- Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (August 12, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684833247
- ISBN-13: 978-0684833248
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.2 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,808,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War Reprint Edition
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Bell Irvin Wiley Author of The Life of Johnny Reb No memoir by a rebel participant is richer in intimate detail than this engaging story.
Margaret Mitchell From Gone With the Wind Letters A better book there never was. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Samuel "Sam" Rush Watkins (June 26, 1839 - July 20, 1901) was a noted Confederate soldier during the American Civil War. He is known today for his memoir Company Aytch: Or, a Side Show of the Big Show, often heralded as one of the best primary sources about the common soldier's Civil War experience. Watkins was born on June 26, 1839 near Columbia, Maury County, Tennessee, and received his formal education at Jackson College in Columbia. He originally enlisted in the "Bigby Greys" of the 3rd Tennessee Infantry in Mount Pleasant, Tennessee, but transferred shortly thereafter to the First Tennessee Infantry, Company H (the "Maury Greys") in the spring of 1861. Watkins 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 men who enlisted in "Company H" in 1861, Sam Watkins was one of only seven alive when General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee surrendered to General William Tecumseh Sherman in North Carolina April, 1865. Of the 1,200 men who fought in the First Tennessee, only 65 were left to be paroled on that day. Soon after the war ended, Watkins began writing his memoir, entitled "Company Aytch: Or, a Side Show of the Big Show". It was originally serialized in the Columbia, Tennessee Herald newspaper. "Co. Aytch" was published in a first edition of 2,000 in book form in 1882. "Co. Aytch" is heralded by many historians as one of the best war memoirs written by a common soldier of the field. Sam's writing style is quite engaging and skillfully captures the pride, misery, glory, and horror experienced by the common foot soldier. Watkins is often featured and quoted in Ken Burns' 1990 documentary titled The Civil War. Watkins died on July 20, 1901 at the age of sixty-two in his home in the Ashwood Community. He was buried with full military honors by the members of the Leonidas Polk Bivouac, United Confederate Veterans, in the cemetery of the Zion Presbyterian Church near Mount Pleasant, Tennessee. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Watkins told his tale in an easy, conversational style. The book is not written as a single narrative, but as a collection of tales and memories, just as he might have told them to friends and family around his hearth. His antidotal style put side by side humorous tales and the horrors of war that he observed, showing how casual a thing gruesome death became to a soldier. He wrote with great feeling, telling the reader when recalling a particular incident left him overwhelmed with emotion still after twenty years, and constantly referencing his religious faith that he would someday see all of his fallen comrades again in a better world. He hid nothing of himself, and that candid emotion sets his book apart, and gives it its greatness.
This book is not a history, per say. Watkins constantly reminded his readers of this. It is a collection of impressions of what it was like to be one of the little men doing the shooting and killing - the men who history mostly overlooks. "Co Aytch" fills in the yawning gaps of how war is really fought and experienced that you will never find in any general's memoirs. This book is essential for a full understanding of the Civil War, and it is a pleasure and a joy to read. I highly recommend it.
Watkins becomes part of you as you read on, like a treasured friend or talisman. It doesn't matter what side of the conflict you're on, whether you're a confirmed Yankee or passionate Rebel, it's simply impossible not to adore Watkins and his deft touches with the pen. He describes the terror of going into battle, the strange exhilaration of the battles aftermath and the realization you are still alive. His best moments are describing a visit to a field hospital where he sees his best friends intestines opened up in a gaping wound, with only minutes to live. His pathos and deep sentiment are prevelent throughout the book.
Buy this book *now,* don't wait another moment. It's a book you will read and re-read throughout life, a deserved and enduring classic. Whether you care little or nothing about the American civil war, it matters little. This is a little masterpiece, pure and simple.