Military Review

Russian American general. The amazing fate of the Don Cossack, a friend of Lincoln

The USA is a long-time strategic opponent of our country. It would seem that the United States and Russia have little in common. But in fact, even such a large-scale event of the American stories, like the Civil War, was not without the participation of the Russians. Now the United States is overwhelmed with a fashion to review its own history. Across the country, demolishing and moving monuments to American generals and officers - participants of the Civil War. Meanwhile, there were Russians among them, and only one Russian officer managed to advance to the rank of general in the American army and make his (very tangible) contribution to the history of the American Civil War.

Russian American general. The amazing fate of the Don Cossack, a friend of Lincoln

When, in the distant 1822 year on Don, a son of a Cossack by birth and a retired major Vasily Nikolayevich Turchaninov was born a son, Ivan, no one could imagine that after forty years he would succeed not only to rise to the rank of general, but to get him in a foreign army, and even in an army so far away, in those days, from a country like the United States of America. The fact that another representative of the old Cossack clan Turchaninovs will achieve fame in the military arena, in fact, was not surprising. It was a military family in which almost all men fought and served. For example, Pavel Petrovich Turchaninov was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general in the Russian imperial army and was the closest ally of Mikhail Kutuzov. The rank of lieutenant general was received by Andrei Petrovich Turchaninov, who also participated in the war with Napoleon.

It is clear that the military career was "registered" and Ivan Turchaninov. At ten years old, in 1832, he entered the First Cadet Corps in St. Petersburg, then transferred to Novocherkassk in 1835 - to a military classical gymnasium, and in 1843, at the age of 21, he received a military education at the Mikhailovsky Artillery School. The diligent young officer was assigned to the Imperial Guard and served in the Don Cossack Mounted Artillery Battery Life Guard.

In 1848, a young officer participated in suppressing a popular uprising in Hungary. Then it was precisely for the suppression of this uprising that the European revolutionaries called Nicholas I the “gendarme of Europe”. In 1852, Ivan Turchaninov graduated from the Nikolaev Academy of the General Staff with a silver medal and entered the elite of the Russian imperial army. He participated in the Crimean War 1853-1856. It was Ivan Turchaninov who carried out a topographical survey of the Baltic coast, for which he not only received the order, but was also made a Guards colonel. By 1856, 34-year-old Colonel Ivan Turchaninov served as chief of staff of the corps in Poland. It seemed that his further military career would be unclouded - for a few more years and the colonel could well rise to the rank of general in the Russian imperial army.

However, Ivan Vasilievich Turchaninov was not an ordinary officer. In addition to his own military career, he was also interested in the future of Russia. Turchaninov thought a lot about which form of political and social structure would fit the Russian state. It is known that he was in correspondence with Alexander Herzen himself. For the Colonel of the Guard, and even at that time, it was very unusual and risky. Turchaninov criticized serfdom and believed that Russia should take the path of democratization. Apparently, in the end, he realized that further he needed to either leave the country, or, sooner or later, he would simply be arrested. In 1856, Colonel Ivan Turchaninov left the Russian Empire with his wife Nadezhda.

A young political emigrant from Russia arrived in the United States of America. Here he changed his name - now the Russian colonel, immediately after leaving dismissed from the Russian military service, was called Mr. John Basil Turchin, and his wife - Mrs. Nadine Turchin. At first the Russian émigré tried to take up farming, but quickly went bankrupt, after which he entered the engineering school, and his spouse received an education in a medical school. Having been in the role of an American student and graduated from college, the former Russian colonel began working as an engineer on the Illinois Railroad. The man who was part of the Russian military elite began his career in the USA at 34-year-old and practically from scratch. However, as a talented specialist, here too the Russian officer found a use for himself and won the respect of the Americans. John Turchin quickly became close with representatives of the “high society”, for example, he personally met lawyer Abraham Lincoln.

Turchaninov traveled to America under the influence of idealistic ideas - many Russian liberals and democrats of that time saw in the United States an example of almost the best state. But, faced with the American realities, Turchaninov rather quickly became disillusioned with the political and social structure of the United States. He reported this in his letters to Herzen. Turchaninov saw colossal social inequality, permissiveness for the rich, a high crime rate. All this went against the notions of life in North America that prevailed in democratic circles. And, nevertheless, Turchaninov did not regret that he came to America - here he, as he himself reported in one of his letters, became a “mere mortal”, an ordinary person — an engineer.

When the war began between the northern and southern states, Ivan Turchaninov could not stay away from such large-scale military and political events. He decided to use his military experience and filed a petition for admission to the army of the northern states. As the American army experienced a great shortage of qualified commanders, the former colonel of the Russian imperial army, and even personally acquainted with Lincoln, was immediately recruited as a colonel and appointed commander of the 19 Illinois Infantry Regiment. So a whole American regiment was entrusted to the Russian emigrant. The soldiers and officers of the regiment had to approve a commander of two candidates - Ulysses Grant and John Turchin. The selection of personnel was made in favor of the Russian officer. Colonel Ulysses Grant, in turn, was appointed commander of the 21 Infantry Regiment. Nadine Turchin was also enlisted for military service - she, as having a medical degree, was appointed a military doctor.

Under the command of Colonel Turchin, the 19 Infantry Regiment of the Illinois quickly turned into one of the most combat-ready units of the American army. After all, Turchaninov was a professional military with an excellent education - Mikhailovsky Artillery School, then - the Academy of the General Staff. There were few such officers in the American army. Turchaninov quickly established excellent discipline, adjusted combat training. In a strict, but fair and talented commander, the soldiers did not like the soul. Soon Colonel Turchin was appointed commander of a brigade of four regiments. Under his command, the team made many glorious feats. At first, the higher command could not rejoice in the success of the brigade commanded by Turchin, however, as the commander grew, he began to play an increasingly independent role.

Therefore, problems in relations between Colonel Turchin and higher-ranking officers of the army of northerners began almost immediately. The Turchin regiment was part of the Ohio army, commanded by Major General Don Carlos Buell. This American officer was one of the few slave-owning generals in the ranks of the army of northerners. He did not see anything reprehensible in the possession of slaves, and it was on this basis that Major General Bewell and Colonel Turchin had a serious conflict.

The fact is that Turchin, who adhered to democratic convictions, provided asylum in the brigade to all negro slaves who ran away from slave owners and turned to him for protection. Dissatisfied slave owners complained to the higher command. Moreover, without an order, Colonel Turchin took Nashville and Huntsville, and in Athens, in Alabama, the soldiers of one of the brigade units still violated discipline and committed looting. By the way, among the southerners, long after the end of the Civil War, there were stories about the “wild Cossack” John Turchin, whose soldiers robbed the local population. In many respects, these stories were due to the fact that the Democrat Turchin really did not experience reverence for the wealthy slave owners and could completely close his eyes to the sins of his subordinates, as well as the blacks - slaves.

On the other hand, all the American officers who dealt with Turchaninov spoke of high education and good manners of the Russian émigré. As for the cases of looting, they occurred in almost all American units - in the army of northerners and in the army of southerners. However, it was Turchin who decided to make a scapegoat - firstly, he was still a “stranger” among the American commanders, and secondly - “the way was crossed” by Major General Buellu himself, who at that time had a great influence in the US military elite. The trial began.

The military court was going to dismiss Colonel Turchin from military service, but Turchin’s long-time friend Abraham Lincoln, by this time the former president of the United States, intervened. He gave John Turchin the rank of brigadier general of the American army. After that, Turchin was inviolable to the court, since the jury, who had the rank of colonel, could not dismiss the general. So the only Russian general of the American army remained in its composition. At the same time, Abraham Lincoln delivered Turchin from further problems by removing Major General Don Carlos Buell from his post. By this time, Buell was seriously suspected of sympathizing with the Southerners, so they decided to remove from the command post. From other posts, Buell refused and in the 1864 year he resigned from military service altogether.

The Turchin Brigade distinguished itself in the battles of Chicamog and Chattanooga. 19-20 September 1863, the forces of the northerners suffered a serious defeat from the Confederates and began to retreat. With this valiant Turchin could not accept. He personally led the counterattack of his brigade and, breaking through the defense line of the southerners, he was in their rear. The Turchin Brigade made a brilliant raid in the rear, capturing the 300 soldiers and officers of the Southerner’s army and seizing several artillery pieces. The attack was named after the fearless general "Turchinskoy attack in the rear of the enemy." It was under this name that she entered the American history textbooks.

Turchin repeatedly distinguished himself in the Battle of Chattanooga, where he also personally led the attack of his brigade. The personal courage of Brigadier General Turchin and the dedication of his wife, the doctor Nadine Turchin, helped to make the Russian emigre couple into the real darlings of American servicemen. Turchin tried to take care of his soldiers as much as possible and was very worried after the 17 disaster of September 1862, when the train carrying the personnel of his brigade fell from the bridge over the Beaver Creek in Indiana. Killed 25 soldiers and 1 officer, 114 people were injured. After that, Turchin, lamenting, said that these were the most numerous losses of his brigade during the whole period of hostilities. By the way, besides the direct command of the troops, Turchin at that time also managed to conduct scientific work - to study tactics, to write the work “Brigade Training”, which was later recognized as the best similar composition of that time. Overload affected the health of the 42-year-old. In 1864, he was struck with a heart attack. His health condition no longer allowed Turchin to remain in command, and he was forced to resign from military service.

John Turchin returned to civilian life. He settled in Chicago, where he worked as a construction engineer, and later engaged in real estate trading in southern Illinois. In 1873, Turchin even founded the Polish colony of Radom in Illinois, where he began to invite Polish immigrants. While in the civil service, he wrote works on the history of the American Civil War. Over the years, Turchin began to yearn for his homeland. He even wrote a letter to Emperor Alexander II with a request to allow him and his wife to return to the Russian Empire, but the response of the Russian authorities was categorical - to refuse to return to their homeland. The financial situation of the elderly Turchin and his wife deteriorated. Only thanks to the activity of former subordinates who served in the "Turchinskaya" brigade, the legendary participant in the Civil War began to pay a small pension. The exploits of General Turchin in the United States during the life of the commander were not appreciated.

In 1901, 79-year-old John Turchin died in Ann's hospital in Illinois. Three years later, Nadine Turchin passed away. The couple are buried in a military cemetery in Mount City in Illinois, and their graves are kept, as befits the graves of American military personnel, at the expense of the United States of America.

At present, the figure of an amazing man — a Russian officer who has become a general of the American army — is becoming increasingly interesting both in the United States and in Russia. Moreover, many essays on military history, written by Turchaninov - Turchin, have not lost their relevance even now.
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  1. Aaron Zawi
    Aaron Zawi 20 November 2017 06: 47
    Very informative. Thanks for the unknown story page.
  2. moskowit
    moskowit 20 November 2017 06: 55
    Well, very interesting ... As Socrates said: "The more I know, the more I am convinced that I know nothing ..."
    Knowledge requires further searches and a more complete disclosure of the topic ... The path of knowledge is endless ...
  3. XII Legion
    XII Legion 20 November 2017 07: 23
    It happens
    Interesting and yet revealing
    Thank you
  4. Monster_Fat
    Monster_Fat 20 November 2017 07: 32
    Well, what can I say .... "The road to hell is paved with good intentions ...."
  5. kvs207
    kvs207 20 November 2017 08: 08
    "But, faced with American realities, Turchaninov quickly became disillusioned with the political and social structure of the United States. He reported this in his letters to Herzen. Turchaninov saw enormous social inequality, permissiveness for the rich, a high crime rate. All this went against those perceptions of life in North America that dominated democratic circles. "
    The situation in the USA of the 60s of the 19th century and the situation in Russia in the 90s of the 20th century, just twin brothers. There was a wild increase in the initial accumulation of capital by any means, where "all means were good."
  6. groks
    groks 20 November 2017 10: 25
    I first read about it with Yu. Nikitin. It was rather difficult to find information. What can be supplemented.
    The result of the Crimean war, in which the coalition of Western countries did not actually achieve much success, was the disappointment of many Russian officers in the service and in the situation in the country in general. Tolstoy - a successful officer, left, Ivan Vasilievich too.
    It is curious that during the illness of I.V., his wife successfully commanded the brigade. Such are Russian women and such was the level of both American armies. It seems to be I.V. played the violin well and even tried to make money after retirement. but this is so - at the level of OBS.
    An even more serious trace, Russian emigrants left in South America.
    1. raif
      raif 28 November 2017 08: 48
      about the command of his wife Turchaninov brigade - you really do not go too far. and so little information about this person, do not use the source of OBS, please stop about South America - also a little off topic. articles have already been - about the participation of our emigrant officers in the Chak war as part of the Parvian army, informative and detailed
  7. Luga
    Luga 20 November 2017 11: 33
    Good article. Thanks to the author.
    The only thing that cut the rumor is the first phrase
    The USA is a long-standing strategic adversary of our country.
    Not so old, actually. The earliest conflict of interest can be dated, and that, in my opinion, is very conditional, the beginning of the twentieth century, when the United States actively collaborated with Japan during the Russo-Japanese war. Before that, we were friends, and after that until the end of World War II, we effectively collaborated. However, this has nothing to do with the topic of the article. smile
  8. nivander
    nivander 20 November 2017 13: 17
    during the Civil War in the USA, looting, indemnities, confiscations were common on both sides of the Potomac River - by the way, the picture is a reproduction of Don Troyani's painting "Attack of the 114th New York Regiment near Fair Oaks April 7, 1962"
  9. Curious
    Curious 20 November 2017 14: 06

    The couple are buried in a military cemetery in Mount City, Illinois, and their graves are contained, as befits the graves of American troops, at the expense of the United States of America.
    1. A.V.S.
      A.V.S. 21 November 2017 15: 17
      The kingdom of heaven is a Russian officer and an American general.
  10. Monarchist
    Monarchist 20 November 2017 15: 14
    Ilya, THANKS to you for the story of an amazing person. I don’t see anything surprising in the fact that Turcheninov quickly became a well-known commander: Mikhailovsky School was one of the best military schools in Europe, a silver medal for the Academy of the General Staff (you can recall many graduates of the Academy with medals) the experience of the Crimean War also means something. It is now the Americans are clumsyly know-it-all and generally super-duper, and then it was a provincial country with a mediocre army, at least the training of their officers was inferior to that of the European armies.
    But the message from comrade groks that during her husband’s illness, Nadezhda Turcheninova commanded a brigade, it struck me: they have a good army if a WOMAN-DOCTOR could command them! She reverence, and they .... Decide for yourself what kind of comparison to choose, otherwise I don’t have enough imagination
  11. Monarchist
    Monarchist 20 November 2017 15: 19
    Quote: nivasander
    during the Civil War in the USA, looting, indemnities, confiscations were common on both sides of the Potomac River - by the way, the picture is a reproduction of Don Troyani's painting "Attack of the 114th New York Regiment near Fair Oaks April 7, 1962"

    Man, you probably have a typo: "Attack 114 of the New York Regiment near Fair Oaks on April 7, 1962" can there be no way, probably, you should read April 7, 1862?
    1. nivander
      nivander 20 November 2017 18: 32
      Well, yes, THANKS !!! wink
  12. Cat
    Cat 20 November 2017 19: 23
    Yes, after reading only emotions remained! A paradoxical twist of fate - otherwise you can imagine. It is a pity that such a person was not allowed to return to their homeland.
    Special thanks to the author!
  13. Angmar
    Angmar 21 November 2017 19: 15
    That's about who you need to make a movie.
  14. burigaz2010
    burigaz2010 22 November 2017 23: 09
    An ordinary traitor to his homeland! Fled to a foreign country, fought for it, let’s put a monument to him too !!! The guard officer is called !! He died in poverty, so dogs canine death!
  15. Graz
    Graz 23 November 2017 02: 49
    why admire it?
    the man violated the oath to the sovereign and the empire, deserted, this is the most traitor, not having left the army service
    1. Warrior2015
      Warrior2015 25 July 2018 10: 50
      Quote: Graz
      the man violated the oath to the sovereign and the empire, deserted, this is the most traitor, not having left the army service
      This is all without a doubt, however, just an unknown and interesting page in military history.