by now.

You ain't going to
leave me, Sutton?

We're not leaving you.

If you hadn't killed that guard,

Bolton wouldn't have found
out about us for another day.

I never meant to kill him.

I was just paying him back

for something he done to me.

Over to this friend's place
where you're taking us,

maybe he'll have a
chisel or somethin'.


We'll just walk in and tell her


you always go
around wearing chains.

A girl?


♪ ♪

I always knew you were
good for something, brother,

but, uh, I never figured

it would be making
houses out of cards.


I ain't got but three
more cards left.

I'm going to make
it this time, for sure.

Gee, I'm proud of you, brother.

You... you have to breathe

so dad-gum hard
when you're talkin'?

You're gonna blow down
my house of cards here.

Oh, okay.

But, see, when I
mean I'm proud of you...

I mean, I'm really proud of you!


Dad-gummit, Little Joe!

Oh, hiya, Pa. How are you?

Ooh, it's nippy out there.

Yeah, yeah.

So, did you collect them strays?

Huh? Yeah, yeah, I, uh...

I got a couple of 'em, and I...

I checked 'em right
off on the tote sheet.

Good. Ooh.

Adam get back, too?

No, no, but he said
he'd be right along.

Good. Sit down, Pa.

Glad to see you.

You boys were ridin' the
line out by the Oakes' ranch,

weren't you, Little Joe?

Maybe Adam just decided to go by

and pay Miss Nedda a visit, Pa.

You know, I wish one of you
boys would spark to Miss Nedda.

She's a fine girl.

She's a handsome one, too.

Hey, Pa. Huh?

What about Little Joe?

Don't you think he would make

a nice husband for Miss Nedda?

You could arrange it,
too, couldn't you, Pa?

That's not a bad idea.

Hey, look, you're kidding.

I don't want to get
married, Pa... I...

Well, she's a
pretty girl, isn't she?

Well, yeah, but...
She's pretty, ain't she?

Well, I think she's one

of the prettiest
girls I've ever seen.

Of course, she is.

And she's got the makin's of one

of the finest little
horse ranches

in this country, ain't she, Pa?

She certainly
has. It's all paid for

and clear, Little Joe.
Yeah, well, I don't care.

I just... I just don't feel
like getting married.

Well, not for a
couple days, anyway.

You know, Hoss,

I think he's going
to change his mind.

I'm sure he will, Pa.

And when he does,
we're going to all be real...

proud of him.

Yeah... must be Adam.

Sounds like more
than one to me, Pa.

Detail, halt.



Well, that's strange.

Mr. Cartwright?

Yes, that's right.

Detail, dismount.

Stand to your horses.

Captain James Bolton.

barracks, Fort Dayton.

Hello, Captain.

Please, come in.

Uh, these are my sons,
Hoss and Little Joe.

How are you, Captain?

Well, Captain, I
suppose you must

have your hands
pretty full these days,

what with the Indian
uprisings and all.

Oh, please, sit down.

Fort Dayton is a casuals post.

What's that?

A place for troops
deemed not fit for line duty.

Well, the least we could do

is get your men some coffee.

It's pretty cold
out there today.

Uh, Hoss, see that Hop Sing

gets some coffee out
to the men. Hold that.

My men are on duty.

Well, I ain't on duty, Captain.

You want some coffee?


I'm trailing three deserters

that escaped from my stockade.

Well, Captain, do you think
they headed up this way?

Their trail led to your land.

Well, as I was riding
the fence all morning,

I didn't see anything.

How about you, Hoss?



No sign of tracks,

campfire, trampled-down brush?

I didn't see anything.

Well, that's odd.

Captain, I don't see why
that should be so odd.

We have a pretty
big piece of land here.

Three men could very
easily lose themselves on it.


Who else is in the
house with you now?

Hop Sing, our cook.

Uh, Captain?

Now, surely, you don't think

that those three men
are hiding in this house.

It's not within my province

to think one way or the
other, Mr. Cartwright.

Then, let me set
you straight, Captain.

Those men are not here.

Then, you'll have no objection
to my men searching the area.


I just told you.

Those men are not in this house.

Let me state the situation

very precisely for
you, Mr. Cartwright.

We know that those three
men came to this general area.

It is also quite obvious

they cannot evade detection
without some outside help.

Now, anyone aiding them in
any way will be charged with

and tried for obstructing
military justice.


will you be good enough
to show the captain out?

You betcha, Pa.


We've got a man
out here, Captain.


He's my son... let him go.

Let him go.

Release him.

Adam, what happened?
I don't know, Pa.

Just west of where me and
Joe split up, I heard this noise.

Turned around, and
somebody jumped me.

Did you see their faces?

Come on, let's get
him into the house.

Joe, get the liniment. Okay, Pa.

Well, it's not as bad
as I thought at first.

The men that assaulted you...

could you tell if there
were three of them?

Well, there were
at least two of them.

I, uh... somewhere in
the back of my mind,

I heard 'em talking about
whether to kill me or not.

There could've been a third.

Uh, take it easy, Pa.

Pa, it looks to me
like it's right now time

for some settli" up to be done.

Oh, we'll do the settlin' up.

Move over.

Now, Hoss... I want
you to bandage Adam up

and get him up to bed.

Well, Pa, I-I kind of
figured on ridin' with you.

Well, Little Joe knows
exactly where Adam

and he were rounding
up those strays.

Now, here. Any time you say, Pa.


If these are the men I'm
after, they belong to me.

I think there's something

we'd better straighten
out, Captain.

This is my land you're on,

and that's my son
who's been ambushed.

Now, if you want
to ride along, fine,

but you ride where I say,
and you ride behind me.

Otherwise, take your men
and get off the Ponderosa.

And if they are
the men I'm after?


Uh... let's take a breather.

Sutton, are you sure you
know where you're taking us?

Well, if you want to strike
out on your own, go ahead.

I'm not stopping you, am I?

The ranch is over
that way, I think.

Yeah, I... I'm sure of it.

How... how do you know
they're going to take us in?

I told you, I worked there
when I was drifting west

a couple of years back.

Yeah, I'd have stayed on, maybe,

except the old man
running it booted me off

'cause his daughter took to me.

I always promised Nedda
I'd be coming back for her.

Just a little sooner
than I figured, that's all.

Shut up!

Ain't nothi" to hear us

but hoot owls and crawlies.

I don't like it, neither.

You ain't ever known
anything better.

Come here! Cut
it out, both of you!

That's an order.

"That's an order."

You hear him, Mertz?

Only you ain't an
officer no more, Tyler,

so maybe you ought to
forget about issuing orders.

You know, I still
don't figure you out.

Mertz here was
facing the gallows.

Me, I still had five
years left to serve.

Hey, this cave, it's a
pretty good place to hole up.

And you had about
six months to do,

and you would have been free.

So, why risk your
neck breaking out?

My reasons don't concern you.


Maybe not.

Look, uh, you two hole up here.

I'll go see if it's clear
at the girl's place.

I'll just go with you
if you don't mind.

All right, but not him.

Nedda will scare off,

she sees him paradin'
up in them chains.

You're going to leave me?

Yeah, yeah.

He's right.

You, uh... you lie low here

till we get some,
uh, other clothes

and something to pry
those chains off with.

coming back for sure?

You-you give me your Bible word?

You have my word.

Well, if you're coming,
let's get moving.

There's no sign of
them up there, Pa.

They must have headed
off in that direction.

Yeah, probably kept to the
creek bed, the other side.

Turning dry now, but
the bank should still

be soft enough to leave prints.


Yeah, somebody
came through here, Pa.

Not too long ago.

Hold it.

There they are again.

Spread out.

Search any spot that's big
enough to hide any of them.

If that's all right with
you, Mr. Cartwright.

Put up your gun, Captain.

All right, now.

Where're those other two
men that were with you?

I charge and hereby
arrest this man

for known and specific crimes

against the articles of war.

Captain... He's a
military prisoner now.

We'll get your answers for you.

Corporal, take the
prisoner in charge. Yes, sir.

You better get those
answers, Captain.

All right, Mertz,
where're the other two?

You put a blotch
on my record, Mertz,

and I intend to erase it.

Where are they?

I don't know.

We split off.

That's the truth, mister.

I swear it.

Just get the answers, Captain.

Maybe you're right.

If he knew where the others
were, he'd be pouring it out.

'Cause he's scum, and
scum always breaks.

Isn't that right, Mertz?

Or have you forgotten
what it's like in the hotbox?

Some day...

some day somebody's
gonna get you...


Well, it won't be you, Mertz.

I can assure you of that.




No, I'd rather die than
go into that hotbox!



Prisoner was
attempting to escape.

You're a witness to that.

I'm also a witness to the fact

that you deliberately
tried to murder him.

Bolton, I'm gonna see
to it that my good friend,

Colonel Metcalf at Fort
Dayton, gets to know exactly

what kind of officer
he has in his command.

♪ ♪

Nice ranch. Yeah.

Wait'll you see the
gal who lives on it.

We-we better get
cleaned up first.

Scare her to death
walk in this way.

Scare her?

I guess you didn't listen good

when I told you about her.

We were real friendly,
Nedda and me.

It ain't her I'm worried about.

It's her pa.

Stable's over here.

Don't close the door

so we can hear if
anyone's comin'.

Hey, there's what we want.


Put this on.

Help you look human again.

Good-looking colt.

His mother must have died.

He needs care.

This is a fine time to
be fussin' over horses.

I sometimes prefer
them to people.

And what's that
supposed to mean?


Just a thought.

I'd sure like to see Butcher
Bolton's face right now!

He's probably chasing us
halfway across the Sierra.


I doubt it.

Bolton's a sadist,

but he was one of the best
Indian trackers in the army.

Well, we're not Indians.

Besides, after we hole
up here for a coupla days,

they'll probably
quit looking for us.

Not Bolton.

All right, not Bolton,
maybe, but the brass.

They'll figure it's
not worth the effort.

You're an officer... You
know how they think.

I was an officer.

About this, uh, girl of yours.

You've been gone
for two years...

How do you know she, uh,
hasn't married or something?

I know.

Like to make a little bet on it?

You already have... your life.

Yours, too.

And don't you ever forget it.

Wha... Jimmy!


What are you doing...

I told ya I'd be coming back.

I thought you'd forgotten me.

Nedda, you think I
could ever forget you?

Oh, uh, Tyler, come here.

Uh, this is my partner.

I've been telling
him all about you.

Now he... now he can see
everything I said was true.

Tyler, ain't she a beauty?

Sutton, you, uh...

You never even got close.

It's a... it's a pleasure
to meet you, miss, uh...

Tyler's my name.

Uh, Paul-Paul Tyler.


Her name's Nedda.

Call her Nedda.

How do you do?

Are you in the army with Jimmy?

Uh, no, no not-not exactly.

Well, you see, Nedda, I-I
left the army some time back.

Tyler and me've been
doing a little prospecting.


Well, why-why didn't you

just come right up
on to the house?

What're you doing out here?

Oh, well, we're
covered with trail dirt.

We wanted to wash up a bit
before we barged in on you.

Well, now is that fair?

You get all prettied up
and, well, just look at me.

Oh, honey, you're wonderful.

Just beautiful.

I'm gonna take a walk outside.

Uh, wait a minute, Tyler, uh.

Uh, your Pa's up in
the house, I guess, huh?


Jimmy, Pa died over a year ago.


That's a real shame.

I'm... I'm sure sorry, honey.

Uh, who's taking
care of the place?

Oh, I have a hired
hand, Charlie.

He-he's in town for the week.

That-that's awful, you
being alone like this, honey.

Oh, it sure is good
to see you again.

Why didn't you write to me?

Oh, I couldn't.

I-I was moving around a lot.

You know how it is.

Yes, I know how it
is, but... well, do you?

Oh, Jimmy, after a while I...

I gave up hopi" and then...

And then I just
stopped dreamin'.

I didn't stop.

That's the only thing
that kept me goin'.

Nedda, I'm gonna make
up all that lost time to you.

Jimmy, I don't think you can.

I just don't think you can.

Let me try.

Hut, two, three, four.

Hut, two, three, four.

Ben, I've known
you for a long time,

but I can't accept
these charges you make

against Captain
Bolton... Not without proof.

Well, what more
proof do you want?

Well, at the moment,
it's your word against his.

That's right.

What did he tell you?

That Mertz was trying to escape?

That's what he
says in his report.

Well, have you spoken to Mertz?

Have you heard
his side of the story?

I would have done so, of course.

Private Mertz is dead.


He attacked a guard in
the stockade last night.

During the ensuing
struggle, he was killed.

And you believe that?
You really believe that?

Colonel, how many men have
died in Captain Bolton's stockade?

Captain Bolton is an officer

with a distinguished
record, Ben,

commended several
times for bravery in action.

Perhaps you noticed his hand.

He was captured and
tortured by the Sioux.

The Sioux are savages.

Captain Bolton, I presume,

is a civilized,
responsible person.

Come in.

Adams? Yo.

Boyd. Right.

The Colonel sent for me?

You know Mr. Cartwright?

Yes, sir, I do.

Captain Bolton,

Mr. Cartwright has made
certain charges against you.

I thought you should be
here to defend yourself.

I'm aware of
Mr. Cartwright's charges.

I'm sure the colonel knows

my behavior has
been and always will be

strictly according
to army regulations.

Colonel, I've never heard
of any army regulations

that cover the
killing of prisoners.

Mr. Cartwright,
maybe you don't know

whom you're defending.

Private Mertz
killed a fellow soldier

in a brawl over a card game.

As for Sutton, he attempted

an armed robbery
of an army payroll.

Ben, this is a casuals post.

I don't know whether you realize

that it's made up of
outcasts and misfits.

They're still men,

and as such, they're entitled

to certain minimum
standards of treatment.

Ben, I respect your opinion

and your judgment,
but this is the army,

and I have to stand
behind Captain Bolton.



I understand.

Good day, Colonel.

Good day, Ben.

Thank you, sir.

Captain, I chose
my words carefully

in front of Mr. Cartwright,

but your conduct has
been brought into question.

If there's the
slightest indication

of any transgression of
regulations on your part,

I'll see that you're

and, if the facts so
warrant, court-martialed.

Is that understood?

Yes, sir. That's all.

With the Colonel's
permission, I beg leave

to return to the Ponderosa
with a detail of men.

Well, that's private land.

We can't search it without
permission of the owner,

or an order from
a civilian court.

I have already obtained
the required court order

from the federal district
court of this territory.

Request granted.

But if I were you, Captain,

I'd remember that
warning I gave you.

I'd remember it very carefully.


That was great, honey.

Nothing like a good meal

to make a man
feel like he belongs.

Thank you.

Well, you haven't
touched your food.

Oh, I'm... I'm sorry.

I guess I've spent too
much time eating army chow.

Army chow?

Well, he was in the army, too,

before we started prospecting.

Who's that?

Well, I don't know who
it could be at this hour.

Nedda, honey, would
you do me a big favor?

Uh, don't say anything about
Tyler and me being here.

Well, why not?

Well, uh, we just hit a
big silver strike maybe,

and, uh, it's best
nobody knows about it.

Not yet. Oh.

You understand?

All right.

Well, morning, Hoss.

Good morning, ma'am.

You sure do look nice
in your new dress and all.

Thank you.

Ma'am, I-I don't want
to worry you none,

but Pa thought you
ought to know about it.

There's-There's some
army prisoners loose.

Army prisoners?

Yes'm. There was three of
'em, but there ain't but two now.

One of 'em's
already been caught.


Oh, uh... well, thank
you very much, Hoss.

Ma'am? Hmm?

Everything's all
right here, ain't it?

I mean, there ain't been
nobody around here?

No, no. I... I'd-I'd
ask you in for coffee,

but my stove... it... well,
it-it's not working right.

Well, ma'am, I'll be
happy to fix it. No, Hoss.

Uh, it's not broken.

It-It's just hard to handle.

But thank you very much, Hoss.

Ma'am, you right sure
everything's all right?

Yes, Hoss.


Uh, is-is he gone?


You can never be sure
about people, honey.

Uh, we heard about
them army prisoners, too.

It might have been one of them.

It might have been.

Just exactly where have
you been prospecting?

Well, uh, up north a piece.

Ain't that right, Tyler?



Yeah, I guess it
is, if you say so.

Sure, it's right.

What's got into you?


Is it you they're looking for?

Is it?

Well, I guess it is.

But I was framed.

Honey, you know me.

I was wild, but I never
did anything dishonest.

And I tried to
serve out my time.

But... But you don't know
what that-that stockade was like.

Beatings, starvation.

There was a captain

got his fun by
kicking us around.

You know what happened to him?

He was in a sweat
box for three weeks.

When they brought him
out, he was almost dead.

Tell her! Tell her!

Yeah, yeah, that part's true...

Well, why didn't you
tell me all this last night?

I was going to,
but... I was afraid.

Of me?

You were afraid of me?

That-That's what Butch...
Captain Bolton does to you.

He makes you feel like
an animal all the time,

and... and you're scared.

Nedda... if you love me...

Nedda, if you love
me, you'll help us.


What can I do?

Hide us out.

Oh, Sutton.

Why do you have
to drag her into this?

Why don't we just...

Why don't we just
get out while we can?

To where? They got Mertz.

That means Bolton thinks
we're heading out of here.

We're gonna stay here.
It's our only chance!

You can stay here.

Both of you.

I want you to.

I knew I could count on you.

Thank you, Miss Nedda.

Oh, I-I don't know, Pa.

She-She seemed all right.

It was...

just that she was kind of
nervous-like or something.

You mean, by her not
letting you in the place?

Well, that and it was
just a feeling I got.

I don't know how to explain it.

If I didn't know
Miss Nedda better,

I'd-I'd think she was trying
to get rid of me or something.

Well, if things
didn't seem right,

why didn't you have a
good look around the place?

I kicked myself all the way home

for not doing just
that, little brother.

I think we'd all better
take a good look

around that place.

Suits me fine.

I'm getting tired
of being an invalid.

Adam, I... I'd rather
you stayed home.

Oh, Pa.

No. Look, with Captain Bolton

and those deserters
still in the area,

can't leave the house unguarded.

All right, I'll hold the fort.

The colt will be needing this.

You and that Tyler...

You sure do a lot of
worrying about that colt.

I'll see you later.

Oh, where are you going?

Scout around the area.

Hey, that's army talk.

I guess it rubs off on you,
whether you like it or not.

Here. Brought him some milk.

He needs it.

Is it warm?

I think it's just right.

Come on, little fella.

Come on, drink some milk.

Come on, drink
a little bit, huh?

Poor substitute for
your mama, huh?

Where did you learn
all about horses?

I grew up with them.

My father used to breed
trotters back in Maryland.

Well, you don't see
many of those out this way.

I love to watch them,
the way they move.

You ought to see
them being trained.

Oh, they-they fight
you, make it tough, but...

once you have their trust,
you can depend on them.

I wish you could say
as much for people.

You've been hurt
pretty bad, haven't you?

Pa, there's... something
a little funny about this.

I don't believe she left
here without locking up.

Do you? I don't know.

You fellas take a look out back.

I'm going to look in the stable.

All right, Pa.

You know, I get a
funny feeling about you.

Like you don't care whether
you... get away or not.

Oh, you're wrong, Nedda.

That's something I
care about very much.

Bolton's never gonna
get me back in a...

Did they do that to you?

Why, that's terrible.

That's just terrible.

I'm sorry you had to see that.

Well, I'm not.

Nedda... Nedda,
don't worry about me.

I'm... I'm not worth it.

I haven't known you very
long, but I think you are.

No. Put it down, son.

Ben, please.

I'm sorry, Nedda.

I mean it there, son.

Put it down.

Come on. Put it down.

And you drop that gun.

Now, mister.

I got the drop, and I ain't
gonna miss from here.

No, this is Ben
Cartwright. Don't, Jimmy.

Get out of the way, Nedda.

Great work, pal.

What's great about it?

I... I might have killed him.

Will he be all right?

I hope so.

I hit him hard.

Too hard.

Ben Cartwright, huh?

The way he was talking, he
knows who we are, doesn't he?

I'm afraid he does.

Nothing to be afraid of.

His hard luck, not ours.

Nedda, get away from him.

No. Get away from him.

No, Jimmy! It's him or us!

Put it down, Sutton.

You... You decided

to start giving orders
again, Lieutenant?

I have no choice.

You try killing him,
and you're dead.

What's got into you?

You-You itching to have
Bolton beat you to death?

All right. All right!

But we gotta get out of
here before he comes to!

Where are you gonna go?

Do you have another... friend?

All right, stay here.

What's the matter, Sutton?

You forget something.

Nedda, I can't leave you.

Not with all the
plans I made for us.

You and me, honey... we're
gonna make a great pair.

Are we, Jimmy?

Drop 'em, boys.

Drop 'em!

All right, get up!

Over here.

Move! Move over there!

Come on, get over there!

You all right, Pa?

Yeah. I guess so.

That was quite a
wallop, you men.

What are you after?

Give us a break.

You can help us get
out of the territory.

But give us a break, that's all.

Mister, you turn us back
there, and they're gonna kill us!

Yes, I saw the scars
they got in the stockade.

Please, Ben, can't
you help them?

Nedda, it's... it's
an army matter.

It's out of my hands.

Well, what if one of
them was your son... Hoss

or Little Joe?

Please, you've got to help them.

Well, if they were my sons, I...

I think I'd ask them
to give themselves up.

To the mercies of
a Captain Bolton?

Give me your name tags.

What do you want them for?

So I can convince the
colonel that I've really seen you,

and that you are ready
to give yourselves up.

To Captain Bolton?

I'll speak to the
Colonel. I'm sure he'll be

as fair as he possibly can be.

You ain't gonna do it, mister.

Do we have any choice?

One thing, Mr. Cartwright,

if Bolton comes for us,

no matter what it takes,
I'm not going back.

Take care of them.



I'm taking you into custody.

On what grounds, Captain?

For aiding and abetting the
escape of an army prisoner.

Search him.

You're stepping
over that line, Bolton.

I'll be the judge of that.

Where are they?

Which direction
was he coming from?

From the west, sir.

Take your men in that direction

and bring him along. Yes, sir!

Lead out!


Come on, little fella.

Come on, come on, try.

Come on, up.

Come on, come on.

He's going to make it.

It's funny what a thin
line separates things.

Yesterday, I wouldn't have
given him much of a chance.

Sometimes it can be
the same way with a man.

Yesterday, I might
not have thought

you were worth saving.

Well, what...

What makes you think I am now?

Well, you, uh, saved
Ben Cartwright's life.

You know, we're gonna
be here for quite a while.

Why don't you set
yourself somewhere?

I'm just stretching my legs.

Well, I think you got all
the kinks out, sit down.

All right, all right, friend,
don't, uh, don't get angry.

You think quite a bit
of that colt, don't you?

Why not?

He needed my help and,
in a way, I needed him.


Mr. Tyler,

you don't have to answer
this unless you want to.

What'd you do that got
you into all this trouble?

I was... convicted of cowardice.

Oh, don't look so
surprised, it's true.

The actual charge read:

"Dereliction of duty,
refusal to obey a command

and... cowardice in battle."

It was in the border
campaign against the Apaches.

My first command.

The regiment was pinned down.

I was ordered

to take my platoon and make
a flank attack in the open.

27 men against 400 Apaches.

I refused.

Maybe it was
because I was afraid.

All I know is that I
couldn't bring myself

to lead 27 men to their deaths.

How come they want you
to do that in the first place?

That's the terrible part.

I didn't know at the time
that it was meant to be

a diversionary attack.

The real attack was
coming from the other flank.

Well, they... They
were thrown back

and half the regiment wiped out.

Maybe my life and
the lives of my men

could've made the difference.

But now I... I'll never know.

It wasn't cowardice, Paul.

How could you
obey an idiotic order

and commit suicide
with all your men?

You're wrong, Miss Nedda.

It wasn't an idiotic order.

The army generally
knows what it's doing.

Well, what were they doing
when they put scars on him?

Ma'am, you can't
judge the whole army

by a man like Captain Bolton.

But, friend, that's the
man we got to go back to.

Pa told you he'd take
care of that, didn't he?

Look, your Pa's a good man

and maybe he's
got good intentions,

but he's never come up

against anyone
like Bolton before.

I tell you, he's gonna kill us!

Oh, no, he ain't.

Look, there's only
one way to beat this.

And that's if you fix it so
we don't have to go back.

Mister, we can't do that.

Can't you?

This morning when I scouted
the terrain, I left a buggy

and a couple of
horses up in the gully.

All you have to
do is turn your back

for a couple of seconds
and me and Tyler

and the girl will disappear.

Save your breath.

Look, look, you think a
lot of Nedda, don't you?

Don't you want her to be happy?

Well, all right, what do you
think she's gonna feel like

when she's watching them
taking me away to be killed?!

She's been waiting
for me all these years.

Tell them, Nedda!

Tell them to let us go!

I can't, Jimmy, I just can't.

But why not?

Hey... What's been
going on in this stable

besides taking
care of sick colts?!

Okay, hold it!

You take one step my way
and I'll put a bullet in him.

You do that, mister,
and all the bullets

in that gun ain't gonna keep me

from squeezing
the life out of you.

Don't you worry
none, friend, I'll do it.

I got nothing to lose now.

Throw your gun on the floor.

Come on!

The other one.

All right, you,
over there with him.


So long, Lieutenant,
you had your chance.

And you... you can
have what's left of him

after Captain Bolton
gets through with him.





Corporal, you're a witness.

He was armed and dangerous.

You too, Mr. Cartwright.

Hoss, tell him that,

that Paul's going
to give himself up

and that he doesn't have a gun.

I'll tell him, Miss Nedda.

But Captain Bolton
ain't gonna wait long.

Well, just give us a minute.

Yes'm. Come on, Little Joe.

Come on. Where you going?

The back door, we can
still make it to the gully.

No, Nedda, Nedda,

Bolton would shoot you down
just as fast as he would me.

I don't care!

I don't want him to kill you.

No, honey, I
can't risk your life.

Paul, I love you.


You love me? Yes.

Oh, yes.

I want to be with you.

Then I can't run.

I can't run.

He ain't got a gun, Captain.

Get out of the way!


This is army business.
I'm taking that prisoner.

Don't forget he
hasn't got a gun.

Take them aside, Corporal.


All right, Captain.

Drop your gun, Tyler.


I said drop your gun!

All right!


you're gonna be sorry
you interfered with the army.

He's dead.

You'd better get started
back to the Fort, Corporal.

We'll bring the
captain in. Tyler.

How long?

I don't know.

Well, I'll be here.

Let's go, Corporal.

Behind the Scenes of Escape to Ponderosa

Pernell and Grant were both standing when Pernell fired his gun, naturally loaded with blanks, on the last day of shooting. When Grant heard the explosion, he instinctively reached for his throat and felt a sharp, burning sensation. He had minor bleeding resulting from the shell casing fragment that ejected into his left side of the throat. Grant underwent surgery two years later, seeing the possibility that the injury could cause the left side of his face to collapse. He successfully recovered and started acting again.

Army deserters Jimmy Sutton and Lieutenant Paul Tyler seek refuge in Sutton’s former employer’s barn. There they find freshly laundered towels, a bowl, a pitcher of clean water, and clean shirts stored in the barn coincidentally. The resident, Nedda, is unaware that the escapees are coming into the area.

Looking for More Bonanza Episodes?

Bonanza is a great show to watch alone or with family. NBC produced all 14 seasons of Bonanza, which aired on their network from September 1959 to January 1973. Escape to Ponderosa is episode 25 of 430. 

You can find more about any of the 430 Bonanza episodes here>>

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