Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War
A classic Civil War memoir, Co. Aytch is the work of a natural storyteller who balances the horror of war with an irrepressible sense of humor and a sharp eye for the lighter side of battle. It is a testament to one man’s enduring humanity, courage, and wisdom in the midst of death and destruction.
Early in May 1861, twenty-one-year-old Sam R. Watkins of Columbia, Tennessee, joined the First Tennessee Regiment, Company H, to fight for the Confederacy. Of the 120 original recruits in his company, Watkins was one of only seven to survive every one of its battles, from Shiloh to Nashville.
Twenty years later, with a “house full of young ‘rebels’ clustering around my knees and bumping about my elbows,” he wrote this remarkable account—a memoir of a humble soldier fighting in the American Civil War, replete with tales of the common foot soldiers, commanders, Yankee enemies, victories, defeats, and the South’s ultimate surrender on April 26, 1865.
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terrific bookUser Review - laurette42 - Overstock.com
this is a great book. My son is a big civil war buff and is very happy with it. It is well written and gives a Confederate soldiers viewpoint of his experiences. Good insight into the trials of that war. The book was in excellent shape and arrived very timely. Read full review
Samuel "Sam" Rush Watkins was born on June 26, 1839, near Columbia, Maury County, TN, and received his formal education at Jackson College in Columbia. Early in May 1861, the twenty-one-year-old Watkins joined the First Tennessee Regiment, Company H (the "Maury Greys,” or Co. Aytch as he calls it), to fight for the Confederacy. He faithfully served throughout the duration of the War, participating in the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Perryville, Murfreesboro (Stones River), Shelbyville, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Resaca, Adairsville, Kennesaw Mountain (Cheatham Hill), New Hope Church, Zion Church, Kingston, Cassville, Atlanta, Jonesboro, Franklin, and Nashville. Of the 120 original recruits in his company, Watkins was one of only seven to survive every one of its battles when General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee surrendered to General William Tecumseh Sherman in April, 1865.
Soon after the war ended, Watkins began writing his memoir, entitled "Company Aytch: Or, a Side Show of the Big Show," which was originally serialized in the Columbia, TN, Herald newspaper. Some twenty years later, with a “house full of young ‘rebels’ clustering around my knees and bumping about my elbows,” Co. Aytch was published in book form as a first edition of 2,000 in 1882. This remarkable account is a classic Civil War memoir of a humble “private soldier” fighting in the American Civil War which balances the horror of war with a sense of humor at the lighter side of battle. It is filled with tales of marches, commanders, Yankee enemies, victories, and defeats. Watkins did not set out to write “history.” For that we must read history books. His aim was simply to record his personal observations, and Co. Aytch is heralded by many historians as one of the best the best primary sources about the Civil War experience of a common soldier in the field.
Of course, as you can imagine, there are graphic descriptions of fighting and killing. Some references to smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, and gambling occur. Also, the “d” and “h” words and the name of God are occasionally used as exclamations. But remember that all this falls within the historical context. When writing about the war, Watkins says that he “was not a Christian then,” but evidently later became one, and his account contains a number of religious observations. Watkins, who was often featured and quoted in Ken Burns' 1990 documentary titled The Civil War, died on July 20, 1901, at the age of 62.
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