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Company Aytch--Some Comments - Civil War Books - Civil War Entertainment: Books, Movies, Music & Art - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2007 03:07 pm
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CleburneFan
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This isn't really a review of "Company Aythch, the expanded edition. For a review please check the one done by Javal. I sure as heck am not going to presume to compete with him on a book review. I just want to give my informal impressions of this book which I had never had the pleasure and privilege to read before the new edition was released.

What a pleasure this book was and what a revelation! I darned nearly fell in love with the writer Sam Watkins. Wouldn't I love to sit down to dinner with him and draw him out even more on his adventures, misadventures, impressions and frustrations with the war.

It was so intersting and so different to read the experiences of what he called a "web-foot private"  because his regiment the First Tennessee Infantry fought for four long years participating in some of the bloodiest  most crucial battles of the war, such as Shiloh, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, the battles leading up to the loss of Atlanta and the treacherous and disastrous Battles of Franklin and Nashville.

That he survived all this almost unscathed except for a heel wound and a finger wound, plus the usual cuts and scrapes of an infantryman is a wonder all by itself. His comments about the various generals who led him, especially disciplinarian Braxton Bragg--the "whipper and brander"-- J E Johnston, John Bell Hood, Cheatham, Patrick Cleburne are all an education.

Watkins tells funny stories and painfully sad stories. I cried more than once. He is so human and you feel as if you know him personally. He doesn't mind telling the reader how much he loved some of his fellow soldiers and the sorrow of their deaths. He loved and honored some of his generals too, but often mentions how generals get the glory while  the burden of war is for privates. Watkins desribed how privates are treated little better than criminals. Yet he stayed. He never deserted. He never shirked his duty. Given the horrors he witnessed and the amount of questioning of the war as time went on, one wonders why.

Toward the end he asks if the four years of sacrifice were worth the heartache, physical cost and emotional strain. He writes about it briefly several times, but most poignantly after the Battles of Franklin and Nashville. What is so meaningful about the way he writes this is that the very same words could be written today by Viet Nam vets or veterans of the current Middle Eastern struggles.

When the book ended, I felt empty because I wanted him to write more. I wanted to know what the period after the war was like, how it was to go home defeated, how it was to marry his girlfiend who had waited four long years for his return. But most of all, I just missed Sam Watkins, because he had grown to be a friend of sorts-- a true Civil War "insider" who told the unvarnished truth as he remembered it.

"Company Aytch" is such a fascinating book. One reading of it will not be enough.

Last edited on Thu Dec 6th, 2007 03:09 pm by CleburneFan



 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2007 03:13 pm
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CleburneFan
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Horror of Horrors, I see I misspelled "Company Aytch" in the title of this thread, dishonoring the regiment in the process! I am really sorry about that and apologize to Sam Watkins, too!!:(



 Posted: Sat Dec 8th, 2007 11:03 am
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susansweet
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Fan,

You review of the new verison  is so familiar to me.  It is how I felt last spring when I read the orginal verison before going on the Muster to Franklin.  It is on my list of top books I have read on any subject.  I too felt like Sam was a freind of mine by the end of the book. 

When I read the book I could not put it down.  I was laughing one minute and then crying the next.  I can't wait to get a copy of the new edition.  I have sent a request to my sister in law for the book as my Christmas present.  She came though last year with For Cause &For Country which is also an excellent book. 

We who were at the Franklin Muster were honored to have Tom Cartwright of the Carter House do a first person Sam Watkins for us the last night at the dinner.  For over an hour we had Sam with us in person talking about his four years with Company Aytch . 

Susan



 Posted: Sat Dec 8th, 2007 01:03 pm
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Roger
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I would quite like to have a read of this myself.
Can someone post the isbn of the new edition please. I will be probably have to order this from the US so I'd like to make sure I get the right one.
Thank you,

Roger



 Posted: Sat Dec 8th, 2007 01:09 pm
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Roger
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Disregard the above post. All I had to do was look properly.

Roger



 Posted: Wed Dec 12th, 2007 12:09 am
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CleburneFan
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Susan, I just wanted to tell you that you were the reason I wanted to read "Co. Aytch" because you posted very compelling comments about it several months ago inspiring me to  go get a copy then and there. Turns out it wasn't such an easy matter to find. So when Javal announced a new edition, I ordered it from Amazon that same day.



 Posted: Wed Dec 12th, 2007 06:14 am
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susansweet
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Fan , thank you so much for that comment.   I so dearly love this book.  Sam is someone I would love to pull up a chair and sit and listen to him talk.  After reading the book I have discovered I have a great great grandfather that was in the Army of  Tennessee  with Stephen Dill.  So Sam's comments are even more moving to me.  I am hoping my sister in law finds a copy of the new edition for my Christmas present.  I can't wait to read what Sam wanted to change. 

take care , Fan.

Susan

Last edited on Thu Jan 3rd, 2008 05:34 pm by susansweet



 Posted: Thu Dec 13th, 2007 07:10 pm
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connyankee
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I read a beat-up paperback copy of Co. Aytch several years ago- what a great book!

At the time, I thought it a bizarre mixture of humor and horror, a tale that only a soldier could write and one that only he had the talent for telling.  It's one of my favorites.  My updated copy is due to arrive today from amazon.  Ah, but there's a heck of a snow and ice storm going on outside...

Had the pleasure of visiting Sam's grave while passing through Mount Pleasant and Columbia a couple of years ago.

:)



 Posted: Thu Dec 13th, 2007 07:41 pm
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susansweet
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A package came in the mail yesterday from my brother and sister in law.  I didn't really open it but seems Amazon sends a packing slip with the gifts in an envelope that says don't open before you open the package.  HA!  I looked   I now have a copy of the New Company Aytch.  Of course I can't open the package and read the book til Christmas.   I love my sister in law, she always asks me what books I want for Christmas. 

Susan



 Posted: Thu Dec 13th, 2007 07:41 pm
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susansweet
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double post , sorry

Last edited on Thu Dec 13th, 2007 07:42 pm by susansweet



 Posted: Thu Jan 3rd, 2008 05:15 am
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57oh
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Have read and re-read Co. Aytch. Mainly because I have failed to see what everyone believes is so great about it? Sam did a decent job. I've read many diaries and letters that IMHO depicted the War as well~~if not better.He did get a bit of TV exposure. :) I hope to read the "new" version.



 Posted: Thu Jan 3rd, 2008 01:14 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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Susan,

I don't mean to be nit-picky, but you mentioned the Army of THE Tennessee. That particular army was a Yankee army, not one in which Watkins wanted to be in.

Watkins was in the Army of Tennessee, so called after the State....The Army of The Tennessee was so named after the River.

I bring this up because I don't want you to look for your great-great grandfather in the wrong army.



 Posted: Thu Jan 3rd, 2008 05:34 pm
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susansweet
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Albert thanks so much for pointing that out.  I do know the difference.  Can't believe I typed the THE in the middle.  Poor Great great grandfather just rolled over in his grave I am sure.  Will edit the THE out .    I have a hard enough time finding the man, his name as I knew it was spelled Hoyle  but I have found Franklyn Hoyle spelled Hoeyl and Hoyl  so far .  each time it is Franklin and in the same regiment .  Another place  I found him he was listed with a wife named Catherine and a daughter Margaret so I know even though different spelling he must be the same man.  Gotta love that 19th century spelling .  Or 20th century reading of 19th century handwriting . 

Susan



 Posted: Thu Jan 3rd, 2008 05:39 pm
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susansweet
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Sam's book is not a diary or a series of letters but a memory of what he experienced many years after the war.  I love Sam's writing because of his use of words.  He has a way of describing the things that happened .  He has made me laugh at some of his tales and cry at others.  He isn't telling the big picture, as he says you want that see the generals.  He is only telling his part in the big picture, what he experienced.  He was quoted in the Civil War series I believe because he had such a way with words that he is very quotable. 

 



 Posted: Thu Jan 3rd, 2008 06:00 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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Susan,

Have you applied for your g-g- grandfather's service record? Those are always interesting to have!

I have the service record for the soldier than I portray when I reenact. Interestingly, he's listed as dying two times!!.....hmmmm.....Now, I hafta figure out which is right, ie, where did he die/where's he buried?

 



 Posted: Thu Jan 3rd, 2008 07:25 pm
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susansweet
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Albert I do have Francis Marion Davis' Mississippi Mounted Militia records ,  He served about a year then was sick , wounded and had small children at home so went home.  That is what it says on a paper I have from his comanding officer in the paperwork for my cousin's application for UDC.  He had a 680 acre farm in Northern Mississippi Marshall County. 

I also have the military record of my great grandfather on my father's side.  Aaron Sweet 19th Michigan fought at Thompson Station captured, sent by cattle car to Richmond , held in Libby Prison for about a month.  Left prison in exchange with a lung diease .  he was mustered out at Camp Chase Ohio and went home summer of 1864.  His whole Civil War career was one battle . 

My other Union Civil War soldiers were the older brothers of my other great grandfather they were with an Illinois regiment that did durty at Fort Donelson and Clarkville. One was Provost Marshall in Clarksville area.  The Morgan brothers were interesting as the oldest son had died storming the walls of Chapultepec in the Mexican war.  These two middle brothers were the Captain and Lieutenant of a company in  28th Illinois regiment and their little brother my great grandfather was in the transportation department  of the Quartermasters department in Clarksville the last year of the war. 

Doesn't seem to matter whether they were northern or southern my family all seemed to have been in Mississippi /Tennessee area during the war . 

My mother's family is southern all the way back to Colonial times, my father's family Northern all the way back to the same time periods. 

Me I am totally western having been born and raised in California where my parents met.

Susan



 Posted: Tue Jan 8th, 2008 09:43 pm
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Last edited on Wed Jan 9th, 2008 03:54 pm by 39th Miss. Walker



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