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.
Company Aytchby Samuel "Sam" Rush Watkins
Sam Watkins writes a novel like autobiography of his years with the Army of Tennessee. His service saw the front lines of every major battle including Shiloh, Chickamagua, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Franklin and Nashville. Amazingly, this rebel came through intact and lived to vividly record his experiences. This book is much more impressionistic than a historic telling of the facts (which Watkins reminds the reader frequently). It lays bare the attitude of a rebel private (although one suspects Watkins is much more literate and sophistocated than many of his fellows in the ranks) who endured starvation, forced marches, punishing battles and the monotony and arbitrary nature of camp life while serving a losing cause. Watkins does an excellent job of letting the reader into his head. He reveals well the base existence and actions of ordinary soldiers who paid for the drama of the Civil War with their youth, blood and life.
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The book 'company aytch' is an excellant story of one mans' life and hardships during the war between the states. this book tells the everyday life of the common confederate soldier.
I first read this book when I was a US History major at Ball State University in the 70's. I have since re-read this book many times. I was moved by it's compelling first-hand accounts of the war from the high spirited begining to its painful end. This war has been so romanticised that modern Americans forget just how terrible this war really was for all Americans. One unforgetful line penned by Watkins is that there is no glory on the battlefield. He chronicles the excited begining of the war through the grinding daily existence of a battle hardened soldier to the distress of defeat after such a high cost was paid in lives lost. This book shows how even a war that may be seen as just by all combatants is still a horrific affair for all who go through the experience.
This book was written by an ex-confederate who was in the 1st Tennessee during the Civil War, probably the best memoir book ever written.