Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“Escape to Ponderosa”
Season 1, Episode 25
#25 in Series
Air date March 5, 1960
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by Robert E. Thompson

Bill Barrett
Malcolm Stuart Boylan

Directed by Christian Nyby
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
The Stranger
Next Episode:
The Avenger
External links
Escape to Ponderosa on IMDb


Adam is bushwhacked by three Army deserters who are hiding on the Ponderosa. When Ben pursues them, he is hindered by Captain Bolton, the arrogant commander of a military posse.


Three army prisoners, Mertz, Tyler, and Sutton, have escaped Ft Dayton. Tyler uses a rock to try to break Mertz's chains. Adam, who's out looking for strays, hears them talking and goes to investigate. Unfortunately, they overpower him and he's knocked out.

A soldier patrol from Ft Dayton arrives at the Ponderosa. Capt. Bolton says he's looking for three deserters and says their trail ends on the Ponderosa. Capt. Bolton wants to know who else is in the house and marches farther into the room. Ben tells him there's just them and Hop Sing. He resents the innuendo that he might be harboring the fugitives. Bolton heads toward the kitchen when Ben asks Hoss to escort the captain out.

Just then, a soldier calls out that they found an injured man. They rush outside to see the soldiers have Adam, who staggered in without his coat and gun. He's bleeding from a head wound. He says he was bushwhacked west of where he and Joe split. Bolton asks if he saw the men's faces. Adam shakes his head no.

Ben and Joe plan to look for the men, since Joe knows the area. Bolton believes it's the prisoners and wants search for them. Ben says it's his land and his son who was hurt, so he's leading the search. Ben states, "You'll ride where I say and behind me. Otherwise take your men and get off the Ponderosa." Bolton's not happy with it, but he doesn't really have a choice.

The three prisoners, Sutton wearing Adam's coat and Tyler carrying his gun, stop near a small cave. Sutton's trying to get his bearings. They're headed for Netta's house. Sutton tells Mertz he can't go to the farm with chains, so he'll have to wait there for them. Tyler agrees and promises Mertz they'll come back for him.

Ben, Joe and the patrol have followed the tracks, finding Mertz in the cave. Bolton demands to know where the others are, but Mertz is silent. Bolton hits him and Mertz says he doesn't know where they went. Bolton starts to hit him again, but Ben stops him. Bolton pulls his gun as he trips Mertz then takes aim but Ben stops him. Bolton claims the prisoner tried to escape, but Ben says Bolton tried to murder a man and he intends to tell the captain's commanding officer.

Tyler and Sutton have made it to Netta's barn. A young foal lies in the hay. They hear a noise and take cover. It's Netta, who puts a warm blanket over the foal. Sutton comes up behind her, frightening her. When she realizes who it is, she's glad to see him. Sutton introduces Tyler as his prospecting partner, saying they left the army. She hadn't heard from him in two years and thought he'd forgotten her. He assures her that she's the only thing that kept him going.

Ben complains to Colonel Metcalf about Bolton. The Col. says Bolton claims Mertz was trying to escape. Ben asks if they talked to Mertz. The Col. says Mertz is dead. Bolton comes in and defends his actions as being by Army regulation. The Col says he has to stand with Bolton. Ben understands and leaves. The Col. warns Bolton not to step out of line. Bolton asks to go back to the Ponderosa to continue the search. He's acquired a warrant, so the Col. lets him go.

At breakfast, there's a knock on Netta's door. Sutton tells her not to let anyone know they're there because they hit a big silver strike and want to keep it a secret. Hoss is at the door and tells Netta two prisoners escaped from the fort and are in the area. She acts nervous and doesn't invite Hoss in. He thinks it's a bit odd, but leaves. When she returns to the kitchen, Sutton is holding a gun. Now she's suspicious. She asks outright if the army is searching for them. Sutton admits they are, but it's not his fault, he was framed. He tried to serve his time, but Bolton is a sadist and he beats men. He couldn't stay. He says Tyler was held in a sweat box for three weeks. Tyler admits that's true. Sutton begs for her help and she allows them to stay.

After Hoss reports Netta's behavior, the Cartwrights decide they better go back and check things out.

Tyler and Netta are caring for the foal and Tyler tells her that he was raised with horses. He trusts them and wishes he could say the same for people. He takes off his shirt to clean up and she sees scars across his chest. She's horrified that he'd been treated that way.

Ben comes into the barn and Tyler grabs a board to swing at him, but Ben has a gun. Sutton comes behind Ben and when Ben turns, Tyler hits him with the board. Tyler and Netta drop down beside Ben and Tyler's worried he hit Ben too hard. Sutton realizes Ben knows who they are and cocks his gun to shoot him. Tyler grabs Ben's gun and stops Sutton. Sutton thinks Tyler's crazy. He'll wind up back with Bolton. Tyler asks where Sutton's going to go now. Sutton doesn't know, but he's not staying.

He turns to leave the barn, but sees Hoss and Joe outside. He returns and claims he can't leave without Netta, but Netta doesn't want to go. Hoss and Joe come in and take over and help Ben up. The men refuse to go back. Netta says she's seen the scars and also asks Ben for help. Ben says it's an army matter and takes the men's dog-tags. He's going to talk with the Col. Tyler says if Bolton comes for them, no matter what it takes, he won't go back.

Ben is stopped by Bolton and his men. They find the dog-tags and know he's seen the men. Ben refuses to say where, but they know the direction he was coming from.

Back in the barn, Tyler and Netta still tend to the foal. Hoss asks why Tyler was in the stockade. Tyler says he refused to obey orders. He was to take his small unit and attack a much larger band of Indians. It was suicide, and he couldn't put his men in that position. He didn't know at the time, but it was a diversionary attack. Because he didn't attack, many other soldiers were killed in a frontal assault. Netta doesn't think he should be punished for refusing a suicide mission.

Sutton tries a different tactic claiming Netta will feel horrible seeing him being dragged away. She's waited two years for him. Netta doesn't answer and Sutton and Tyler have a brief scuffle. Joe and Hoss try to stop them, and Sutton grabs a gun and leaves the barn.

Sutton is about to take Joe's horse when he hears riders coming, so takes cover. He sneaks away, climbing over a fence when Bolton shoots him in the back. Netta asks Hoss and Joe to tell Bolton that Tyler is unarmed and giving himself up. As soon as they leave, she begs Tyler to run out the back. He refuses. Bolton would shoot them both down and now he's got something to live for. Hoss and Joe tell Bolton that Tyler is unarmed, but when Tyler comes out, Bolton orders him to drop his gun. Tyler raises his hands and Bolton orders him again to drop his gun, then takes aim. Ben shoves him and the shot misses Tyler. Sutton, who's been lying on the ground left for dead, rises and uses his last bit of strength to shoot Bolton. The other soldiers shoot Sutton and Netta runs into Tyler's arms. Ben tells the Corporal to take Tyler back to the fort. Netta promises to wait for him.


The Cartwrights


  • Chris Alcaide: Capt. James Bolton
  • Dayton Lummis: Colonel Metcalfe
  • Gloria Talbott: Netta
  • Grant Williams: Lt. Paul Tyler
  • James Parnell: Private Harry Mertz
  • Joe Maross: Jimmy Sutton
  • Sherwood Price: Corporal


Did You Know?[]

  • During the final day of shooting, Pernell and Grant were standing together when Pernell fired his gun, loaded with blanks of course. Grant heard the blast and automatically going for his throat, felt a sharp and burning sensation. Part of the shell casing had ejected into the left side of his throat with little bleeding. Two years later, Grant had surgery with the risk that the left side of his face would collapse from the injury and made a successful recovery and resumed his acting career.


"I just don't feel like getting married... Well, not for a couple of days, anyway."
Little Joe Cartwright[src]




See also[]