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Co. Aytch: A Side Show of the Big Show
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Co. Aytch: A Side Show of the Big Show

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,684 ratings  ·  96 reviews
Samuel R. Watkins enlisted in the Confederate army in 1861, joining a company of 120 men. When the American Civil War ended four years later, he was one of only seven survivors from Company H. They had fought in every major action of the Army of Tennessee, from Shiloh to Nashville. In “Co. Aytch” he tells of his experiences on the battlefield, of the misery, glory, and hor...more
ebook, EPUB Edition
Published August 10th 2012 by Tales End Press (first published 1882)
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Susan
Nov 22, 2008 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Chris
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.
Dr.
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...more
Ben Vogel
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...more
Margaret Skrivseth
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...more
Murray Melder
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...more
Michael
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
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.
Sue
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.
Delway Burton
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...more
Steven Peterson
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
Abe Goolsby
What an unforgettable narrative of such a horrific period! SAM Watkins (I just noticed that this database has him mistakenly listed as PAUL Watkins!?) somehow managed to be caught up in every major battle of the western theatre, plus a brief stint with Stonewall Jackson during his Shenandoah Valley campaign, and lived to tell about it all! His delightfully eloquent style, coming from a man of only modest background and education, is a testimony not only to his own abilities but to the more remar...more
Keith Akers
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...more
Luckngrace
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
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...more
Joy H.
Re: _Company Aytch_ by Sam Watkins (added to my shelves 3/2011.)
(Company Aytch means Company H, the company Sam Watkins was in during the Civil War. He was in a Confederate regiment from TN.)

I was led to this book when watching Ken Burn's Civil War documentary*. The book is free online or via a device. See:
http://books.google.com/ebooks?id=Hyh...
(To read via your computer, click on "read on your device". Then scroll down and see "Read on your browser".)

So far I've read only up to page 19 but I...more
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
Timothy
First published in serials from 1881-82, this memoir, amongst several others I've read, is my favorite personal account by a soldier at the front during the Civil War. Sam Watkins was a Confederate infantryman involved in practically every major battle in the western theater; it's incredible he defied the statistical odds of surviving the entire conflict of "the War Between the States." Unlike a collection of day-to-day diary or journal entries, it's written as a short-chaptered narrative which,...more
Adam
I once had a history professor who said "History is not just a series of dates and famous names, but the stories of those who lived in the past." Although this book's greatest fault is that Watkins repeatedly reminds us that he is not writing an official history, that very fact is what makes his work so valuable.

The Civil War, an event so massive in the American psyche that nearly 150 years later we still appear unable to deal with it unless we oversimplify it, relegate it to cliches, or wallow...more
Andrew
Co. Aytch is a down-home, humorous, and human telling of the experiences of an enlisted man in the Confederate Army. Watkins served through the entire war with the 1st Tennessee Infantry, which served briefly under Stonewall Jackson (in his mishandled Romney campaign), and then in the Army of Tennessee for the remainder of the war. The author admits freely that he is not writing a history, and he does indeed make many factual errors in his narrative of the war. Co. Aytch is more valuable as a wi...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
Elizabeth Mundie
I first read this as a girl or young teen -- can't remember exactly when -- and it was too graphic for me then. Now, as an adult, I appreciate it. It is the memoir of a Confederate infantryman from Columbia, Tn. My mother's family have lived for generations in a small town outside of Columbia, and one of my relatives actually appears as a minor character in the book. Also, my great-grandfather was in a Confederate cavalry unit. To me, this memoir gives a window into what it was really like to fi...more
Kate
This book provides a unique perspective on the Civil War. A Private gives his interpretation of battlefield entanglements without the need to discuss grand design or intent. Watkins continually reminds the reader that if they are searching for the facts, they must search elsewhere; he simply offers brief glimpses of memories that are over 20 years old. Self deprecating and modest, the book forces the reader to laugh aloud on one page, while mourning the death of his comrades on the next. For Vet...more
Alesa
This was the memoir of a Confederate soldier in the Civil War, a private for four years. Oh me, oh my, what a miserable existence. I just couldn't wait for the war to get over. I had no idea that the army positioned a rear guard to shoot soldiers who retreated. That they shot soldiers for falling asleep during guard duty. That they whipped them regularly for small offenses. That they were frequently freezing, starving and/or barefoot. That they fell asleep during long night marches. That they us...more
Michael
I have had a strong interest in the War Between the States for many years, however, this is the first book I have ever read written by an actual participant in the war. I was initial concerned that the author's grammar and/or syntax would be difficult to understand. As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. Although it was published in 1882, the author's prose flowed as if it had been written last year. The author goes into, at times, graphic detail of the horrors of nineteenth century war...more
Abigail
One of the most accessible narratives of the Civil War. I found Sam Watkins's memoirs to be compelling and touching. He never goes for the grandeur of war and constantly reminds the reader that he tells only that which he saw. The scenes of battle are harrowing, and the scenes of daily life are filled with levity. His descriptions of his fallen comrades, especially those that served alongside him for years, convey the deep sense of personal loss without belaboring the point. While I would have l...more
Greg
Sam Watkins has perhaps the most compelling "voice" of any Civil War vet that I have read. He has a wonderful eye and ear for the absurd and the funny, and he manages, somehow, to recount horrific incidents (i.e. the frequent shooting of deserters and those who fall asleep on guard duty; men lingering with lethal injuries) in a cool manner.
He is also an unrepentant partisan (Confederate), but this does not compromise the interest of the text. Surprisingly (for me), his racism is most virulent wh...more
David Ward
"Co. Aytch", Maury Grays, First Tennessee Regiment; or, A side show of the big show by Samuel R. Watkins (McCowat-Mercer Press 1952)(973.78) is a first-person account of a Confederate private's service in the Civil War. Sam Watkins fought for four years with the Army of Tennessee and was involved in many if not most of the great battles of the Civil War. He was never an officer, though he received a battlefield promotion to corporal when he picked up a Union battle flag from the field. The book...more
Jill
I selected this book to read for my Civil War class and have absolutely no regrets! Watkins memoir is nothing short of amazing.
If you are looking for a history book with facts, figures, and strategies, this is not this book for you. Watkins, who was in Company H and saw or fought in every major battle of the war, tells of to war as it was seen by the privates. He shares every detail from battle to camp, from feasts to hunger, from fame to rags.
What I loved most is the way he shared these sto...more
Ryan
This book is an excellent source to discover the common soldier's experience of the Civil War. In the description it was compared to "The Red Badge of Courage," but this book is not as artistic, which is fine, because it was not written to be so. This book, in a way, reminds me of the following excerpt I once read of an interview between Katie Couric and a Marine, I believe:

"What do you feel when you shoot a terrorist?"--Couric

"A slight recoil."--the Marine

This point my be odd, but it shows that...more
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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.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Watkins
More about Samuel Rush Watkins...
Company Aytch Company Aytch Co. Aytch Company Aytch: Or, a Side Show of the Big Show Company Aytch

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