Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Company Aytch” as Want to Read:
Company Aytch
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Company Aytch

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  2,637 Ratings  ·  138 Reviews
Told from the point of view of an ordinary foot soldier, this personal memoir has been hailed as one of the liveliest, wittiest, and most significant commentaries ever written on the Civil War.

Samuel Rush Watkins was a private in the Confederate Army, a twenty-one-year-old Southerner from Tennessee who knew about war but had never experienced it firsthand.

With the immediac
274 pages
Published (first published 1882)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 31, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Civil War buff or anyone interested in engaging first person accounts of history
This book was written by a "family connection," a distinction that probably only matters to old Southern women. Sam Watkins married a relative of mine. The book is a nice thing to talk about at family reunions, so I thought I would pull it from Project Gutenberg and read it.

I have now learned that this memoir is considered to be the or one of the best primary-source accounts of the private experience in the Civil War.

I was certainly blown away by a lot of it. Sam tells his story in a way that is
Oct 08, 2011 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful yet astounding writer is Sam R. Watkins. He writes of memory and life as a private soldier. Never once did I want to put this book down. Sam R. Watkins is a very lucid and elaborate writer as I would consider it a work of art. As you're reading along you feel as if you were there, living the life of a confederate soldier. This is a must read for any commoner who wants to get a little bit of knowledge of what the Civil War was really like; you wont regret reading it.
Dec 19, 2014 Ellie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this was good.

This was written about twenty years after the American Civil War by a Confederate soldier, Sam Watkins. He served as a private, and this book is his recollections of various events in the Civil War as they happened to him. As Watkins tells the reader repeatedly, he isn't trying to write a history, as there have been plenty of those already. Instead, he wrote down short recollections of battles, humorous events that happened while he was on guard duty, etc. I liked this book be
Sep 02, 2009 Dr. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war
Watkins wrote this book near his death in his eighties, long after he fought with the confederate army of the tennesee through four years and all of it's major campaigns. As you read the book he continues to remind you that he is no writer and no historian and if you want the facts thats who you should talk to, this is just how he saw it.

Quickly the reader comes to see that for these very reasons this account offers something that no historian ever could. We hear about him foraging for a bite t
Murray Melder
Jan 05, 2013 Murray Melder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My G-G-Grandfather was Sam Watkins' sergeant in the 1st Vol. Infantry Co. H until he was wounded through the knee and subsequentially captured by the Federal troops the battle of Perryville. To hear the vivid accounts given in this book by a man directly under the command of my blood relative is exhilarating and very humbling.

I was even more impressed when I started reading the book and found that he was a decent writer.

My opinion is grossly biased because of my direct connection to the writer
Dec 17, 2011 Wanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gifted storyteller's first hand account of everything from the day-to-day life of a Confederate private soldier to several major battles of the Civil War.
Victor Davis
Feb 23, 2016 Victor Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war
What an amazing man this was. What I thought would basically be a war journal, akin to All for the Union or Red Badge of Courage was so much more. Sam Watkins was an extraordinarily intelligent, well-spoken, nuanced man. He balances a tone of whimsical despair with fierce patriotism. He speaks of his soldierly duty without lecturing on the divisive issues of the day. The Civil War is often called "a rich man's war, but a poor man's fight." To exemplify this, read The Cause of the South, followed ...more
Ben Vogel
Oct 09, 2012 Ben Vogel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a reason this book is so often quoted and cited in Civil War literature. It is a pure and unfiltered account; a remarkable chronology of a Confederate soldier who participated in nearly every major battle of the war. Watkins' story is filled with humor, tragedy, and every reflection in between. What he lacked in education he made up for with passionate writing of his amazing experiences.

I had never before considered the irony of Civil War soldiers dying from tornadoes in their camps, b
Margaret Skrivseth
Feb 10, 2013 Margaret Skrivseth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-cw
I've had a love/hate relationship with the Civil War for years. So, it was with mixed feelings that I began this book.

But, I'm so glad I did read it! This book provided a unique personal history of the Civil War. Sam Watkins, the author, recorded his experiences as a private in Company H of the Maury Greys. Taken from a series of newspaper articles written 20 years after the end of the war, the book provides Watkins'own memories of all aspects of serving in the army. He speaks of the cold, the l
Oct 09, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-edition
For anyone interested in the American Civil War, this is a must read. This first-person account of the war from the perspective of a Confederate soldier ranges from funny to heartbreaking. Sam Watkins writes in a breezy, energetic style which could have easily been a modern day blog—with brief, episodic entries which span his four year career as a "Johnny Reb." You can read about the big battles and the politics behind the scenes, but you won't have a complete picture of this conflict until you' ...more
Joshua Horn
Mar 31, 2012 Joshua Horn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the most famous memoir of the Civil War, and for good reason. It gives a unique look at the Civil War, from the perspective of the private soldier. He often says he is not writing the history of campaigns and generals, but of what he saw as a soldier during the war. He has a different style as well. He writes in sections of a few paragraphs that are really separate stories. Its a very useful look into how the Civil War effected real people.
Mar 17, 2014 Abby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all the civil war books I have read, this is the most accurate, amusing, sobering and wonderful of them all.
Sam Watkins gives us the true and eyeopening tale of what it was like being a private soldier in the Confederate Army, and tells it so well, with witty character, of his experiences while accurately describing the horrors and realities of war.

I would recommend this book to young and old, especially those who have an interest in Civil War history.
May 28, 2013 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: slaves-civil-war
Highest marks for this book. It is true that God left this man alive for a reason: he is a very good storyteller. I don’t know why this book got by me for so many years, but now I’ve finally come across it. Love authentic descriptions and, even though it's from a legitimate Confederate survivor, his words are golden. Good read, by all means.
Joyce Lagow
A well-written, very articulate memoir of the Civil War written 20 years later by a private in the Confederate Army of Tennessee.[return][return]While Watkins constantly claims to write about only what he saw as a common solider, leaving the overall accounts of batttles, such as how fought and casualties to the history books, he does more than record what he observed. His account is laced with sarcasm towards many of the officers of the Confederate army, and his judgement of Braxton Bragg is ext ...more
William P.
Jan 02, 2017 William P. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bill Freil
Jan 20, 2017 Bill Freil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent memoirs. A must read

Great storyteller. Watkins speaks off the cuff. Great details of his life. He shows war for what it is both terrible and realistic. He does make it sound like it's heroic.
Nov 14, 2016 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The extra notes and edits from Sam Watkins included in this edition are good, but not necessary to enjoyment of the whole.
Jan 02, 2017 Leo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war
This was a great book. For me, I started to lose interest after the first half of the book. I appreciated the perspective of the civil war this book provided.
Kendrick Hughes
Mar 02, 2017 Kendrick Hughes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting easy read on the life of a soldier.
Wayne S.
Feb 27, 2015 Wayne S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, Chattanoog ...more
May 30, 2016 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While Sam reminds us numerous times in his memoir that he isn’t writing a history just what he saw, felt, and lived through, he actually was writing a valuable piece of history. It is an account from the eyes of a private in the Confederate Army, (Army of Tennessee) written 20 years after the end of the war. All from his personal account of what he lived and what the soldiers around him went through during the four years of war.

He gives quite a graphic image of what those men went through, there
James (JD) Dittes
Among the half-dozen first-hand accounts of the Civil War I have read, Sam Watkins's recollections are the finest.

Most interesting is the breadth of Watkins's experience in the war. Enlisting soon after Tennessee had seceded, Watkins followed Company H through nearly every battle in the war's western theater (the only significant fighting--the battles at forts Donelson and Henry, a time in which Watkins was tramping through the Shenandoah Valley under Stonewall Jackson's command. He returned to
Co. Aytch was comprised of nearly 4,000 men from northern Tennessee who marched to Virginia to fight, not for slavery, but for independence from a bossy, overbearing government. Sam Watkins was one of only 65, yes 65, men to return 4 years later after seeing action in many of the major battles of the Civil War. Men went to war with friends and family; sometimes every man in town would serve and none come back home. Watkins tells us of mothers along the trail pushing their daughters on the soldie ...more
Theo Logos
Twenty years after participating in the war that reshaped American history forever, Sam Watkins sat down to write his memoirs, without benefit of journal or notes. He commenced his tale with a short, folksy parable of the cause of the war, as Southerners saw it. He then quickly launched into telling the tale as he viewed it - not from the heights of a general officer, but from the mud and dust covered ground-eye view of a common "webfoot" infantry soldier. In doing so, he created what is perhaps ...more
Keith Akers
Nov 18, 2011 Keith Akers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book although it shouldn't be your very first exposure to the history of the Civil War.

Sam Watkins is a good writer. He tells the story of the war from his point of view, a Confederate soldier on the battle lines. The book was written many years after the war but it's clear that it made a great impression on him and many details stand out clearly. The story is sequentially told, and includes battles as well as everything else that went on (unlike "Hard Tack and Coffee," which is
Aug 09, 2013 Burt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting read. I would not have expected a private in the Confederate Army (or the Union Army for that matter) to have been so well grounded in the sociology of the army within which he lived for all four long years of The Civil War. The book is not only autobiographical within that expanse of time, but also well enough composed to serve almost as a sum of Operation Reports (OR's) for Company H of the First Tennessee Infantry, at least from the perspective of the average foot ...more
Delway Burton
Dec 20, 2013 Delway Burton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of the many volumes about the American Civil War, this small book stands out. Written by Sam Watkins, a private in the Army of the Tennessee, it offers a unique perspective on this conflict which tore the nation apart. Written 20 years after the war as a series of newspaper articles, the collection became a best seller. As Watkins states, "Generals lose battles, privates lose their lives," and this point of view pervades the book.
He somehow lives thru some of the largest battles of the war, Shi
James (JD) Dittes
What is the audiobook equivalent of "couldn't put it down"? From the hour I downloaded Co. Aytch, I couldn't pull my earbuds out. I finished it in a day and a half.

Sam Watkins is a compelling storyteller. He left his home town of Columbia, Tennessee, at age 21 to follow the Stars & Bars. He would stay with the army--and his regiment--to the bitter end: Joseph E. Johnston's surrender to Sherman at Greensboro, NC. After an initial foray with Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, he retur
Feb 11, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andrew by: Josef DeMario
When I asked my family Civil War enthusiast to recommend a book to introduce me to one of America's most tragic chapters, I was handed Company Aytch, the collected memoirs of Samuel Rush Watkins, a non-slave-owning Confederate soldier.

Written more than a decade after the end of the war, this is not a respected historical work. It contains no reliable quotations, facts, or figures. It doesn't even pretend to be unbiased. Instead, it is a surprisingly personal account of the military career of on
Steven Peterson
Jan 25, 2010 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sam Watkins' observations on the Civil War represent a gem. Here is a foot soldier of the Confederate Army, making his own pithy observations about his generals. On Braxton Bragg, he noted after the disaster at Missionary Ridge, "Poor fellow, he looked so hacked and whipped, and mortified and chagrined at defeat, and all along the line, when Bragg would pass, the soldiers would raise the yell, 'Here is your mule;' 'Bully for Bragg, he's h--l on retreat.'" As for John Bell Hood, the overmatched g ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • All for the Union: The Civil War Diary & Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes
  • The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy
  • Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander
  • Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam
  • Hardtack and Coffee or, The Unwritten Story of Army Life
  • General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier
  • This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga
  • Gettysburg--Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill
  • Glory Road
  • The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command
  • From Manassas To Appomattox
  • The Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers
  • In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain and the American Civil War
  • Three Months in the Southern States: April-June 1863
  • The Passing of Armies: An Account of the Final Campaign of the Army of the Potomac
  • For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War
  • Lee's Lieutenants, Volume 2: A Study in Command, Cedar Mountain to Chancellorsville
Samuel “Sam” Rush Watkins 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.

More about Samuel Rush Watkins...

Share This Book

“While at Colonel Niel's marquee I saw a detail of soldiers bring out a man by the name of Rowland, whom they were going to shoot to death with musketry, by order of a court-martial, for desertion. He was being hauled to the place of execution in a wagon, sitting on an old gun box, which was to be his coffin. When they got to the grave, which had been dug the day before, the water had risen in it, and a soldier was baling it out. Rowland spoke up and said, 'Please hand me a drink of that water, as I want to drink out of my own grave so the boys will talk about it when I am dead, and remember Rowland.” 0 likes
“But we soon found out that the glory of war was at home among the ladies and not upon the field of blood and carnage of death, where our comrades were mutilated and torn by shot and shell.” 0 likes
More quotes…