The Fighting Colonel: Ranald S. MacKenzie's Leadership on the Texas Frontier
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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The Texas frontier during the years following the Civil War was a dangerous place. Comanche constantly harassed and raided white settlements. Despite the efforts of President Ulysses S. Grant s Peace Policy, conflict between white settlers and Indians persisted. In February 1871, Civil War veteran Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie, West Point Class of 1862, assumed command of the 4th US Cavalry Regiment. Throughout the next four years, he led his regiment on a series of campaigns across Texas, which effectively eliminated the Comanche as a serious threat to the frontier settlements. The Comanche, often called the Lords of the Southern Plains, were some of the most fierce and ruthless Indians on the plains. They posed a major problem for US Army leadership. The Army needed someone who could take the fight to the enemy and establish relative peace and security. This study examines the most significant factors of Mackenzie s leadership against the Comanche that altered the security environment of the post-Civil War Texas frontier. This study also explores Mackenzie s military tactics and characteristics of the Comanche warrior in three specific Texas battles the Battle of Blanco Canyon 1871, the Battle of McClellan s Creek 1872, and the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon 1874. Through credible primary and secondary sources, this study demonstrates the utmost significance of Mackenzie s decisions and leadership however imperfect, the importance of Mackenzie s soldiers and superiors, and concludes with applicable lessons for today s US Army.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics