An Urban Legend of the Bonus Army Era: In Pursuit of Honor
In Pursuit of Honor is a 1995 made-for-cable movie directed by Ken Olin, Marian Rees Associaties (Marian Rees and Anne Hopkins). Don Johnson stars as a member of a United States Cavalry detachment refusing to slaughter its horses after being ordered to do so by General Douglas MacArthur. The movie follows the plight of the officers as they attempt to save the animals that the Army no longer needs as it modernizes toward a mechanized military. The movie claims to be based on a true story, but legend is all that exists to prove this event occurred.
The movie opens in 1932 when World War I veterans are rallying in Washington D.C. for war bonuses they were promised but never received from the government. The US Cavalry and Infantry are present for crowd control. The mounted cavalry is ordered by Maj. John Hardesty (Gunton) to present their sabers in order to hold back the protesters. First Sergeant John "Top" Libby (Johnson), along with three fellow soldiers, refuse to raise their arms because the demonstrators were men they served with during the war. As a consequence, their military careers are tarnished and they are relegated to duty at a remote post in the American Southwest.
Two years later, Lt. Marshall Buxton (Scheffer) arrives at his new post, where it is discovered during his interview with retiring Col. Stuart (Steiger) that he was assigned because of a fight and that many of the others there are also due to insubordination. Lt. Buxton meets Sergeants Libby, Quinlain, Mulcahey and Shattuck, who together manage the herd of remounts.
Col. Stuart is replaced as post commander by Hardesty, who has been promoted to colonel. Hardesty's mission is to aid in the transition to a mechanized army. To accomplish this, the horses at the outpost will have to be destroyed. Buxton is ordered to escort the animals to slaughter. While watching the horses being helplessly shot to death in a mass grave, Lt. Buxton decides, with the concurrence of Libby and the others, to end the massacre and drive the remaining herd to safety.
A manhunt ensues that forces the renegade men and horses north. Along the way, the men get a little help from Retired Col. Stuart in his standing with the war department and the Colonel's daughter (Gabrielle Anwar), who is a journalist. Many of the horses are lost during the journey, due to exhaustion and injuries.
After reaching the Canadian border and making a final run with the horses, the men are granted a pardon by President Roosevelt while dodging a light artillery attack by Hardesty's men, who have followed the recreants since their insurrection. Buxton's men and the remaining horses are allowed safe passage across the border by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. While Lt. Buxton decides to return to the United States to face charges, the remainder of his group decide to stay in Canada.
Adapted from: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Pursuit_of_Honor