Mackenzie, Ranald Slidell, MGEN

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Last Rank
Major General
Last Service Branch
Last MOS Group
Branch Immaterial (Officer)
Primary Unit
1870-1881, 4th US Cavalry
Service Years
1859 - 1884


Major General

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Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by MAJ John Moore (SaberAlpha 10) to remember Mackenzie, Ranald Slidell (Bad Hand), MGEN.

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Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
Jan 19, 1889
Location of Interment
U.S. Military Academy West Point Post Cemetery - West Point, New York
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1859, US Military Academy (West Point, NY)
 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)Army of the Potomac4th US Cavalry
  1862-1862, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  1862-1863, IX Corps, Army of the Potomac
  1863-1864, IX Corps, Army of the Potomac
  1864-1864, 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery Regiment
  1864-1865, Army of the James
  1864-1865, VI Corps, Army of the Potomac
  1865-1865, Army of the Potomac
  1865-1865, Department of Virginia, Military Division of the Atlantic
  1866-1867, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  1869-1870, 24th Infantry
  1870-1881, 4th US Cavalry
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1862-1865 Civil War
  1862-1862 Antietam Campaign (1862)/Battle of Antietam 16 to 18 September 1862
  1862-1862 Fredericksburg Campaign (1862)/Battle of Fredericksburg 11 to 15 December 1862
  1863-1863 Gettysburg Campaign (1863)/Battle of Gettysburg
  1864-1864 Civil War/Battle of Cedar Creek
  1864-1864 Civil War/Battle of Opequon
  1864-1864 Civil War/Valley Campaigns of 1864
  1864-1865 Civil War/Petersburg Campaign (1864-65)
  1865-1865 Civil War/Appomattox Campaign (1865)
  1867-1884 Indian Wars (US)
  1872-1872 Battle of North Fork (of the Red River)
  1874-1874 Battle of Red River
 Colleges Attended 
Williams CollegeUnited States Military Academy
  1857-1858, Williams College
  1859-1862, United States Military Academy3
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Jan 19, 1889, West Point Cemetery2
  Sep 07, 2016, General Photos1
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Mackenzie was born 27 July 1840 in Westchester Colunty, New York. After attending Williams College he was appointed to West Point from New Jersey. He graduated on 17 June 1862 at the top of his class and was assigned to the Army of the Potomac as a 2nd lieutenant and assistant engineer in the IX Corps.  He was wounded at the Second Battle of Bull Run. He directed the bridging operations during the Maryland campaign and was the engineering officer of Edwin E Sumner's Left Grand Division at Fredericksburg. Mackenzie was promoted to 1st lieutenant in the engineers on 3 March 1863. He was promoted to captain on 6 November 1863 having seen action at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.

He remained in the engineers at the beginning of the Overland campaign and was wounded in early operations at Petersburg. He was next assigned as a colonel commanding the 2nd Connecticut heavy artillery on 10 July 1864 and was in the Washington defenses during Jubal Early's raid.

Mackenzie was next sent to the Shenandoah Valley. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on 19 October 1864 and commanded the 2nd brigade/ 1st division/ VI Corps/ Army of the Shenandoah at 3rd Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek where he again was wounded.

Following the Shenandoah campaign the VI Corps returned to the Army of the Potomac and Mackenzie saw service in the trenches at Petersburg. He was then given command of the cavalry in the Army of the James and saw action at Five Forks and during the pursuit to Appomattox Court House. At Appomattox he took custody of all surrendered Confederate property. Following the surrender he assigned command of all cavalry in the Department of Virginia. In his three years of service during the war he had received seven brevets, including major general of volunteers and brigadier general in the regular army both on 13 March 1865, and was wounded 6 times.

Mackenzie mustered out of the volunteer service on 15 January 1866. He remained in the regular army and was appointed colonel of the 41st infantry, a newly formed black regiment that would two years later become part of the 24th US infantry. On 25 February 1867 he assumed command of the 4th US cavalry. The 4th was stationed along the Texas panhandle and assigned to drive renegade Indians back to their reservations. In October 1871 Mackenzie was wounded in a skirmish with Comanche's along the Brazos River. On 18 May 1873 he led an extralegal raid into Mexico to destroy a Kickapoo village thus ending Indian raids on Texas from across the Mexican border in the area under his command.

In July 1874 Philip H Sheridan, then overall commander of the US army, ordered five commands including the 4th cavalry, to converge on Indian hideouts across the border in Mexico. Following George A Custer's "last stand" at the Little Big Horn, Mackenzie was assigned command of the District of the Black Hills and of Camp Robinson, Nebraska. In October 1876 he forced Sioux Chief Red Cloud to return to the reservation. On 25 November he decisively defeated the Northern Cheyenne's. He was sent to Washington DC to command troops mustered in case of disturbances following the 1876 presidential election. the returned to the Black Hills. He was sent to South Texas when Indians again began raiding across the border and was again successful in stopping the raids after leading troops into Mexico. In 1879 he was sent to Colorado with 6 companies of cavalry to prevent an uprising of the Utes. On 2 September 1881 Mackenzie was sent to Arizona to take field command of all troops there and to subdue the Apaches. On 30 October 1881 he was assigned command of the District of New Mexico and tasked with subduing the Apaches and Navajos. Within a year the army was in control and Mackenzie was promoted to brigadier general.

On 27 October 1883 he was assigned to command the Department of Texas. He was planning to retire on land near Boerne, Texas. By 18 December he was suffering "paralysis of the insane" believed to have been caused by a blow to the head he received when he was thrown from a wagon in 1875. He was escorted to New York City and placed in the Bloomingdale Asylum. The army officially retired him on 24 March 1884. He was released from the asylum in June 1884 and went to live at his boyhood home in Morristown, New York. In 1886 he moved to his sister's house at New Brighton, Staten Island, New York, where he died 19 January 1889.

Leadership Style
Read masters thesis, "Colonel Ranald Slidell Mackenzie and the Apache Problem, 1881-1883" by James Weldon Smith, Texas Tech University.

Army Historical Register Vol 2,  MacKenzie, Ranald S. Col, 19 Oct 1871, Brazos River Tex, wounded.
Other Comments:
Indian Wars
The end of the Civil War brought a new surge of westward migration. Indian nations were determined to hold on to the lands they had taken back during the Civil War. In Texas the situation was acute with the Cheyenne and Arapahoe roaming at will in the north and the Comanche, Kiowa and Mescalero Apache controlling western Texas and eastern New Mexico. The 4th Cavalry was ordered into Texas to confront these formidable foes. The Regiment was filled with skilled Civil War veterans from both armies and outfitted with the latest and best equipment. On War Department records of that day the 4th Cavalry was rated the best cavalry regiment in the U.S. Army.

By November 1865 the Regiment had transferred to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. From here the 4th pacified the San Antonio area and conducted campaigns against Indians along the Mexican border. On 15 December 1870 twenty-nine year old Colonel Ranald Slidell Mackenzie, U.S. Cavalry assumed command of the Regiment. A brilliant leader, he commanded a Union cavalry corps at the age of twenty-four. He would command the 4th Cavalry for twelve years, leading it on some of its most famous campaigns.

On 1 April 1873 the Regiment moved to Fort Clark, Texas close to the Mexican border. To put a stop to cross-border raiding by Kickapoo and Apache Indians living under the protection of the Mexican government, Colonel Mackenzie was ordered by President Grant to ignore Mexican sovereignty and attack three co-located Indian villages near the town of Remolino some fifty-five miles south of the border from which the cross-border raiding originated. With utmost secrecy Mackenzie began training and preparations for the operation.

On 17 May 1873 six companies of the 4th (A,B,C,E,I,M) crossed the Rio Grande under cover of darkness and headed to Remolino. It was a difficult night march over unfamiliar terrain but by dawn they were in position and on Mackenzie's signal six companies of the 4th Cavalry in a mounted charge attacked the three villages. Mackenzie had planned the attack with anticipation of meeting stiff resistance. But unknown to him was the fact that many of the warriors had recently departed on a hunting expedition. Consequently the 4th met little resistance resulting in a quick victory losing one trooper killed and two wounded while the Indians suffered nineteen killed.

The few surviving warriors present in the villages along with some 40 women and children mounted on captured Indian horses were brought with the 4th Cavalry in its grueling ride back across the Rio Grande, reaching American soil at dawn on 19 May. The 4th Cavalry had covered a total distance of 160 miles, fought a battle and destroyed three Indian villages, all within some forty-eight hours. With their villages destroyed and their families having been placed on a reservation in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), the remaining Kickapoo warriors in Mexico were allowed to rejoin their relatives on the reservation thus ending the threat of further cross- border raids.


Bad Hand Nickname
He was wounded at Bull Run, Gettysburg and Jerusalem Plank Road. His wounding at Jerusalem Plank Road during the siege of Petersburg cost him two of his fingers and was the probable cause for his nickname, "BAD HAND". By June, 1864 he had been brevetted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Regular Army due to bravery.

Most Promising Young Officer
Mackenzie was known for his harsh discipline and was not well liked by troops serving under him, who called him the "Perpetual Punisher". However, he was respected by his peers and superiors for his skill and abilities, prompting General Ulysses S. Grant to refer to him as the "most promising young officer" in the entire Union army. He had been wounded six times and received seven brevets.

Trivia: Ghost of Mackenzie said to haunt Fort Concho, TX
Fort Concho??s most distinguished commander, Colonel Ranald Mackenzie, is said to haunt his old residence at the center of Officers Row. The ghost of Colonel Mackenzie has been seen by visitors and staff at the old house on more than one occasion. It is said that Colonel Mackenzie was fond of his house and its location because he could see almost everything that was going on in the fort at any given time. The house was also located in a position that afforded Colonel Mackenzie a full view of the old stone corral where his units 127 Indian captives were held over the winter of 1873.

While preparing for a winter event one December, a female staff member working in the Mackenzie house reported that she had heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps walking around the back of the room behind her. Just as the woman turned to see who was there, she was knocked up against a wall by an invisible blast of cold air. Frightened and disoriented, the women also noticed that the ??unique sound of knuckles cracking?? seemed to accompany the strange manifestation. Since Colonel Mackenzie was known for cracking his knuckles, there was no doubt in the woman??s mind that she had come face to face with the spirit of the famous commander.

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