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Following the Civil War, the state of Texas experiences a period of chaos when the Rangers are disbanded and replaced by the State Police, an abusive, reckless group under the command of Adjutant General Slayden, who authorizes force and brutality without consideration of the law. In Galveston, ex-Rangers Gene Autry and Pat Buttram assist Colonel Jim Bellamy and his daughter Ann in publishing the Sentinel , which decries the unjust violence meted out by the State Police. Angry at the newspaper and at the colonel for hiring former Rangers, the State Police attack the paper and wound the colonel. Galvanized to dislodge Slayden and the State Police, Gene and Pat ride across Texas asking former Rangers to gather evidence against the State Police to force a confrontation in the state congress. Back in Galveston, Gene and Pat come across two State Police fleeing a small farm where they have stolen horses and murdered farmer Evans, crimes witnessed by his young daughter Cathy. Gene and Pat give chase and in the ensuing gunfight, Gene shoots one of the men, Clyde Chambers. Gene takes the now orphaned Cathy to Ann, but the colonel protests bringing a child into his home. The State Police try to arrest Gene for the murder of Chambers, but he and Pat flee and hide out in the surrounding hills for a month. Learning that Slayden is visiting the town of Comanche Wells, Gene and Pat intercept his stage and demand he drop the murder charges against Gene or they will have the colonel publish a list of businesses that Slayden has blackmailed to pay for State Police protection. Slayden orders the head of the State Police, Captain Yancy, to dismiss the charges against Gene. Later however, Slayden grows suspicious when it is reported that Gene has received bags of mail sent from all over Texas, but Gene and Pat escape with the mail. Slayden has Yancy try to discover the contents of the mail from Ann, but Cathy recognizes one of Yancy's men as one of her father's murderers, forcing Yancy to take Ann and Cathy hostage. Imprisoned in a small cabin outside of town, Cathy discovers she can escape through the chimney, and Ann sends her to get Gene. Meanwhile, the colonel and Gene search for Ann but are met by Slayden, who now knows Gene's letters are signed affidavits against the State Police from the former Rangers. Slayden demands the affidavits in exchange for Ann and Cathy and claims that Gene is still wanted for murder and Pat for being his accessory. Pat creates a diversion and a scuffle ensues. The colonel orders Gene and Pat to locate Ann, and then stay behind. On the trail, Gene meets Cathy, who tells them how to reach Ann. Returning to town, Cathy witnesses the State Police forcing the colonel into the Sentinel office to produce the Rangers' affidavits. The colonel attempts to fight his way out, but is shot and left for dead. Cathy tends to the colonel as Gene and Pat overpower Yancy and his men at the cabin and free Ann. Back at the Sentinel , while the colonel recovers, Cathy tells Gene she overheard Slayden say he was heading to Austin. Gene and Pat follow and commandeer Slayden's stage, placing him under state arrest. The State Police give chase only to be abruptly met by a large troop of former Rangers, who escort Gene and Slayden safely into Galveston. With the affidavits presented to the state congress, the State Police are abolished, and the reinstated Rangers bring law and order back to Texas.