Madame Turchin

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Madame Turchin
Nadine Lvova Turchin

(1826-11-26)November 26, 1826.
DiedJuly 17, 1904(1904-07-17) (aged 77)
Known forWife of Union Brig. Gen. John Basil Turchin,
her writings

Nadine Lvova Turchin (November 26, 1826 – July 17, 1904) was the wife of Union Brig. Gen. John Basil Turchin. During the American Civil War, she traveled with her husband on his military campaigns and at times acted as his surrogate in command of his troops. She kept a detailed diary that remains a leading eyewitness account of her husband's colorful career. She became widely known in the army as "Madame Turchin."

She was born as Nadezhda Antonina L'vova (or Lovow) in Russia, the daughter of an officer in the Russian Army.[1] On May 10, 1856, in Krakow, Poland, she married Ivan Vasilovitch Turchaninov, with whom she immigrated to the United States.[2] Upon their arrival in the U.S. and their eventual settlement on a farm in New York, they anglicized their names. They later moved to Philadelphia and then to Chicago, where he worked as a topographical engineer for the Illinois Central Railroad.[3]

With the outbreak of the Civil War in early 1861, John Turchin was chosen to be Colonel of the 19th Illinois Infantry[4] and later would be the only Russian-born general to serve in the Union Army. Nadine traveled with her husband throughout the war (despite orders against wives travelling on campaigns). Starting in 1863, she kept a regular diary that included her opinions on her husband's fellow officers, as well as commentary on battles that she participated in, including Chickamauga.[5] During the battle, she stayed with the brigade and division wagons which were parked just on the western edge of the battlefield, and she climbed up onto the eastern hills of Missionary Ridge to observe events during the Battle of Missionary Ridge. She left detailed accounts of both battles, in effect being the only Union female diarist of those battles.[6][7]

During her husband's brief illness in 1862, she "took his place as regimental commander" but likely did not assume full command. Stories of her military savvy and heroism were reported by soldiers from Illinois and in later newspaper articles about her.[8]

After the war, they settled in Radom, Illinois. After her husband's death in 1901, she applied for and received a pension of $30 a month as a military widow instead of as a nurse or soldier. Nadine Turchin died in 1904 and was buried next to her husband in Mound City National Cemetery in southern Illinois.[9]


  1. ^ Leonard, Elizabeth. All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999. ISBN 0393047121 Page 131.
  2. ^ Leonard, Elizabeth. All the Daring of the Soldier, page 131.
  3. ^ Leonard, Elizabeth, All the Daring of the Soldier, page 132.
  4. ^ Pennington, Reina (2003). Amazons to Fighter Pilots - A Biographical Dictionary of Military Women. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 444. ISBN 0-313-32708-4.
  5. ^ Leonard, Elizabeth, All the Daring of the Soldier, page 132.
  6. ^ Benge, Shawn, National Park Service press release, Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
  7. ^ White, Lee, Retrieved 2008-10-17.
  8. ^ Leonard, Elizabeth, All the Daring of the Soldier, page 133-4.
  9. ^ Leonard, Elizabeth, All the Daring of the Soldier, page 141.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bergeron, Destiny. Women in Blue: The Story of Three Women from Illinois Who Fought in the Civil War. Thesis (B.A.)--Lake Forest College, 2002, 2002. OCLC 50043862
  • Casstevens, Frances Harding. Tales from the North and the South: Twenty-Four Remarkable People and Events of the Civil War. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co, 2007. OCLC 71812754 ISBN 978-0-7864-2870-0
  • 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
  • Hall, Richard H. Women on the Civil War Battlefront. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2006. pgs.44, 260-261. ISBN 978-0-7006-1437-0
  • Harper, Judith E. Women During the Civil War: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0-415-93723-X OCLC 51942662
  • Kennedy, Deena. "Mrs. General": Nadine Turchin and the Nineteenth Illinois Infantry in the Civil War. Thesis (M.A.)--Illinois State University, 1992, 1992. OCLC 26709534
  • Massey, Mary Elizabeth. Women in the Civil War. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966. pgs.69-70. ISBN 0-8032-8213-3
  • 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
  • Parry, Albert. "More on General Turchin", Russian Review, Wiley, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Jan., 1955), pp. 19–23

External links[edit]