Today in Texas History – December 17

From the Annals of PTSD –  In 1883, Col. Ranald Slidell Mackenzie, a veteran U.S. Army Cavalry officer, was diagnosed as suffering from “paralysis of the insane.”  Mackenzie was from New York and graduated first in his class from West Point in 1862.  He served with great distinction in the Union cavalry during the Civil War, ending the conflict as a brevet major general.  After the war he was stationed in Texas at various times in command of the Fourth United States Cavalry.  He was largely forgotten to history until publication of Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne.   Gwynne’s book focused on the Comanches but also told the story of Mackenzie who was almost single-handedly responsible for bringing an end to the Comanches reign of terror over the vast expanse of territory in which their warriors operated.  Mackenzie is best known for his victory against the Comanches at Palo Duro Canyon and for the extralegal Remolino raid into Mexico in pursuit of Kickapoo raiders.  But is was his incredible determination that finally put an end to the Comanches’ raids. Mackenzie had planned to marry and to retire near Boerne, Texas.  However, it seems likely that he suffered from severe undiagnosed PTSD and he was committed to a New York asylum in 1884.  He died on Staten Island in 1889.

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