John Turchin and Geza Mihalotzy
Letter written on October 10, 1863 by Geza de Mihalotzy, Colonel of the 24th Illinois Volunteers, requesting an extension of medical leave of absence "due to his wound received at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia."
About the Officers:
John Basil Turchin (born Ivan Vasilyevich Turchaninov) was born in Russia in 1822. As a young man, Turchin participated in the Crimean War, but he sought to escape the new Russian Tsar’s oppressive leadership. Turchin and his wife, Nadine, came to the United States in 1856. Turchin found employment in Chicago as a topographical engineer with the Illinois Central Railroad Company and later joined the Union army at the outbreak of the Civil War. Commissioned a colonel in the 19th Illinois Infantry, Turchin led his regiment in Missouri, Kentucky, and Alabama. In 1862, “the Russian Thunderbolt” (as his men referred to him) was promoted to Brigadier General. One of his notable performances in battle was at Chickamauga: when his horse was killed from under him, Turchin ran on foot for over a mile to direct his troop’s advance and halt the enemy. Turchin’s wife, Nadine, accompanied her husband throughout the War in the European custom, rallying troops on the battlefield as well as providing nurse’s care. He resigned from service in 1864 and returned to Chicago, but later moved to a farm and established a Polish colony at Radom in southern Illinois. He died in 1901 in Anna, Illinois. Turchin was the first foreign-born general of the United States.
Born in Hungary, Geza Mihalotzy was a captain in the 1848-49 Hungarian War for Independence, after which he immigrated to Illinois. He enlisted in Hecker’s 24th Illinois Infantry at the age of 36, earning his nickname, the “Soldier from way back.” In 1861, Mihalotzy requested permission to “entitle” his newly formed company the “‘Lincoln Riflemen,’ of Slavonic Origin.” President Lincoln responded: “I cheerfully grant the request above made.” Mihalotzy was soon promoted to colonel, and he led his men of Hungarian, Czech and German birth in the battles of Perrysville, Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and the Atlanta campaign. In 1864, he was mortally wounded at Buzzard’s Roost, Georgia and died two weeks later at Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he is buried.