Set in the Texas Republic in the early 1840s, a time in which three cultures?Anglo, Hispanic, and Comanche?were in furious conflict over the same harsh land, we are introduced to Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, the heroes of LONESOME DOVE.
Gus (David Arquette) and Call (Jonny Lee Miller) are young Rangers, ripe for adventure, and they get it with the Texas-Santa Fe expedition, an ill-conceived effort on the part of some freebooters and adventurers to capture Santa Fe and annex New Mexico.
Led by the land pirate Caleb Cobb (F. Murray Abraham), and guided by the legendary Bigfoot Wallace (Keith Carradine) and his mountain-man friend Shadrach (Harry Dean Stanton), the group fights several engagements with the great Comanche warchief Buffalo Hump (Eric Schweig), is whittled down by the silent Apache, Gomez (Victor Aaron), and is captured without resistance by the Mexican army. Marched south by a resolute Mexican officer, Captain Salazar (Edward James Olmos), they survive bear attacks, ice storms, and the rigors of the barren desert known as the Jornada del Muerto.
In the end, they arrive at the leper colony of San Lazaro, where black and white beans are drawn to determine which of the invaders will live and which will die.
Accompanying the men on this trek is the colorful, amply fleshed whore known as the Great Western?Matilda Jane Roberts (Patricia Childress). In Austin, Gus meets the love of his life, Clara Forsythe (Jennifer Garner), and, in El Paso, they encounter the great English lady, Lucinda Carey (Haviland Morris), who, in the startling climax, helps them survive a last encounter with the wild men, led by the great Comanche, Buffalo Hump.