The American West Episodes
The American West catapults you into a violent world of cowboys, Native Americans, outlaws and gunslingers. The ground runs red with the blood of their stories, from Jesse James to Billy the Kid. These men were the first to live the American dream, and the first to die for it.
The Civil War ends in 1865, and America looks to the West to repair the nation. As unrest in the South continues, rebel fighter Jesse James becomes a politically minded outlaw fighting to rekindle the flames of the Confederacy.
President Ulysses S. Grant comes into office and imposes Reconstruction policies to keep the South in check, but out West, conflict with the Sioux Indian leaders ‘Sitting Bull’ and ‘Crazy Horse’ threatens America’s continued expansion. For centuries, America’s Indian tribes have been pushed further and further West… and now, ‘Crazy Horse’ makes his stand against the U.S. military at “The Battle of 100 Slain.” After Crazy Horse’s victory, Grant and General William T. Sherman turn to fellow Civil War hero Lt. Colonel George Custer to fight the Indian tribes on the Plains. ‘Custer’s reprisal only further embroils the county in yet another war…
Two Front War
Between the deep unrest in the South and the mounting war with the Plains Indians in the West, America’s military is stretched thin. Rather than continue a costly war with the Sioux Indians, President Ulysses S. Grant decides to uphold a peace policy with the Sioux. The quelled tensions in the West allow Thomas Durant and the Union Pacific to complete the country’s first Transcontinental Railroad, opening the floodgates for America’s Western settlers. However, the railroad boom also provides outlaw Jesse James with a new target, and the Southern newspapers seize on James’s train robbery exploits, turning him into a Southern hero.
Union spymaster Allan Pinkerton is brought in to pursue James and his gang, resulting in the murder of one of Pinkerton’s agents. As America’s railroad boom collapses, President Grant’s hopes to repair the nation by expanding West begin to collapse as “The Panic of 1873” sends the country plummeting into a severe economic depression.
Blood & Gold
With America suffering in the throes of an international economic depression, Lt. Colonel George Custer confirms the rumour of a gold strike in sacred Sioux Indian territory – The Black Hills. In a secret policy meeting, President Ulysses S. Grant decides to break his peace with the Sioux, and forces Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull off the land the government had promised them. Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse recruit one of the largest Indian tribal alliances in history, and prepare to combat the U.S. military.
In Missouri, Jesse James goes head-to-head with Allan Pinkerton’s agents. Pinkerton’s botched raid on the James farmhouse proves deadly, and the Southern press vilifies the Pinkertons for spilling innocent blood. James takes his revenge on the Pinkertons, and continues his crusade against the Union. But in the spring of 1876, all eyes are turned to the West as Custer arrives on the plains to intercept Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse at the Little Bighorn River.
Seeking to reclaim the glory of the Civil War, Lt. Colonel George Custer brazenly charges into the Indian camp at The Battle of Little Bighorn. Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull defeat Custer’s forces, down to the last man. The shocking news of “Custer’s Last Stand” reaches President Ulysses S. Grant back East during America’s bicentennial, and it couldn’t come at a worse time.
With a critical Presidential election looming in 1876, Jesse James brings his fight to the North as he attacks a Minnesota bank in the infamous Northfield Raid. The disastrous robbery sends James into hiding as the nation votes in the bitterest election in its history. President Grant prepares for the threat of another Southern uprising until the wheeling and dealing of the “Corrupt Bargain” names President Rutherford B. Hayes.
With Reconstruction ended, Hayes and General William T. Sherman turn back to the situation in the West, aiming to subdue Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse by targeting the most crucial element to their way of life: the buffalo.
After their defeat at Battle of Little Bighorn, the U.S. Military seizes the Black Hills, forcing Sitting Bull to flee to Canada, and Crazy Horse to turn himself in to a reservation. With the buffalo eliminated from the Great Plains, cattle take their place, populating the West with rough boomtowns like Dodge City, requiring the unorthodox tactics of lawmen like Wyatt Earp.
As the railroads build further west to capitalize on the cattle boom, in Lincoln County, New Mexico, a young cattle thief named Billy the Kid gets caught up in a corrupt war. And as Jesse James tries to adjust to an anonymous life in hiding, Crazy Horse decides he’s had enough of life on a reservation – but winds up paying the ultimate price.
The Big Killing
As the conflict in Lincoln County erupts into an all-out war, Billy the Kid becomes the scapegoat for all of the violence, forcing him to flee to the “outlaw haven” of the West: Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Sitting Bull follows the last remaining buffalo herd back into America, and fights a duel for his people’s survival; but he knows that he’s running out of time.
As the West continues to grow more and more lawless, Jesse James decides to come out of retirement, but with Southern Reconstruction ended, it’s now just about ego and money. As Jesse heads to Las Vegas, New Mexico to recruit a new gang, the two most notorious outlaws in American history are about to meet face to face.
The invention of electricity symbolizes a new era, and as America continues to modernize and become increasingly reliant on Western resources, the outlaw elements and the lawless West can no longer be tolerated.
Jesse James and Billy the Kid meet and part ways, but when Jesse returns to robbing trains, he discovers that America has changed, and the Governor of Missouri puts a $10,000 bounty on his head. In New Mexico, a powerful cattle baron arranges the election of a sheriff with one purpose: capturing Billy the Kid.
In Tombstone, in an effort to solve a stagecoach robbery, lawman Wyatt Earp makes an ill-fated deal that will bring him to violent showdown at the O.K. Corral.
The Last Vendetta
As America continues its steady march of progress towards a new century, the final crackdown on the lawless West reaches its bloody climax.
After the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and its violent aftermath results in his brother’s death, Wyatt Earp takes the law into his own hands with his “Vendetta Ride,” leaving a trail of blood across Arizona and forcing him to flee the territory.
Billy the Kid escapes from prison, but lawman Pat Garrett tracks him down, and shoots and kills him; Billy dies at the tender age of 21. With a bounty on his head, Jesse James recruits brothers Charley and Robert Ford to protect him, but Robert betrays Jesse and puts a bullet in his head instead.
Sitting Bull returns to America and surrenders to a reservation, soon leaving to tour the country and become a spokesman for his people in an effort to preserve the Sioux way of life. When the ‘Ghost Dance’ causes fear of another Sioux uprising, Sitting Bull becomes its scapegoat, and is shot and killed; two weeks later, what remains of his people are massacred at Wounded Knee.
That same year, the American frontier is officially “closed,” but already, nostalgia begins for the days of the lawless west, and the lives of the men who defined it.