Powder River: MacKenzie Avenges Custer

MACKENZIE, RANALD SLIDELL (1840–1889). Ranald Slidell (Bad Hand) Mackenzie, army officer, was born on July 27, 1840, in New York City, the son of Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, a popular author and naval officer who had taken his mother's family name of Mackenzie, and Catherine (Robinson) Mackenzie. The elder Mackenzie's brother, John Slidell, was a United States minister to Mexico and the Confederate minister to France seized aboard the British mail packet Trent in 1861. His sister, Jane Slidell, was the wife of Matthew C. Perry, who opened Japan to the West. Ranald had two brothers-Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, Jr., a lieutenant commander in the navy, and Rear Admiral Morris Robinson Slidell Mackenzie-and a sister, Harriet Slidell Mackenzie. He received his education at Williams College and at the United States Military Academy, where he graduated on June 17, 1862, at the head of his class. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the Army of the Potomac. Within two years he had fought in eight major battles and been promoted to the rank of colonel. Later, in the Shenandoah valley, he commanded troops in five battles, and in the final campaign against Robert E. Lee he was a brevet major general. At Appomattox he took custody of surrendered Confederate property and afterward commanded the cavalry in the Department of Virginia. In three years he had received seven brevets and six wounds.

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