Ivan Turchaninov

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Ivan Turchaninov
Turchin.jpg
Ivan Vasilyevich Turchaninov
Birth name Ivan Vasilyevich Turchaninov
Born (1822-01-30)January 30, 1822
Don Host Oblast, Russian Empire
Died June 18, 1901(1901-06-18) (aged 79)
Anna, Illinois
Place of burial Mound City National Cemetery in southern Illinois
Allegiance Russian Empire
United States of America
Service/branch Imperial Russian Army
Union Army
Years of service 1843–1856 (Imperial Russian Army)
1861–1864 (USA)
Rank Colonel (Imperial Russian Army)
Brigadier General (Union Army)
Battles/wars Crimean War
American Civil War

Ivan Vasilyevich Turchaninov (Russian: Ива́н Васи́льевич Турчани́нов; December 24, 1821 – June 18, 1901), better known by his Anglicised name of John Basil Turchin, was a Union army brigadier general in the American Civil War. He led two critical charges that saved the day at Chickamauga and was among the first to lead soldiers up Missionary Ridge.

Early life and career[edit]

Ivan Turchaninov was born into a Don Cossack family in the Russian Empire. He entered the Russian Army in 1843, and graduated from the Imperial Military School in St. Petersburg in 1852. His father was a major in the Imperial Russian Army, which allowed him to gain entry into schools that led to his eventual commission to military service.[1] He later served as a Colonel of Staff in the Russian Guards and fought in Hungary and in the Crimean War.[2] While serving as a lieutenant, he took part in the Russian campaign to help the Austrian Empire suppress the Hungarian Revolution in 1848.[3] Following his graduation, Turchininoff acquired a post on the staff of Imperial Guards in St. Petersburg, under the command of Count F.V. Rudiger.[4] In May 1856, he married Nadezhda Lovov, the daughter of his commanding officer. Later that year, he and his wife immigrated to the United States, where he eventually settled in Chicago and worked for the Illinois Central Railroad.[5]

Civil War[edit]

Turchin joined the Union army at the outbreak of the war in 1861 and became the colonel of the 19th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Having led his regiment in Missouri and Kentucky, he soon found his unit under command of the newly organized Army of the Ohio under major general Don Carlos Buell. General Buell was impressed by Turchin and promoted him to command a brigade in the Army of the Ohio's Third Division, commanded by Brigadier General Ormsby M. Mitchel. Buell advanced southward into Kentucky and Tennessee in early 1862.

When Buell headed west to support Grant at Shiloh, he left Mitchel to hold Nashville. Turchin urged Mitchel to move southward. Mitchel did so, but not because of Turchin. He took Huntsville, Alabama as part of a plan with the spy James Andrews to capture Chattanooga by cutting the Mountain City off from Confederate reinforcements. Mitchel blocked them from the west by capturing Huntsville. Andrews was to block them from the south by burning bridges on the Western and Atlantic line. Unfortunately, Andrews failed as his raid evolved into an episode that became known at the Great Railroad Chase. Nonetheless, Mitchell continued to occupy the line westward from Chattanooga throughout much of northern Alabama.

The occupation of northern Alabama by this division of the Union Army led to attack by combined partisan and Confederate cavalry units. One such attack overran one of Turchin's regiments at Athens, Alabama. Frustration had been building among these Union soldiers for weeks over repeated attacks and Buell's clearly stated conciliatory policy of protecting the rights and property of Southerners. The reported involvement of local citizens in the rout at Athens and the humiliation suffered by the Union soldiers led to the sacking of the town when Turchin brought up reinforcements.

After reoccupying the town on May 2, 1862 Turchin assembled his men and reportedly told them: "I shut my eyes for two hours. I see nothing." He did in fact leave the town to reconnoiter defensive positions, during which time his men ransacked the business district. The incident was controversial, and Lost Cause supporters vilified Turchin.

When word reached General Buell, a man much detested by the soldiers, he insisted on court-martialing Turchin. Turchin's court proceedings received national attention and became a focal point for the debate on the conduct of the war, related to the conciliatory policy as Union casualties in the war mounted. However, President Abraham Lincoln promoted Turchin to brigadier general before the court-martial was finished.

Turchin received a hero's welcome upon his return to Chicago. Prominent figures called for the removal of Buell and a more aggressive conduct of the war such that it be brought to a swift end. Turchin was given command of a new brigade. He distinguished himself during the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and in the Atlanta Campaign.

Turchin's wife, known in the army as Madame Turchin, always stood by him and followed her husband on the field during his campaigns, witnessing the battles (as at Chickamauga and at the battle of Missionary Ridge), and writing the only woman's war diary of the military campaigns.[6]

The song Turchin's got your mule (stemming from Here's your mule) was popular during the war, and its chorus is said to have been used by disheartened troopers as a derisive answer to General Braxton Bragg's endearments at Missionary Ridge.[7]

Turchin resigned from service in October 1864 after suffering heatstroke on the campaign.

Court Martial[edit]

There were three charges against Turchin. He was first accused of "neglect of duty."[8] According to the recitations, there were over twenty or so instances where Turchin supposedly ordered his soldiers to pillage and plunder Athens, AL, without any proper restraints to them.[9] Such instances included the sexual abuse of a servant [meaning slave] girl and the utter decimation of Bibles and testaments, ruthlessly destroyed and burned to pieces in a shop. Many of the other allegations against him included the plundering of ten stores and nine homes. "The rape served as the ultimate example of Turchin's failure" to control his own troops. [10] Under the second charge, Turchin failed to perform proper behavior expected out of an officer and a gentleman. This mattered to General Buell because under "Article 83 conviction meant automatic dismissal from the service and the end of Turchin's military career." A specification added to this charge included a failure to pay the bill at a hotel where he defrauded the innkeeper. The third charge was a failure to obey orders. It was believed that if Turchin was convicted on this charge it would send a clear message to the officers in the Army of the Ohio. It was a means of instilling discipline and order within the ranks of the army [11] When the court-martial began, Garfield had been under the impression that Turchin allowed the things that took place at Athens in accordance with the Muscovite custom.[12]

Postbellum career and legacy[edit]

Turchin returned to Chicago and worked for a time as a patent solicitor and civil engineer. He later was involved in real estate and the settlement of immigrants in southern Illinois. In 1900, he was awarded a pension under a private pension act approved by Congress. He suffered severe dementia, attributed to his heatstroke, and died penniless in an institution in Anna, Illinois, at the age of 79. He is buried next to his wife in the Mound City National Cemetery in southern Illinois.[13][14]

Turchin has been portrayed by many in the South as a villainous figure for the so-called "Rape of Athens," however his actions presaged those that other Union commanders, in particular William Tecumseh Sherman, would adopt in prosecuting total war against the Confederacy.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bradley, George C. & Richard L. Dahlen, From Conciliation to conquest: The Sack of Athens & the Court-Martial of Colonel John B. Turchin (University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, 2006), page 18.
  2. ^ East, Ernest E. "Lincoln's Russian General", Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol. 52, No. 1, Lincoln Sesquicentennial (Spring, 1959), pp. 106-122 http://www.jstor.org/stable/40189912
  3. ^ Bradley, George C. & Richard L. Dahlen, From Conciliation to conquest: The Sack of Athens & the Court-Martial of Colonel John B. Turchin (University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, 2006), page 19.
  4. ^ Bradley, George C. & Richard L. Dahlen, From Conciliation to conquest: The Sack of Athens & the Court-Martial of Colonel John B. Turchin (University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, 2006), page 21-22.
  5. ^ East, Ernest E. "Lincoln's Russian General", Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol. 52, No. 1, Lincoln Sesquicentennial (Spring, 1959), pp. 106-122 http://www.jstor.org/stable/40189912
  6. ^ Mcelligott, Mary Ellen. "A Monotony Full of Sadness": The Diary of Nadine Turchin, May, 1863-April, 1864", Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol. 70, No. 1 (Feb., 1977), pp. 27-89 http://www.jstor.org/stable/40191347
  7. ^ in Pollard's "The Lost Cause", p. 457 : "The day was shamefully lost. Gen. Bragg attempted to rally the broken troops; he advanced into the fire, and exclaimed, 'Here is your commander,' and was answered with the derisive shouts of an absurd catch-phrase in the army, 'Here's your mule'."
  8. ^ Bradley, George C. & Richard L. Dahlen, From Conciliation to conquest: The Sack of Athens & the Court-Martial of Colonel John B. Turchin (University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, 2006), page 147.
  9. ^ Bradley, George C. & Richard L. Dahlen, From Conciliation to conquest: The Sack of Athens & the Court-Martial of Colonel John B. Turchin (University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, 2006), page 147.
  10. ^ Bradley, George C. & Richard L. Dahlen, From Conciliation to conquest: The Sack of Athens & the Court-Martial of Colonel John B. Turchin (University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, 2006), page 147.
  11. ^ Bradley, George C. & Richard L. Dahlen, From Conciliation to conquest: The Sack of Athens & the Court-Martial of Colonel John B. Turchin (University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, 2006), page 147-148.
  12. ^ Bradley, George C. & Richard L. Dahlen, From Conciliation to conquest: The Sack of Athens & the Court-Martial of Colonel John B. Turchin (University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, 2006), page 158.
  13. ^ East, Ernest E. "Lincoln's Russian General", page 119.
  14. ^ Leonard, Elizabeth, All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999. ISBN 0393047121, page 141.

References[edit]

  • Bradley, George C., and Dahlen, Richard L., From Conciliation to Conquest. The Sack of Athens and the Court-Martial of Colonel John B. Turchin (U of Alabama, 2006) ISBN 0-817-31526-8 OCLC 65644289
  • Casstevens, Frances Harding. Tales from the North and the South: Twenty-Four Remarkable People and Events of the Civil War. Jefferson, NC.: McFarland & Co., 2007. ISBN 0-786-42870-8 OCLC 71812754
  • Chicoine, Stephen, John Basil Turchin and the Fight to Free the Slaves (Praeger, 2003) ISBN 0-275-97441-3 OCLC 51728749
  • Cozzens, Peter. This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992. ISBN 0-252-01703-X OCLC 25165083
  • East, Ernest E. "Lincoln's Russian General", Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol. 52, No. 1, Lincoln Sesquicentennial (Spring, 1959), pp. 106-122 http://www.jstor.org/stable/40189912
  • Haynie, J. Henry. The Nineteenth Illinois: A Memoir of the Regiment of Volunteer Infantry Famous in the Civil War of Fifty Years Ago for Its Drill, Bravery, and Distinguished Services. (M.A. Donohue & Co., 1912) OCLC 5132759
  • Mcelligott, Mary Ellen. "A Monotony Full of Sadness": The Diary of Nadine Turchin, May, 1863-April, 1864", Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol. 70, No. 1 (Feb., 1977), pp. 27-89 http://www.jstor.org/stable/40191347
  • Treichel, James A. Union Cossack: General John B. Turchin's Career in the American Civil War. Thesis (M.A.)--Marquette University, 1962. OCLC 24642051

External links[edit]