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Ranald Slidell Mackenzie
[[Image:File:RSMackenzie.jpg|center|200px|border]]Ranald S. Mackenzie
Personal Information
Born: July 27, 1840(1840-07-27)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: January 19, 1889 (aged 48)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Nickname: "Bad Hand"
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: File:Flag of the United States.svg United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Brevet Major General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Unit: {{{unit}}}
Commands: 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery
24th U.S. Infantry Regiment
4th U. S. Cavalry
Battles: American Civil War

Indian Wars

  • Battle of Blanco Canyon
  • Battle of the North Fork
  • Red River War
    • Battle of Palo Duro Canyon
  • Dull Knife Fight
Awards: {{{awards}}}
Relations: John Slidell (uncle)
Alexander Slidell Mackenzie (father)
Alexander Slidell MacKenzie {brother}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Ranald Slidell Mackenzie (July 27, 1840 – January 19, 1889) was a career United States Army officer and general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, described by General Ulysses S. Grant as its most promising young officer. He also served with great distinction in the following Indian Wars.

Early life and education[]

Mackenzie was born in Westchester County, New York, the nephew of Confederate States of America diplomat John Slidell and the brother of Lt. Commander Alexander Slidell MacKenzie, United States Navy. He initially attended Williams College where he was a member of The Kappa Alpha Society and then accepted a nomination to the United States Military Academy where he graduated at the head of his class in 1862 and immediately joined the Union forces already fighting in the Civil War.

Military career[]

Commissioned a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers, Mackenzie served in the battles of Second Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, and through the Overland Campaign and Petersburg in 1864. 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.

In July 1864, he was appointed colonel of the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery. He moved with the VI Corps when it opposed Early's Washington Raid at the battle of Fort Stevens. He was again wounded at Opequon. He was given command of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, VI Corps and was again wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek. Upon his recovery, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers and assumed command of the Cavalry Division in the Army of the James, which he led at the battles of Five Forks and Appomattox Courthouse. He was appointed brevet major general of volunteers in 1865 for services in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. 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.

Service in the Indian Wars[]

After the Civil War, Mackenzie stayed in the regular army and reverted to his permanent rank of captain in the Army Corps of Engineers. He then served in the West during the Indian Wars and was appointed colonel in the regular army in 1867 in the 41st U.S. Infantry (later 24th U.S. Infantry, one of the Buffalo Soldier regiments) and fought against the Apache Indians in the Southwest. On February 25, 1871, he took command of the 4th U.S. Cavalry at Fort Richardson in Jacksboro, Texas. He led the regiment at the Battle of the North Fork in the Llano Estacado of West Texas, where he perfected a strategy for that unique terrain for defeating Indians who resisted the government policy of moving them to reservations. In late 1871 he was wounded a seventh time by an arrow in the leg.

Mackenzie fought in the Red River War, routing a combined Indian force at the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon far to the north from his headquarters at Fort Concho in San Angelo, Texas. In 1876, he defeated the Cheyenne in the Dull Knife Fight, which helped bring about the end of the Black Hills War. This led to his appointment as commander of the District of New Mexico in 1881. In 1882, he was appointed brigadier general and assigned to the Department of Texas (October 30, 1883). He bought a Texas ranch and was engaged to be married; however he began to demonstrate odd behavior which was attributed to a fall from a wagon at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in which he injured his head. Showing signs of mental instability, he was retired from the Army on March 24, 1884 for "General paresis of the insane".(Handbook of Texas bio (below))

Mackenzie died at his sister's home in New Brighton, Staten Island, New York, and is buried in West Point National Cemetery. The New York Times, which had once followed and reported on his career so closely over the years, printed but a short notice of his death. However, the Army and Navy Journal carried a lengthy article on his career and personal life, beginning the article with "The sorrow with which the Army will learn of the death of the once brilliant Ranald Slidell MacKenzie derives an additional pang from the recollection of the cloud which overshadowed his later years and consigned him to a living death."

The 1958-1959 syndicated television series, Mackenzie's Raiders, starring Richard Carlson in the title role, is loosely based on Mackenzie's time in Texas.

In 1964, the Texas historian Ernest Wallace published Ranald S. Mackenzie and the Texas Frontier, a definitive study of the officer.[1] Wallace also wrote the historical article "Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie's Expedition Across the South Plains" in Volume 38 of the West Texas Historical Association Year Book.[2]

See also[]


  1. "H. Allen Anderson, "Ernest Wallace"". Texas State Historical Association, ‘’Handbook of Texas’’. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
  2. "West Texas Historical Association Publications". Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J. Civil War High Commands. Stanford University Press. 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Robinson III, Charles M. Bad Hand: A Biography of General Ranald S. MacKenzie. State House Press. 1993. ISBN 1-880510-02-2.
  • Faust, Patricia, L. (ed.) Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War. Harper Perennial. 1991. ISBN 0-06-271535-6.

External links[]

de:Ranald Slidell MacKenzie ja:ラナルド・S・マッケンジー sv:Ranald Mackenzie