WOMEN AT WAR: Ranger to recount tales from local battles

WOMEN AT WAR: Ranger to recount tales from local battles

March 29th, 2013 by Todd South in Local Regional News

People walk past Chickamauga National Military Park Visitors Center which is located on 3370 LaFayette Road in Fort Oglethorpe.

Photo by Staff File Photo/Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

* What: Ladies on the Battlefield

* Where: Chickamauga National Military Park Visitors Center, 3370 LaFayette Road, Fort Oglethorpe

* When: 6:30 p.m. today

* Cost: Free

Nadine Turchin came from Russian royalty but understood the ways of war.

The 19th-century immigrant and daughter of a Russian Imperial Army general had married her husband, also a Russian army officer, and fled her native land for the United States before the Civil War began.

Her husband, Union Brig. Gen. John Turchin, commanded soldiers who advanced on Chattanooga 150 years ago. Nadine Turchin came along with him to the front, a rarity for Victorian-era women.

As the Battle of Chickamauga began, she, in petticoats, rode a wagon train supplying troops at the front lines.

When a number of Union soldiers fled, she pulled out a revolver she kept strapped to her side, pointing it at the men and ordering them back to the fighting.

The men knew "Mother Turchin." Some obeyed; many still ran.

She moved forward to bring supplies to the fighting.

Tonight at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park's Visitors Center, Ranger Lee White will tell the story of Nadine Turchin and other women who joined their husbands at the pivotal battles here.

"It wasn't all just generals and brass buttons and military tactics," Lee said.

He stumbled upon Nadine Turchin's story a few years ago after reading a translated copy of her diary, which she wrote in French.

"She was a very opinionated woman," Lee said.

Turchin commented often on what she thought the Union Army was doing wrong in the war and how she and her husband could run the operation better.

Turchin's is one of many stories that park rangers are trying to tell as the 150th area battle anniversaries approach this year.

"The Civil War is such a vast subject, we are constantly striving to make connections with people on multiple levels," said Kim Coons, who heads interpretation and education for the parks.

Coons said the anniversary dates are good opportunities to show the public more of the local history, not just of the battles but of their effects on the area and the nation.

Contact staff writer Todd South at 423-757-6347 or tsouth@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.