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.
From the Annals of the Llano Estacado – In 1874, the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon put an end to most of ongoing conflict between the last of free-ranging Plains Indians and the U.S. Army. After the battle, most of the remaining southern Plains Indians (Comanches, Kiowas, Kiowa Apaches, Cheyennes and Arapahos) settled in reservations in Indian Territory. These tribes had camped in Palo Duro Canyon a regular wintering ground. Col. Ranald Mackenzie led his Fourth Cavalry Unit in the attack. Mackenzie reached the edge of Palo Duro Canyon on September 28 guided by the Tonkawas under Chief Johnson. Mackenzie planned to take the encampment by surprise at sunrise on September 28. Comanche leader Red Warbonnet, however, discovered the soldiers and fired a warning shot and was killed by the Tonkawas. The camps were scattered over the vast canyon floor. Mackenzie picked them off one by one with the Indians unable to rally together. The battle was really a series of skirmishes against a number of war parties from various tribes.
The battle resulted in very little loss of life as many of the outnumbered warriors and followers fled the canyon. One soldier and three Indians were killed. The main effect of the battle was to capture the winter supplies and an estimated 1400 horses. Without supplies and horses, the tribes were in an untenable position and were forced to return to the Indian Territory.
From the Annals of the Panhandle –In 1874 Col.Ranald Mackenzie and the Fourth U.S. Cavalry attempted a surprise attack on Comanche, Cheyenne and Kiowa encampments in Palo Duro Canyon. Although known as the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, the attack involved little loss of life as it was primarily a raid to seized Indian horses and property. Assisted by Tonkawa scouts, the cavalry wanted to surprise the Indians who were settling into their winter camps. However, the Indians were warned by the Comanche leader Red Warbonnet, who discovered the soldiers and fired a warning shot before being killed by the Tonkawas. Cheyenne chief Iron Shirt, Comanche leader Poor Buffalo, and the Kiowa chief were left in charge. The camps were located in various parts of the vast canyon which did not allow the Indians to mount a united defense. As a result most of the Indians retreated leaving behind over 1400 horses and most of their winter stores. Only three Comanche were killed as was one soldier. The BOPDC was the last major event in the Red River Wars and resulted in the confinement of southern Plains Indians in reservations in Indian Territory.
From the Annals of the Comanche – In 1871, a war party of more than 100 Kiowas, Comanches, Kiowa-Apaches, Arapahoes, and Cheyennes from the Fort Sill Reservation in Oklahoma attacked Henry Warren’s wagon train on the Butterfield Overland Mail route. The raiders killed the wagon master and six teamsters, but five others escaped. The raiders lost one dead and five wounded and returned to the reservation. One of the survivors reached Fort Richardson. When General Sherman and Colonel Ranald Mackenzie heard his first hand account, the Army moved to arrest the leaders of the raid, Chiefs Satank, Satanta, and Big Tree. Satank was killed while trying to escape. Chief Satanta and Big Tree were tried by civil courts in Texas (the first time Indians had been tried in civil courts), found guilty, and sentenced to hang. Governor Edmund Davis commuted the Indians’ sentences to life imprisonment. The raid caused General Sherman to change his opinion about conditions on the Texas frontier, thus ending his own defensive policy and the Quaker peace policy as well. Sherman ordered soldiers to begin offensive operations against all Indians found off the reservation, a policy that culminated in the Red River War of 1874-75 and the resulting end of Indian raids in North Texas.