In Silver Lode, as Fourth of July celebrations get underway, four men--leader Fred McCarty, Johnson, Kirk and Wicker--ride into town, demanding to know the whereabouts of Dan Ballard. The men are directed to the home of wealthy Zachary Evans, whose daughter Rose is about to marry Dan, a local rancher. After interrupting the ceremony, McCarty identifies himself as a U.S. Marshal and accuses Dan of shooting McCarty's brother in the back two years before and stealing $20,000 from him. Although Dan claims that McCarty is a rustler and killer, McCarty produces papers certifying his own position, along with an arrest warrant for Dan. Sure that Dan soon will be exonerated, Rose and Zach insist on continuing with the wedding, but Dan demurs. Thad Taylor, Dan's lawyer, then offers to take McCarty's paperwork to Judge Cranston, but after he leaves, McCarty demands that Dan prepare to ride to California, where the killing took place. To the annoyance of McCarty, all of the wedding guests accompany Dan to his house and attest to his integrity. In his stable, Dan admits to Rose that he did kill McCarty's brother but did so in self-defense. Meanwhile, concerned that McCarty might kill Dan in revenge, Sheriff Woolley forms a posse, which includes Rose's brother Mitch, to escort McCarty and his deputies. Surrounded by unhappy townspeople, McCarty goes to Cranston's house to discuss Dan's situation, and although the judge is sympathetic to Dan, he upholds McCarty's extradition request. Dan then begs McCarty for two hours to explain himself to the town, and McCarty, anxious to appear reasonable, agrees. Dan's first task is to send two telegrams to sheriffs in California, asking them to confirm McCarty's identity, but Paul Herbert, the telegrapher, discovers that the wires are down and rides off to repair them. Dan next goes to the saloon and begs Dolly, a dance hall girl and former lover, to use her charms to obtain information about McCarty's deputies. Dolly, who is jealous of Rose, refuses to help, so Dan approaches the men himself, offering them $1,000 to expose McCarty. Johnson takes the bait and, meeting secretly with Dan in the courthouse, demands $5,000 to implicate McCarty. Dan heads to the Evanses' and asks Zach for the cash, which Zach happily gives. Mitch then helps Dan elude McCarty and Kirk and rushes back to the saloon to find Johnson. While Dan and Johnson slip away to the livery stable, Dolly, who has had a change of heart, distracts Wicker. Dan, however, discovers where Dan and Johnson are and sneaks into the stable through the loft. After Johnson tells Dan that McCarty had his marshal papers forged, killed the forger and cut the telegraph wires, McCarty reveals himself and shoots Johnson. Now alone with Dan, McCarty offers to end his pursuit if Dan pays him the $20,000 he won from his brother in a poker game. Unknown to McCarty, Sheriff Woolley has also entered through the loft and overhears McCarty. Woolley and McCarty exchange gunfire, but while McCarty is barely wounded, Woolley dies. When Cranston and the Evanses show up, Dan has two guns trained on McCarty, who accuses Dan of murdering Woolley and Johnson. As Rose is now his only defender, Dan tries to flee town but runs into the returning telegrapher. After Dan begs Paul to send the telegrams, Wicker, Kirk and Mitch catch up to him, and Dan ends up killing the deputies and wounding Mitch. Dan then sneaks into Dolly's room in the saloon, and she hides him when McCarty comes looking for him. Desperate, McCarty deputizes all the townsmen and begins a house-by-house search. Dan escapes to the Evanses' and instructs Rose to make sure Paul sends the telegrams. Zach finds the two together, however, and shoots Dan when he tries to leave. Only wounded, Dan overwhelms the older man and, just as McCarty bursts in, flees once more. Dan then takes Cranston hostage and fights off McCarty long enough to seek refuge in the church. Although McCarty bursts into the church demanding that Rev. Field turn Dan over, Field refuses to help. Rose and Dolly, meanwhile, join forces at the telegraph office and cajole Paul, who sent Dan's wires but has not yet received a reply, to write a phony return telegram, implicating McCarty as a criminal. Rose runs to the church with the fake reply, just as McCarty corners Dan in the bell tower and begins firing on him. The telegram exonerates Dan, and McCarty is killed when one of his bullets richochets off a bell and pierces his heart. In the telegraph office, Dolly then learns that a real telegram has been received, and Dan's innocence is confirmed.