Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“The Gunmen”
Season 1, Episode 19
#19 in Series
Air date January 23, 1960
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by Carey Wilber
Directed by Christian Nyby
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
A House Divided
Next Episode:
The Fear Merchants
External links
The Gunmen on IMDb


Hoss and Little Joe are mistaken for bloodthirsty hired killers in a small Texas town dominated by two feuding families.


This comedic episode has Hoss and Joe mistaken for gunslingers, the Slade Brothers.

The Slades have been hired by the McFaddens in their feud against the Hatfields in the small Texas town of Kiowa Flats. The Slade brothers are in a Texan town bar having a drinks and frightening the locals. Big Jack Slade shoots somebody who bumped into him accidentally. Little Jim shoots someone in the back who tries to go up the stairs. The Slades take the card game money from the table and use it to pay their bar tab. Then they head to Kiowa Flats to perform their hired duties.

Hoss and Joe ride into Kiowa Flats and wonder about the actions of the townspeople, who've been warned the Slades were coming, unbeknown to Hoss and Joe. In the saloon, Hoss asks Joe if he smells funny or something. He asks the bartender, Sully, if there's anything wrong with them. Sully nervously assures him, "No sir!" When Hoss comments on the nice day, Sully is nearly in tears nervously agreeing. Hoss and Joe leave, tipping their hat to the sheriff as they go and head over to the hotel. They don't know it, but the whole town follows them over and peeks through the door at them. Sully is still terrified by the way Hoss looked at him.

Later they come downstairs to find a contingency of women, mostly young and beautiful, except for the leader, Lorna Doone Mayberry, who's an older, wiser woman. The group stops Hoss and Joe and beg them not to kill their menfolk saying there are not enough to go around as it is. Again, Hoss and Joe find the actions of these people odd, but promise not to kill any that aren't worth killing.

When the boys step outside, somebody starts shooting at them. They dive into the saloon for cover. As the shooting continues they think it best if they do as told and throw out their guns. The Hatfields take Hoss and Joe prisoner and demand they admit that they're the Slade brothers. Jubel Hatfield doesn't believe the boys are from Nevada come to Texas to buy cattle. He thinks they should just hang them. Fortunately, Sheriff Brown arrives and says they should wait for Twirly Boggs to get back since Twirly is the only one who knows what the Slades look like. The sheriff takes Hoss and Joe to jail for their own protection.

In jail, Hoss figures everyone in town is "tetched" from eating the beef of cattle that ate the loco weed. Then a rock with a note comes through the window. It says that Black Alonzo, the Red Handed Avenger will save them. Hoss looks out the window to see a little boy running away.

The ladies of Kiowa Flats all march into the jail and Lorna proceeds to recite her poem. "Oh poor doomed prisoners, it ain't too late. Down on your knees as you face your awful fate. Repent your crimes before that trap is sprung. And you, like a side of beef, are hung." The young ladies in the group are taken by handsome young Joe and argue over who gets to hold his hand. As the poem drags on and on, Joe says hanging would be less painful, but Hoss is near tears from it.

When the poem is finally over, the young women again complain that the town is short of men and they’re wasting two at once by hanging Hoss and Joe. As the young women argue who's been monopolizing Joe's hand, the back wall of the cell falls down. Hoss and Joe don't think twice about leaving and eagerly accept the opportunity.

The McFaddens have sprung the boys to take them back to their home. All along Joe and Hoss have protested they are not the Slades, but like the Hatfields, the McFaddens don't believe them. The father, Alonzo McFadden, locks them in a room for the night. A young boy, Alonzo, climbs in through the window. Hoss recognizes him as the Red Handed Avenger. He explains that the McFaddens hired the Slades to kill Anse Hatfield, “‘cuz he's the best shot in town”. Once Anse is dead, the McFaddens can commence killing all the other Hatfields. Hoss and Joe are not going to be party to this. Since Alonzo threatens to call for help, the boys have to tie him up, then climb out the window.

Unfortunately, Hoss makes a racket as he trips over a milk bucket, alerting the McFaddens to their escape. They're recaptured.

In the morning, Hoss and Joe refuse to take up arms and shoot the Hatfields. Alonzo says then they'll just hang them. Hoss and Joe pick up the guns. Hoss does convince Alonzo to ride into town and let Twirly identify them as not being the Slades.

Twirly is the town drunk and he's regaling everyone with the stories from his school days with the Slade brothers. When the sheriff announces that the Slades are approaching, everyone rushes out. When Hoss and Joe arrive, Twirly says they are the Slades. That's enough for the McFaddens and they demand that Hoss and Joe fulfill their obligation.

As the McFaddens prepare for the fight, Hoss and Joe ask the sheriff how it all began. Seems 30 years ago the Hatfields' hog disappeared. And that night, the McFaddens, who didn't own a hog, had pork for dinner. The sheriff admits he knows they're not the Slades and gives them their guns and horses back.

As Hoss and Joe make their way to leave, little Alonzo marches by and announces he's going to kill some Hatfields. Hoss and Joe know what they have to do just by looking at each other. They go back into the saloon to talk to the sheriff.

The sheriff has a plan. Hoss then goes over to talk to Lorna. He says it would be a shame to lose more men when there's so few to go around. He says women have a way of getting men to do what they want. Lorna thinks Hoss isn't so stupid.

Just as the fight is about to begin, all the ladies march in the street between the two sides. They refuse to move or do any wifely duties until the menfolk call off this silly feud. Beautiful young Amanda McFadden tells Anse Hatfield that she's waiting for him to come to her, but he better not come with a gun in his hand. Anse isn't a fool. He drops the gun and hurries over. Followed by everyone except Jubel and Alonzo. "It was such a nice day for a fight too." Hoss, Joe, and the sheriff all shake hands on the success of their plan.

Hatfield and McFadden acknowledge the truce and are thankful for it. Then they buy each other drinks. McFadden admits it was a big mistake to hire the Slade boys to kill the Hatfields over this dispute. The Slade boys are blamed for the trouble between the two families.

Later Little Joe is being admired by the women, who hate to see him go, as the sheriff tells Hoss and Joe they must now be on their way. He returns their guns and horses so they can leave. As Joe and Hoss make their way along the trail, they bump into the Slade boys who ask them where to find Kiowa Flats. Hoss tells them two miles away or less. Several minutes later they hear gunfire, and assume that the people of Kiowa Flats had opened fire on the Slade boys.

Cast and Characters[]

The Cartwrights[]


  • Ann Graves: Amanda McFadden
  • Bill Clark: Bartender
  • Bill McLean: Kiowa Flats Bartender
  • Bob Miles: Man in Saloon
  • Dennis Holmes: "Black" Alanzo McFadden
  • Dorothy Crenan: Susan Hadfield
  • Dorothy Neumann: Ouisey McFadden
  • Douglas Spencer: Alonzo McFadden
  • Ellen Corby: Lorna Doone Mayberry
  • George Mitchell: Jubal Hadfield
  • Henry Hull: Sheriff B. Bannerman Brown
  • Jenny Maxwell: Clara Lou Kinsey
  • Jody Fair: Lisabelle Jones
  • Jonathan Gilmore: Anse Hatfield
  • King Donovan: Twirly Boggs



"This is worse than the hanging..."
Little Joe about the sermon[src]




See also[]