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Besieged by the forces of lawlessness, the town of Rawhide is near collapse when Jim Bates, one of its leading citizens, calls for the formation of a vigilante committee. Bates is opposed by rancher Ruth Rand and her foreman, Bill Willis, who send for "Silent" Tim Smith, the greatest lawman of them all. To placate Ruth, Bates suggests organizing the vigilantes until Tim arrives. In reality, Bates is one of the leaders of the outlaws whom are plaguing the town. Tim, accompanied by his sidekick Noisy, rides to Rawhide, where he poses as Higgins, an outlaw whom Bates is expecting. Bates decides to introduce Higgins as Tim, and Tim, hoping to discover the boss behind Bates, accepts the role. Tim plans to smoke out Bates's boss in a robbery of a gold shipment, but his plans go awry when Ruth, suspicious of Tim, switches the gold for rocks and the boss fails to appear at the robbery. Tim is getting ready to close in on Bates's boss when the real Higgins rides into town and tells Bates that Tim is really a lawman. Bates then cleverly plots Tim's death by exposing him as an impostor and sending the vigilantes on his trail while the rustlers steal Ruth's cattle and stampede them through town. Noisy overhears their plans, however, and riding Tim's horse, decoys the vigilantes, while the real Tim rides to stop Bates. Noisy leads the vigilantes to town, where Bates is exposed as the real brains behind the outlaws and meets his death under the hooves of the stampeding cattle.