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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1862

Vol. II

(Born N. Y.)

Ranald S. Mackenzie​1

(Ap'd at Large)


Ranald Slidell Mackenzie: Born July 27, 1840, New York, NY.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1858, to June 17, 1862, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Second Lieut., Corps of Engineers, June 17, 1862.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1862‑66: as Asst. Engineer, 9th Army Corps, July 10 to Aug. 29, 1862, in the Northern Virginia Campaign, being engaged in the Action of Kelly's Ford, Aug. 20, 1862, — and Battle of Manassas, Aug. 29, 1862, where he was wounded;

(Bvt. First Lieut., Aug. 29, 1862, for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Manassas, Va.)

on sick leave of absence, disabled by wound, Aug. 29 to Oct. 19, 1862; attached to Engineer Battalion, Oct. 19 to Nov. 16, 1862, in the Maryland Campaign (Army of the Potomac), being engaged in constructing, repairing, and guarding bridges; in the Rappahannock Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Dec., 1862, to June, 1863, being engaged

(First Lieut., Corps of Engineers, Mar. 3, 1863)

in the Battle of Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 1862 (as Engineer of General Sumner's Grand Division), — and Battle of Chancellorsville, May 2‑4,

(Bvt. Captain, May 3, 1863, for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Va.)

1863; in the Pennsylvania Campaign, in command of Engineer Company (Army of the Potomac), June‑July, 1863, being engaged in laying bridges over the Occoquan, June 14, 1863, and across the Potomac at Edwards' Ferry, June 21, 1863, — Battle of Gettysburg, July 1‑3, 1863,

(Bvt. Major, July 4, 1863, for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pa.)

and constructing bridge over the Potomac, at Berlin, Md., July 18, 1863; in the Rapidan Campaign (Army of the Potomac), being engaged in constructing, repairing, and guarding bridges over the Rappahannock, Aug. 1‑23 and Sep. 1‑22, over Bull Run, near Blackburn's Ford, Oct. 17, across the Rappahannock, at Kelly's Ford, Nov. 7, and over the Rapidan, near Germania Ford, Nov. 26‑30, 1863, — and in making roads and reconnaissances,

(Captain, Corps of Engineers, Nov. 6, 1863)

building blockhouses, and erecting defensive works, Aug., 1863, to May, 1864; in the Richmond Campaign, in command of Engineer Company (Army of the Potomac), May 4 to June 10, 1864, being engaged in building bridges, constructing rifle trenches, and repairing roads, — Battle of the Wilderness, May 5‑6, 1864, — Combat of Todd's Tavern, May 7, 1864, — and Battles about Spottsylvania, May 10‑15, 1864; in command of Regiment (Army of the Potomac), in the Richmond Campaign, June 10‑22, 1864, being engaged in the Siege of Petersburg, June 17‑22, when he was wounded; on sick leave of absence, disabled

(Bvt. Lieut.‑Colonel, June 18, 1864, for Gallant and Meritorious Services before Petersburg, Va.)

by wound, June 22 to July 9, 1864; in command of Regiment, 6th Army Corps, in the Washington Campaign, July, 1864, being engaged in

(Colonel, 2d Connecticut Heavy Artillery Volunteers, July 10, 1864)

 p841  the Defense of the Capital, July 11‑12, 1864; in command of Brigade, 6th Army Corps, in the Shenandoah Campaign, Aug. 15 to Oct. 19, 1864, being engaged in the Battle of Opequan, Sep. 19, 1864, — Battle of Fisher's Hill, Sep. 22, 1864, — and Battle of Cedar Creek, Oct. 19, 1864, where he

(Bvt. Colonel, Oct. 19, 1864, for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Cedar Creek, Va.)

was wounded; on sick leave of absence, disabled by wound, Oct. 19 to Nov.,

(Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Oct. 19, 1864)

1864; in the Siege of Petersburg, commanding Brigade, 6th Army Corps, Dec., 1864, to Mar., 1865; in command of Cavalry Division (Army of

(Bvt. Brig.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865, for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Field during the Rebellion)

the James), Mar.‑Apr., 1865, being engaged in the Battle of Five Forks,

(Bvt. Maj.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Mar. 13, 1865, for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Field during the Rebellion)

Apr. 1, 1865, — Pursuit of General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Lee's Rebel Army, Apr. 3‑9, 1865, — and Skirmish and Capitulation of Appomattox C. H., Apr. 9, 1865; at Richmond, Va., commanding Cavalry Division, Apr. to Aug., 1865; in waiting orders, Aug. 11, 1865, to Jan. 15, 1866; and on leave of absence,

(Mustered out of Volunteer Service, Jan. 15, 1866)

Jan. 15 to Feb. 28, 1866.

Served: as Asst. Engineer in the construction of the Defenses of Portsmouth Harbor, N. H., Feb. 28, 1866, to May, 1867; on frontier

(Colonel, 41st Infantry, Mar. 6, 1867)

duty in command of Baton Rouge, La., May 26 to June 24, 1867, — Brownsville, Tex., to Aug. 8, 1867, — Ringgold Barracks, Tex., to Feb., 1868, — Ft. Clark, Tex., to Mar., 1869 (Court Martial at San Antonio,

(Transferred to 24th Infantry, Mar. 6, 1867)

Tex., Mar. 31 to Nov. 28, 1868), — and Ft. McKavett, Tex., to Apr. 19,

(Transferred to 4th Cavalry, Dec. 15, 1869)

1870; on leave of absence, to Oct. 1, 1870; as Member of Special Board, at Washington, D. C., Oct. 5, 1870, to Jan. 3, 1871; on frontier duty at Ft. Concho, Tex., Feb. 24 to Mar. 27, 1871, — Ft. Richardson, Tex., Apr. 8, 1871, to Dec. 28, 1872, except while on Expedition against hostile Indians, Aug. 2 to Nov. 8, 1871, and June 14 to Nov. 5, 1872, being engaged in the Action near mouth of McLellan Creek, Tex., Sep. 29, 1872, — and Ft. Concho, Tex., Jan. 1 to Sep. 7, 1873; on sick leave of absence to Feb. 11, 1874; on frontier duty at Ft. Clark, Tex., to Jan. 30, 1875, except while commanding Expedition in the field, July 31, 1874, to Jan. 9, 1875, — Ft. Sill, I. T., Mar. 16, 1875, to Aug. 18, 1876, — Camp Robinson, Neb., to Nov., 1876, — command of District of Black Hills, Aug. 14 to Nov., 1876, — and commanding the cavalry on Powder River Expedition, Nov. 1, 1876, to Jan., 1877; under orders of the Secretary of War, at Washington, D. C., Jan. 12 to Mar. 13, 1877; on frontier duty at Camp Robinson, Neb., Mar. 13 to June, 1877, being in command of District of Black Hills, Mar. 13 to May 26, 1877, — Ft. Sill, I. T., June 30 to Dec. 17, 1877, — and Ft. Clark, Tex., commanding District of Nueces, Jan. to Oct. 25, 1878; as Member of Equipment Board, at Washington, D. C., Dec., 1878, to Mar. 31, 1879; in command of regiment, Ft. Clark, Tex., and District of Nueces, Apr. 30 to Sep. 24, 1879; as witness before a Civil Court in Kansas, to Oct. 27, 1879; in command of regiment, Ft. Garland, Col., and Column of Ute Expedition, to May 19, 1880; in the field commanding Ute Expedition in Colorado, to Sep. 14, 1880; as witness  p842 before Warren Court of Inquiry, to Oct. 28, 1880; on delay, leave of absence, and conference with Commanding General of Department of Missouri, to Jan. 15, 1881; in command of the Department of Arkansas, to May 10, 1881, — of all troops in the Uncompahgre, Col., June 6 to Sep. 7, 1881, — and of Battalion to succor the forces in Arizona during the Apache troubles in that Territory, to Oct. 30, 1881; in command of regiment and District of New Mexico, to Nov., 1882; in command of

(Brigadier-General, U. S. Army, Oct. 26, 1882)

District of New Mexico, Feb. 21 to Oct. 27, 1883, — and Department of Texas, Nov. 1 to Dec. 19, 1883; on sick leave of absence to Mar. 24, 1884.

Retired from Active Service, Mar. 24, 1884,
for Disability in Line of Duty.

Died, Jan. 19, 1889, at New Brighton, N. J.: Aged 49.

Buried, West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY.

Biographical Sketch.

Brigadier-General Ranald S. Mackenzie, born July 27, 1840, was the son of Commodore Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, U. S. Navy. As a boy he was noted for courage and character, but was not supposed to be gifted with mental brilliancy. At the age of fifteen he entered Williams College; but, before completing his junior course, he became a Cadet at West Point. Notwithstanding the confident predictions of many that he would fail to graduate at the Military Academy, he took the first honors in the class of 1862, and was promoted to the Corps of Engineers.

The Rebellion then being waged, Lieutenant Mackenzie was at once ordered to the field to participate in the Northern Virginia Campaign, in which he was wounded, Aug. 29, 1862, at the Battle of Manassas. For the two years following he was attached to the Engineer Battalion, being engaged in the various conflicts and operations of the Army of the Potomac in the Maryland, Rappahannock, Pennsylvania, Rapidan, and Richmond Campaigns, receiving no less than four brevets for his "gallant and meritorious services." Though exhibiting great aptitude for a higher position than that of a Captain of Engineers, his deserts were not rewarded till July 10, 1864, when he was appointed Colonel, 2d Connecticut Heavy Artillery, and placed in command of a brigade in the 6th Army Corps. Though not then twenty-four years old and but two years in service, he now entered upon the most brilliant period of his military career, in which he displayed the high qualities of an able, energetic, and daring commander. After participating in the defense of the Capital against Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Early's raiders, Mackenzie was engaged in all the hard-fought battles of the Shenandoah Campaign of 1864, and, as commander of a cavalry division of the Army of the James, accompanied General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Sheridan in the final actions and pursuit of the Rebel Army till its capitulation at Appomattox C. H. For these noted achievements, during which he had again and again been wounded in the thickest of the fight, he was promoted a Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, and received three more brevets, making seven in a service of less than three years. Well might General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Grant say: "I regarded Mackenzie as the most promising young officer in the army. Graduating at West Point, as he did, during the second year of the war, he had won his way up to the command of a corps before its close. This he did upon his own merit and without influence."

At the conclusion of the Rebellion, Mackenzie served a short time as an Officer of Engineers, when, upon the re‑organization of the Regular  p843 Army, he was further rewarded, Mar. 6, 1867, by promotion to the Colonelcy of the 41st Infantry. By strict discipline he soon made this the crack colored regiment of the army, and with it, for two years, occupied various posts on the Texas frontier. Then he was transferred to the 24th Infantry, and nine months later to the 4th Cavalry, to him a more congenial arm of service. After joining this regiment, in the spring of 1871, he was ordered to the "Staked Plains," then overrun by various bands of hostile Indians, which were constantly making forays for plunder upon the more easterly settlements. In some of their raids they penetrated into the Mexican territory even to the Gulf shore, which our widely separated infantry posts could not prevent. Mackenzie, therefore, decided to send a sufficient force to grapple with these marauders on their own hunting-grounds. Though at first unsuccessful, he again, in 1872, fell upon them, and surprised a large camp at McLellan's Creek, defeating the Indians with considerable loss, and capturing over a hundred women and children, for which he was complimented by the War Department in general orders. Turning then his attention to the southern frontier, which the Kickapoos and Lipans raided with impunity, for, when pursued, they escaped into Mexican territory, Mackenzie took the responsibility of crossing the Rio Grande in 1873, and by a forced night-march successfully attacked the Indian camps at daylight, and before sunrise was back in Texas with his large captures. This violation of friendly territory, though it led to much diplomatic correspondence, was approved by our Government.

From July, 1874, to Jan., 1875, Mackenzie was again upon the warpath, punishing marauding Comanches, Kiowas, and Cheyennes, whose main camp he attacked, Sep. 28, killing and capturing nearly 2,000 horses. In 1875, from his headquarters at Ft. Sill, I. T., Mackenzie, by his energetic measures, effected a complete change in the disordered condition of Indian affairs; in 1876 he captured Red Cloud, who was deposed as a chief, and brought his Powder River Expedition to a success­ful conclusion by the surprise of the Indian camp on the Big Horn Mountain; and from 1876 to 1883 he was constantly engaged in quelling Indian disturbances, which required great audacity, military skill, masterly tact, sound judgment, and keen insight into Indian character, all of which qualities Mackenzie possessed in an eminent degree.

For his brilliant yet brief services, when but forty‑two years old, Mackenzie, Oct. 26, 1882, was appointed a Brigadier-General, U. S. Army. In less than two years later, he was retired from active service, his health and mind giving way under the continued strain of twenty years of privation, exposure, and the weight of heavy responsibilities. He died, Jan. 19, 1889, at New Brighton, Staten Island, N. Y., at the early age of forty-eight.

Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.J. H. Dorst, an intimate friend of Mackenzie's, and formerly on his staff, pays the following glowing tribute to his memory:—

"His career was one of the most brilliant in the annals of the American army. In less than two weeks after joining his volunteer regiment he earned his fourth brevet for gallantry. In less than four months, for gallantry in his next three battles, he was promoted Brigadier-General of Volunteers; and in the fourth battle won another brevet. He held higher rank during the war than any man in his class, and higher rank than any other officer whose military life began in the second year of the war. When made Colonel of the Forty-first Infantry, he was only twenty‑six years old, and, except Pennypacker, the youngest Colonel in the army. In the next three years he converted a regiment of ignorant Southern field-hands into an efficient body of troops.

"In 1872 his victory over a large band of Indians was followed by comparative peace for a number of months. Called to the Rio Grande  p844 frontier in 1873, in less than eight months Indian depredations had practically ceased. After his campaign in 1874, the haunts of the Indians on the Staked Plains were abandoned by them forever. Transferred to the Indian Territory in 1875, when the country was swarming with horse thieves, in six months a horse could be tied and left alone within a day's march of the post, and there it would remain till the wind blew its dust away. In 1876 there was an Indian outbreak in the north, and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Custer was massacred. Mackenzie must go. In one fight he gave a band of hostiles a more thorough thrashing than any Indians had received during the year, destroyed their camp, and left the fugitives without food, clothing, or ammunition. They were the first to surrender the next spring, and were followed by the bands of Roman Nose and Crazy Horse; in nine months after his arrival, the Indians at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies were at peace. In 1878 the border troubles again called him to the Rio Grande. In less than eight months the depredations of cattle thieves and marauders ceased, and have not been resumed since. In 1879 the Utes in Colorado killed their agent, and afterward killed Major Thornburgh. Whenever there was a formidable outbreak of any kind, there was one man relied upon to suppress it. In poor health, physically weak, and suffering intensely, he went with no complaint as to himself, but begging some little respite for the hard-worked officers and men of his regiment who had served him so faithfully. After a delay of nearly two years, caused by a policy to which he was opposed, when he was finally allowed to use his own untrammeled judgment, in one sublime moment he averted war, and the Ute question was settled. And now there was an outbreak in Arizona: who could be trusted to quell it but Mackenzie? There were most troubles there in 1882, and not a hostile Indian was able to set foot within the limits of the District of New Mexico. In 1883 the troubles were renewed; and though his health was rapidly failing, only one small party succeeded in crossing the boundary line between Arizona and New Mexico. More than twenty years of active life; always equal to any responsibility; always equal to any emergency; always brilliantly success­ful; without a single failure, and never surpassed! . . .

"Braver than a lion, yet sensitive and gentle as a woman; uncompromising, determined, and just, yet kind, generous, and deeply sympathetic with humanity in every walk of life; imperious, impetuous, and dashing, yet modest, diffident, and simple; he was chivalrous, warm, loyal, and pure, without fear and without reproach, with a great mind and a great soul, a grand soldier, a refined gentleman, and an exalted type of that noblest work of God, an honest man. The example of such a life can never be lost in death."

The Author's Note:

1 Son of Commodore Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, U. S. Navy.

Thayer's Note: Alexander Mackenzie in turn is best known for his energetic measures in cutting off the mutiny of the Somers (G. R. Clark et al., A Short History of the United States Navy, pp214‑218).

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