Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War

Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War

4.5 14
by Sam R. Watkins
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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.

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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.

Library Journal
01/01/2016
This lively memoir is part of an ilk within the genre that contends with the harsh barbarism of combat using wry humor. Surviving impossible situations and seemingly countless battles, Confederate soldier Watkins manages not only to capture clearly a soldier's experience but also inadvertently to write a solid history of the war itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743255417
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
11/01/2003
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
612,265
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
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.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JBW29NC More than 1 year ago
The ultimate so far as memoirs of a private confederate soldier is concerned. Sam Watkins has received universal praise, well deserved, from numerous civil war historians. Watkins participated in virtually all of the major battles in the western theater, preceded by a brief time of service in the eastern theater. He frequently makes it a point to say he is writing after 20 years and is only writing about what he knew about. If you want to learn of tactics and strategy read the historians is Watkins advice. Ken Burns mad frequent reference to Watkins in his film "The Civil War." Highly recommended if you want to hear from someone who was there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very personal and sincerely honest account of a truly fascinating and bloody episode in US history. It never pretends to be anything more than its claim as one soldiers account of what happened to him during the war. I highly recommend this book for all interested in this period of history
Sekhemkhet More than 1 year ago
This journal by Sam R. Watkins, a Confederate soldier, is breathtaking. Once I got done reading it I literally flipped it back to the beginning and started over again. This is an actual journal, not some piece of literature simply being written out to mimic one, so it is a first-hand, detailed, "say-it-like-it-was" account of Company H's Civil War expedition. A very good and compelling read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I cannot begin to improve on the review by rootus, but I will mention that this book is exceptional and perhaps the best first person account that I have ever read of this war, it veers away from a detailed and scholarly, after the fact examination by studious scholars of battle and gives one a birds eye view of the horror and suffering of war. The incredible odds that one faced in surviving four years of battle is like winning the lottery today. An incredible tale you will not soon forget.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The now-famous 1990 documentary of the Civil War by Ken Burns put this book, as well as ¿All For The Union¿ by Elisha Rhodes, in front of thousands of readers who had never heard of either man. They are both fascinating, first-person accounts by very young civilian soldiers who, despite enormous odds, survived 4 full years of battles, skirmishes, wounds, and hardships of the field. Despite the obvious commonalities of subject and the fact that they were written in approximately the same 20-years-after time frame, the books are very different in style and tone. Sam Watkins tells his readers time and again that his book is not a history, only a memoir, and that other more competent, more knowledgeable writers must be consulted for history. Reasons why things happened are not his to give, he reminds us, and he often concedes his memory is but imperfect. ¿Company Aytch¿ is anecdotal, rambling, folksy, self-deprecating, full of quirky detail and eccentric humor, but a river of sadness runs deeply through it. It is easy to picture Watkins on the porch rocker recounting these tales and inevitably succumbing to the enormous dolor of a lost cause, lost hopes, lost friends, and lost youth. Evidently Watkins found religion after the war, undoubtedly to help him carry the burden of such a shattering experience, and he ends many of his appalling recollections with a comment like, ¿...but He who watcheth the sparrows fall does all things well¿. The juxtaposition of Watkins¿s courtly, warm, sentimental style to the horrors of battle and endless privations of a common soldier keeps a reader off-balance throughout the entire book. I expected some of the shocks Watkins brings, like the terrible destruction of the Army of Tennessee at the battles of Franklin and Nashville, but his descriptions about the treatment of deserters, the danger of scouting and picket duty, the deliberate starvation of the army under Gen. Braxton Bragg, and men 'left weltering in their blood' are unsettling despite the long passage of time. Watkins has a knack for depictions of casual brutality and the capriciously quick manner in which men lost their lives in every conceivable way during the conflict. When the Army of Tennessee surrenders in April 1865, Sam Watkins is one of seven surviving sparrows of the original 130-man flock of Company H, Maury Grays.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent recount of the Civil War experience. Easy reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was required reading for our history class in Georgia. We took turns reading aloud. We took field trips to visit sites identified in the book (Chickamauga, Fort Oglethorpe, Chattanooga). My brother is a Civil War buff and had a different history teacher so he never read it. I'm very happy to find it for his birthday, albeit 30 years later!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a very good book. one of the best i have read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed Sam Watkins' account of life in the Confederate Army. Aren't a lot of books from the Southern point of view and especially enjoyed this one because it was written by someone who was actually there and was just an everyday soldier.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Corporal Watkins gives us an insight into what life was like in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Although Sam makes some errors in this book, I found this to be very informative, and entertaining.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most history books concentrate on the sweeping campaigns of the commanders, telling us that General So-and-So did what. In truth, it is the PBI or the average soldier that, suffering greatly, wins or loses the battles. In a way, any wage-slave of post-modern America can empathize with Corporal Sam Watkins.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is by far the greatest work I've ever read concerning the great men in gray. The author wrote this book with all the heart and inspiration you'd expect from a Southerner. I found myself to the point of tears thinking about my noble ancestors and their struggles during the War Between the States.