*Throughout 2020 the “Publication of Note” portion of the newsletter will highlight some of our director’s favorite regimental histories or collections of published primary sources.
Forty years after the Civil War’s end, Corporal Jesse Tyler Sturm, 14th West Virginia Infantry, published stories about his wartime exploits in a variety of newspapers in Kansas and West Virginia. Following the rediscovery, in 2000, of Corporal Sturm’s typed manuscript by a descendant, Sturm’s observations about the Civil War were made available through the publication of this volume. While undoubtedly familiar to historians who study operations in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864, Sturm’s account is perhaps among the lesser-known published primary accounts. Nonetheless, it deserves as much attention as other well-known published primary accounts such as Aldace Walker’s “Vermont Brigade in the Shenandoah Valley” and Samuel Buck’s “With the Old Confeds.”
The bulk of Sturm’s account focuses exclusively on the Shenandoah Valley. While Sturm provides detailed accounts of the battles in which the 14th West Virginia participated, the difficulties of soldier life (both in camp and on the battlefield), his assessments of officers in the Shenandoah are candid and revealing. Additionally, Sturm’s reminiscences provide some insight into the tension that existed among the various elements of General Philip H. Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah.
Following the appearance of Sturm’s articles in 1911, Granville Davisson Hall, wrote Sturm and declared that Sturm’s writings were “so readable… so graphic and vivid.” More than a century later that assessment still holds.