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Co. Aytch

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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  3,477 ratings  ·  192 reviews
Early in May 1861, twenty-one-year-old Sam R. Watkins of Columbia, Tennessee, joined the First Tennessee Regiment. He fought in all of its major 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 the remarkable account of "Co. Aytch," its common foot soldiers, its com ...more
Audio CD, 8 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1882)
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Jwduke Watkins tells you in the book; He wishes to offer what a private saw.
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  3,477 ratings  ·  192 reviews


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Diane Barnes
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I always shot at privates. It was they that did the shooting and killing, and if I could kill or wound a private why, my chances were so much the better. I always looked upon officers as harmless personages".

I have wanted to read this book since Sam Watkins was so heavily quoted in Ken Burns Civil War documentary. I found it in a used book sale a couple of months ago and snatched it up. I knew it would make a great stocking stuffer for my husband at Christmas, but of course I would read it mys
...more
Susan
Oct 31, 2008 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
...more
Ned
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true account of a lowly confederate private, in his own inimical style, written from memory 20 years after the fact. This funny, self-effacing author is actually quite remarkable. He deflects “real” accounts to the history books, but describes the life of a foot soldier, the doldrums and hard work, along with the actual terrors of war with the hail of lead and explicit rendering of human flesh. I must say, for a supposedly illiterate soldier at the very bottom of the tier of a failed war effor ...more
Murray Melder
Jan 05, 2013 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
...more
Ellie
Dec 19, 2014 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
...more
Kyle
Sep 02, 2009 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
...more
Chris
Oct 08, 2011 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.
Laura
I listened to this on Libravox and thoroughly enjoyed hearing a middle Tennessean's memories of his part in the Civil War. My only complaint would be that the narrator had the Tennessee accent, but over all this was a fascinating glimpse into one man's war experience.
Ben Vogel
Oct 09, 2012 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
...more
Victor Davis
Feb 23, 2016 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
The Celtic Rebel (Richard)
This has been said by others before me, but I also agree -- this is the best memoir written by a regular soldier during the Civil War. I learned so much about what the soldiers saw and experienced during the war. A great resource for lovers of history or Civil War buffs.
Wanda
Dec 17, 2011 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.
Lillian Slater
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sam Watkins memoir, Co. Aytch, was breath-taking! He describes the Civil War from a humble private's side of things. And the way he describes things! Watkins has such a sense of humor, mixed with the reality of the situation. Highly recommend this book!
Neto Alvarez
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For someone who wants to feel the day to day of a southern soldier
Bill
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war
This should be the one Confederate memoir for the layman to read; there aren't many good reasons for non-academicians to go around reading more than one Confederate memoir. Co. Aytch would hold its own as a work of fiction, it reads so well.

I found two things jarring about the book. The first is the increasing incidence of invocations to the glory of the "Lost Cause" and of affirmations of Watkins' faith as the book (and the war) progresses. I took these to be a reflection of Watkins' memory as
...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 returns t
...more
Margaret Skrivseth
Feb 10, 2013 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
...more
Murray Melder
Jan 05, 2013 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
...more
Michael
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another 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 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.
Abby
Mar 17, 2014 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.
Grace Sarver
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book was very moving. The reality of war is uncovered for all to see, as is the authors unyielding and optimistic spirit. His faith in God is mentioned frequently, something I think sheds light on his willingness to continue on and never give up. These writings were Originally newspaper Articles, for this reason the storyline is very episodic. needless to say, this book surprised me greatly, as I'm not crazy about war accounts at all, but the author's focus on people really intrigued me.
Sue
May 28, 2013 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.
C. Scott
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A unique and fascinating portrait of life in the Confederate ranks from someone who was there for the whole thing. A great if at times quite grisly read. Not for the faint. Watkins has a charming and entertaining voice even for a modern reader. This volume is a must-read for anyone who's interested in the Civil War.
Sean Chick
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that is comedic, exciting, moving, and scary from one moment to another. In other words, it is classic of history, memoir, and literature.
EJ Daniels
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Renowned more for its style than its substance and its high jinks than its history, Samuel Watkin's Company Aytch is a memoir about remembering war as much as it is a memoir about a war. Replete with just the right amount of mythology, Watkin's gripping and distinctly human record of his service with the 1st Tennessee is an essential read for any serious student of the War Between the States, although readers are cautioned to be careful what they trust.

Originally conceived as a series of newspa
...more
Deb
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war, memoir
This has been on my book shelf since Ken Burns' "The Civil War" first aired. Sam Watkins of the First Tennessee Regiment (known as The Maury Grays) was one of two soldiers Burns used as exemplars of Rebel and Union enlisted men. As a result of this connection, I had high expectations for this memoir. I was disappointed.
Watkins wrote this collection of memories of his long war some twenty years after the fighting ended. He wrote largely of the experience of the infantryman, without attempting any
...more
E B
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is by and large one of the greatest memoirs I have ever read of a civil war soldier. Written be a self proclaimed basic private 20 years after the war. His recollection of the war is vivid with a clearly careful stance not to share information which he doesn't recall in exacting detail. I have never read a memoir of a soldier that felt more genuine and honest.

Almost more impressive is the fact that the writer made it through the war and through the battles in which he fought as he saw some
...more
Bob Croft
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of generals and admirals and cabinet ministers have written war memoirs; one gets a different perspective reading the very rare memoir from the trenches.
I see Joseph Plumb Martin often quoted by Revolutionary War scholars; reading his book was enlightening. Similarly, on the Confederacy, Company Aytch (being how a recruit into the First
Tennessee would pronounce "H").
In the recent movie "The Free State of Jones", I'd noted the phrase "rich man's war, poor man's fight" and took it to be a
...more
Michele
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the author will tell you , ad nauseum, this isn't a book about THE Civil War. It's a book about what life was like for a Rebel private during that great conflict.

This is a narrative, 20 years after the fact, written by a man who managed to be in all the great battles of the war, surviving four years of fighting for the Lost Cause (his term). Sam will tell you this isn't a history. But I'm pretty sure he recognizes it as such. It's history the way most of the men who fought on either side rem
...more
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Samuel Rush "Sam" Watkins (June 26, 1839 – July 20, 1901) was an American writer and humorist. He fought through the entire Civil War and saw action in many major battles. Today, he is best known for his enduring memoir, "Co. Aytch," which recounts his life as a soldier in the Confederate States Army.

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