cover image Bad Hand: A Biography of General Ranald S. MacKenzie

Bad Hand: A Biography of General Ranald S. MacKenzie

Charles M. Robinson, III, Author, Stan Edward Hoig, Designed by State House Press $29.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-880510-00-1

This is a well-researched, gracefully written biography of one of America's foremost Indian fighters. Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie (1840-1889) led the Fourth Cavalry for 12 years, fashioning it into the most formidable assault force in the U.S. Army of its time. Though his battles were unspectacular, they played a vital role in protecting settlers by subduing Indian tribes. Robinson ( Frontier Forts in Texas ) describes how Mackenzie learned to ``think Indian,'' turning their own war-making methods against them. An ill-tempered man with impossibly high standards, he suffered a nervous breakdown shortly after his promotion to brigadier general in 1883, was declared insane by an Army board and institutionalized in New York at the age of 43. Robinson rejects the common theory that Mackenzie's mind was destroyed by syphilis, arguing that he suffered from the cumulative effects of wounds, stress and fatigue. Today his malady would probably be diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder. Photos. (Apr.)