By Sam Watkins
Even before it was prominently featured in Ken Burns’ award winning documentary, The Civil War, Sam Watkins’ memoir Co. “Aytch” The First Tennessee Regiment or a Side show to the Big Show, was a classic of Civil War literature, and widely heralded my many historians as one of the best memoirs of the war written by a common soldier.
At the outset to the Civil War Watkins was one of 120 men who enlisted in Company H of the 1st Tennessee Infantry. He and his comrades were in virtually every major battle of the war in its Western theater. By the time the war ended in April 1865, Watkins was one of seven members of the company who were still alive when General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered the Army of Tennessee to Major-General William Tecumseh Sherman.
Soon after his return home Sam Watkins began to write his memoir. His engaging narrative captures the pageantry and monotony, the glory and misery, the humor and drama, the pride and horror experienced by a common soldier of the Confederate in the Western Theater.
Zenith Press has pulled Watkins’ dusty and well worn volume from the shelf and republished it in a new and glorious illustrated edition. Every word of Sam Watkins’ text has been preserved and supplemented with 175 color photographs, illustrations and maps. Period photographs and illustrations of politicians and military men, places and landmarks, camp life and battle scenes take their place beside post-war artworks, modern photographs of artifacts, battlefields, monuments, and reenactments which have been gathered from the Library of Congress, the George Eastman House, the National Parks Service, the National War College, as well as many other of this country’s major Civil War collections.
Supplementary text is added from the Civil War generals such as James Longstreet and William T. Sherman as well as modern Pulitzer Prize winning historians Doris Kearns Goodwin, James M. McPherson, Allan Nevins and Bruce Catton.
Zenith Press’ Co. "Aytch": The First Tennessee Regiment or a Side Show to the Big Show: The Complete Illustrated Edition breathes new life to Watkins’ memoir for its 21st Century readers. It would be a welcome addition to any Civil War student’s library, even if he already owns an earlier, and I’m sure dog-eared and well read, edition.
ISBN 978-0760347751, Zenith Press, © 2015, Hardcover, 9.5 x 10.5 x 1 inches 256 glossy pages, Maps, Photographs & Illustrations, Index. $35.00. To purchase a copy of this book click HERE.