George Henry Mackenzie
Chess Master

George Henry Mackenzie (24 March 1837, North Kessock, Scotland - 14 April 1891, New York City) was a Scottish-American chess master. Mackenzie was educated mainly in Aberdeen, at the Aberdeen Grammar School and the Marischal College, University of Aberdeen; but he studied in Rouen, France, and Stettin, Prussia, from 1853 to 1855. He was commissioned into the 60th Foot as an ensign in 1856 when he was nineteen years old. Soon after, his regiment was sent to the Cape of Good Hope, and from there to India. He traveled to England in 1858, having been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. In 1861 he sold his commission and retired from the army. Mackenzie began to practice chess in 1853, and in 1862 he won a handicap tournament in London in which he defeated Adolf Anderssen. In 1863, during the middle of the American Civil War, he moved to the United States. During the Civil War, he fought on the Union side, obtaining the rank of Captain in the 10th United States Colored Troops Regiment. However, on 16 June 1864, he was reported as a deserter by the United States Army. In 1865, Mackenzie came to New York, where he wrote on chess matters for Turf, Field, and Farm. He won the first prizes at the annual contests of the New York Chess Club in 1865, 1866, 1867, and 1868. Death Mackenzie died at the Cooper Union Hotel on 14 April 1891, but the cause of death is a matter of considerable speculation. The New York Times reported on 27 April 1890 that Mackenzie was suffering from tuberculosis, and on 15 April 1891, a day after his death, mentioned that the immediate cause of death was pneumonia, noting that his condition had worsened from a fever caught while visiting Havana. However, on 29 April 1891, The Sun carried a report by Dr. S. B. Minden, who had visited Mackenzie before his death, claiming that the captain had committed suicide by an overdose of morphine, which he had requested earlier to ease the pain from his tuberculosis, but Dr. Minden had refused. The coroner who had presided over Mackenzie's death dismissed this assertion as ridiculous, insisting that tuberculosis was the cause of death.

Return to Union Biographies Page

Return to Main Page