Dawn, Christmas Day, 1916, the Taylor Ranch, Big Bend country, Texas. The Big House is filled with family and guests from nearby Terlingua for a happy holiday celebration. Texas Ranger Captain Jesse Taylor, and his nephew, U.S. Army 8th Cavalry Lt. Samuel Taylor, West Point Class of 1916, enjoy coffee and smokes on the south porch. The early risers are disrupted by the sound of running horses followed by thirty-six mounted bandidos appearing between outbuildings. Red-shirted Jess Colorado, a deserter from Pancho Villa's army, brandishes a shining saber and leads the shooting and shouting intruders. Jesse tells Samuel to make pistol smoke while he runs into the house shouting an alarm. He returns to the porch with his Winchester rifle and helps Samuel disrupt the attack. After a stand off and failed negotiations, the raiders leave the ranch with a herd of stolen horses. They leave behind eight murdered women, children, and cowboys. The next day the Taylors bury their dead, and a cowboy posse follows Jesse across the Rio Grande. They plan to put out some bandido lamps and bring back those horses.