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Spare the Rod, Spoil the Bandit

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Hold it right there, outlaw!
This article is littered with spoilers, so I reckon you might ought'a mosey on down the road if you don't want to read any plot details.

It ain't about the money, Marshal. These are people's lives. People's homes!

–A Victim

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Bandit is the eleventh mission in Red Dead Redemption.

To view the mission tree, see:

Main article: Missions in Redemption/Tree


Leigh Johnson asks John Marston to help in silencing a group of outlaws who have been terrorizing a town. They form a posse of Marston, Marshal Johnson, Eli, Jonah and Dell Hopkins and ride out towards Ridgewood Farm.


Mission Prerequisites

Before this mission becomes available, the player must complete:

Mission Objectives

To complete this mission, the player must:

  • Ride with Marshal Johnson to Ridgewood Farm.
  • Follow the circling vultures en route.
  • Free all hostages at the farm.
  • Track the remaining bandits south.
  • Defeat the bandits.

Mission Details

The player will start off outside the Sheriff's office. After getting details of the player's mission, one will mount their horse and ride with the Marshal and his men. As the posse nears the farm, they will notice vultures flying high above. After investigating two campsites filled with bodies (make sure not to hang around the campsites too long or the player will fall behind), the posse rounds up at Ridgewood Farm. The group searches the area for any signs of life, and afterward Marshal Johnson calls the posse to the barn, hoping to find either survivors or bandits inside.

After the Marshal, deputies and Marston find a horrific display of blood, slaughtered animals and even a stripped body hanging from the rafters, a young girl runs out of the barn, explaining that the bandits are holed up inside the Ridgewood Farmhouse in the middle of the ranch. As the posse then heads towards the house to investigate, bandits pour out and a gunfight ensues.

The group then dispatches all of the bandits and heads inside, watching carefully around the doorways and walls as Marston makes his way upstairs to save the few remaining survivors. The player will be able to save a couple before they face up against a bandit using a woman as a human shield. This shot must be just right and executed quickly, or else the bandit will shoot her in the head and the player will be forced to restart the mission.

After the violence, the survivors are rounded up and questioned for answers about more bandits. The hostages notify the Marshal of the location of a group of bandits, and the posse sets out in pursuit. Deputy Eli mentions that this looks to be the work of Williamson's brutal gang.

After catching up with the bandits, a cutscene takes place showing Bill Williamson and John Marston talking once again. This time, however, Williamson runs away, sending his gang and right hand man Norman Deek to finish the job. The posse takes cover in a broken-down shack called Mercer Station while fending off the bandits. After two waves of bandits, the mission will end with a cutscene showing Norman Deek getting caught.

Mission Dialogues

Main article: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Bandit/dialogues

Mission Failure

The mission will fail if the player:

  • Assaults or kills Marshal Johnson, Deputy Eli or Deputy Jonah.
  • Assaults or kills Marshal Johnson's, Deputy Eli's or Deputy Jonah's horse.
  • Abandons Marshal Johnson and the deputies.
  • Assaults or kills the hostages.
  • Let's any hostages get killed.
  • Strays too far from the mission location.
  • Breaks the law.
  • Kills a dog.
  • Commits vandalism.
  • Assaults or kills townsfolk.
  • Dies.

Mission Complete Unlockables


  • During the mission the player will receive a Winchester Repeater if they have not purchased or stolen one already.
  • It is possible to skip having to even go inside the farm house. After the barn encounter, shoot all the bandits who come outside on the front porch as soon as there's only a few dots left, run around the left side of the house around to the back, and the player can shoot the bandits that are upstairs through the windows.
  • There is another mission later on in the game called "Spare the Love, Spoil the Child".
  • If "Jenny's Faith" has not already been completed, Jenny will be seen at the rock where she is laying.
  • Eli can be seen drinking Nigel West Dickens' Elixir before leaving Marshal Johnson's office.
  • A naked castrated man can be seen hanged in the barn. Another nudity scene can be found in the mission "The Gates of El Presido where Reyes is having sex with a woman.
  • The place the bandits burned down is possibly Mercer Station. It's the closest burnt-down place to Ridgewood Farm. Coincidentally, it is also used for cover during the final shooting with Bill Williamson's men.
  • This is one of the few ways to obtain the Winchester Repeater for free; another being clearing out Tumbleweed (the sheriff there must survive in order for this to happen).
  • The screenshot shown for this mission is one of the earliest released by Rockstar. The screenshot shows Marston wearing the Legend of the West Outfit with a Bolt Action Rifle on his back. Neither the outfit, nor the weapon, are obtainable at this point in the game. (Unless the player uses cheats).


Video Walkthrough


Completing this mission contributes toward the following Trophy/Achievement:

Gold Ps3 gold trophy
Attain 100% List in the singleplayer game completion list.

Red Dead Redemption mission walkthroughs
New Austin Chapter
"Exodus in America""New Friends, Old Problems""Obstacles in Our Path""This is Armadillo, USA""Women and Cattle""Wild Horses, Tamed Passions""A Tempest Looms""The Burning"
"Political Realities in Armadillo""Justice in Pike's Basin""Spare the Rod, Spoil the Bandit""Hanging Bonnie MacFarlane""The Assault on Fort Mercer"
"Old Swindler Blues""You Shall Not Give False Testimony, Except for Profit""Liars, Cheats and Other Proud Americans""Can a Swindler Change His Spots?""The Sport of Kings, and Liars"
"Exhuming and Other Fine Hobbies""A Gentle Drive with Friends""Let the Dead Bury Their Dead"
"A Frenchman, a Welshman and an Irishman""Man is Born Unto Trouble""On Shaky's Ground""We Shall Be Together in Paradise"
New AustinNuevo ParaisoWest ElizabethMarston RanchRemember My Family

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