A friend shared information about John Turchin after my recent (11/10/14) blog about Union General William T. Sherman. I had never heard of Turchin, but apparently he was the "author" of the "Sherman Plan". Here is what he told me.
Turchin was born Ivan Vasilovitch Turchininoff in Russia. He and his wife, also Russian, migrated to America and Americanized their names. He had served in the military in Russia and when the War Between the States began, he was commissioned Colonel of the 19th Illinois.
Turchin was placed in command of a brigade by Federal General Don Carlos Buell, and with these men Turchin captured Huntsville and Athens, Alabama. Holding to the Imperial Russian theory that "to the victor belong the spoils", he and his troops became especially notorious for their disregard of the persons and property of enemy civilians.
The story goes that while capturing Athens one of Turchin's regiments was shot up by local guerrillas, and Turchin determined to punish the town. Everything possible was stolen or destroyed and the women were brutally treated. For this and also for allowing his wife to accompany him (a big no-no) General Buell relieved him of command, court-marshaled him and recommended dismissal .
Before that could happen, his wife rushed to Washington and persuaded President Lincoln not only to pardon him, but to promote him to brigadier-general. Turchin's legacy to the nation is significant because his theories on war helped develop a mentality among Union officers and officials in Washington that targeting certain civilians was a necessary wartime measure. Turchin's punitive approach is seen, as I mentioned, in Sherman's "March to the Sea".
It was perhaps ironic that Turchin, in later years, suffered severe dementia, and died penniless in an insane asylum in Anna, Illinois at the age of 79. He is buried next to his wife. You may want to read more about this Machiavellian man who had such influence on the outcome of the War and the way the post-War South was treated.