He was the son of Catherine Alexander (Robinson) and Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, both of whom were natives of New York City. His father was a well-known naval officer whose career had been surrounded in controversy (see USS Somers (1842)); his uncles included William Alexander Duer, John Slidell, and Matthew C. Perry. By the time of his birth, his parents had purchased a farm on the Hudson between Tarrytown and Sing Sing. His father died suddenly September 13, 1848, at his residence, near Tarrytown, N.Y., of heart disease.
During 1863 and 1864 he participated in the blockade of Charleston and the attacks on Fort Sumter and Morris Island. After the end of the war, he returned to the Far East in Hartford, in which he served until 1867, when he was killed in Kenting, Taiwan while leading a reprisal attack against those responsible for the deaths of the entire crew of the American merchant bark Rover.
Appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1855, he graduated in June 1859 and was assigned to the newly-completed steam sloop of war Hartford. During the next two years, Midshipman MacKenzie served in that ship with the East India Squadron. Promoted to Lieutenant in August 1861, he was an officer of the gunboat Kineo during the conquest of the lower Mississippi River in 1862. Later transferred to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, MacKenzie served off Charleston, South Carolina, in the steam frigate Wabash and monitor Patapsco, taking part in combat operations against Fort Sumter and Morris Island. Later in the Civil War he commanded the gunboat Winona, also in the waters off South Carolina. In July 1865 MacKenzie received the rank of Lieutenant Commander and soon began a second Far Eastern deployment in Hartford. He was killed in action on 13 June 1867, during a punitive expedition ashore in southern Formosa.
Three ships of the Navy have been named USS MacKenzie in his honor.
- Hammersley, The Records of Living Officers of the Navy and Marine Corps, Third Edition, 1878, p.226.
- Date determined from service records of officers and ship logs.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
- Biographies in Naval History; Commander Alexander Slidell MacKenzie (MacKenzie Sr, the father)
- Lieutenant Commander Alexander Slidell MacKenzie, USN (1842-1867) (MacKenzie Jr.)
- CASE of the Somers' MUTINY,
DEFENCE of ALEXANDER SLIDELL MACKENZIE, COMMANDER OF THE U.S. BRIG Somers,
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