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Ranald Slidell Mackenzie

Ranald Slidell Mackenzie
Ranald Slidell Mackenzie

Ranald Slidell Mackenzie was born in Westchester County, New York on July 27, 1840 the passed away January 19, 1889. During his lifetime he made a career with United States Army and was a general during the American Civil War in the Union Army. He's also noted for his many battles during the Indian Wars. He came from a family of military John Slidell was a diplomat and politician and his nephew. John had two younger brothers who were also high-ranking one as a rear Adm. the other a United States Navy officer. His father was a popular author and naval officer. His grandfather John Slidell was a political powerbroker and a bank president in New York City. Ranald Slidell MacKenzie also known as (Bad Hand) attended Williams College and was a member of Kappa Alpha Society. He received a nomination which he accepted United States Military Academy from which he graduated in 1862 at the head of the class. He then joined the Union forces that were fighting in the Civil War.

Upon graduation from the Military Academy Ranald Slidell Mackenzie was commissioned second lieutenant and appointed to the Army of the Potomac. In two years time Ranald earned the rank of Col. while fighting in eight primary battles. In Shenandoah Valley he led his troops in 5 battles and became a brevet Major-General in his final crusade against Robert E Lee. He later commanded Calvary troops in the department of Virginia in three years time he was wounded six times and received seven brevets.

In 1867 a newly formed black Regiment the Forty-first infantry fell under his command as colonel, that later became part of the Twenty-fourth United States infantry. The unit eventually was assigned to Fort McKavett Texas. He assumed command on February 25, 1871 of the fourth United States Calvary at Fort Concho which was moved one month later to Fort Richardson.

In an effort to drive renegade Indians back to the reservations he led his troops into uncharted Panhandle and Llano Estacado. It was during one of the skirmishes with group of Comanche in Blanco Canyon that he was wounded, another victory that he's known for near the town of Lefors in September 1872. He was then assigned to Fort Clark in 1873 to stop the raids against Texas livestock from the Indian raiders out of Mexico. He took 2000 US Troops into Mexico and was finally able to take 40 captives after burning down three Kickapoo villages near Remolino, Coahuila, Mexico. The destruction of these villages and effective border patrols ended these raids.
Lt. Gen. Philip H Sheridan in July 1874 sent out five commands to overtake the Indian hideouts along the eastern edge of the Llano Estacado. In the most daring battle of this campaign Ranald Slidell Mackenzie wiped out five Indian villages in the Palo Duro Canyon on September 28. His last engagement with the Comanche was on November 5 near Tahoka Lake where he won his last battle. His prior battle in Palo Duro Canyon where he had destroyed the Indians horses helped make this possible by limiting their abilities.

Ranald Slidell Mackenzie was given command of Fort Sill in March 1875, which included control of the Comanche – Kiowa and the Cheyenne – Arapaho Indian reservations. Quanah Parker with 407 followers and 1500 horses arrived at the Fort on June 02, 1875 thus ending the Red River War.

This of course was not the end of the fighting for Mackenzie; in 1876 he was given command of the District of the Black Hills and of Camp Robinson, Nebraska. Here he forced Sioux Chief Red Cloud and his people to return to the reservation. This was followed by his defeating the northern Cheyenne's which ultimately led to his temporary assignment by Washington to keep the peace should there be disturbances after the presidential election of 1876.
In late 1877 Indians from Mexico were again raiding South Texas, and Mackenzie was reassigned in March 1878 to Fort Clark. In June he took an expedition into Mexico, the Mexican government was prompted to act due to his invasion of their country, the raiding stopped. He was later sent to Colorado to deal with the Ute's, he informed them if they did not return to their reservations the end result would be war. The Chiefs then decided to return to Utah. He was then sent to Arizona to deal with the Apache. From there he was dispatched to take command of the District of New Mexico to deal with the Apache and Navajo tribes. In less than one year the army had control of the situation and he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, however was gravely ill. He was reassigned command of the Department of Texas on October 27, 1883. He purchased land near Boerne and plan on marrying and retiring however less than two months later it became impossibility because he suffered from "paralysis of the insane". He eventually was placed in the Bloomingdale Asylum in New York City and was retired from the Army on March 24, 1884. In June they moved into his childhood home in Moorestown in 1866 he was again moved to New Brighton, Staten Island where he passed away January 19, 1889. Ranald Slidell Mackenzie's final resting place is at West Point in a military cemetery.