Among the many books aboutAmong the many books about the Civil War, Company Aytch stands out for its uniquely personal view of life as a Confederate Soldier. The author, Sam Watkins was an engaging writer with Twain-like talents who served as a foot soldier for four long years in the Confederate army. Originally published in 1881, Watkins' account has long been recognized by historians as one of the most lively and witty narratives of the war.
Watkins' novel-like autobiography of his years with the Army of Tennessee cover his service on the front lines of every major battle including Shiloh, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Franklin and Nashville. Much more impressionistic than a historic telling of the facts, Company Aytch lays bare the attitude of a rebel private who endured starvation, forced marches, punishing battles and the monotony of camp life while serving the "Lost Cause."
Watkins did an excellent job of letting the reader into his head, revealing the thinking shared by ordinary soldiers who paid for the Civil War drama with their youth, blood and life. Parallels between Company Aytch and The Red Badge of Courage suggest that Stephen Crane was among Private Watkins's readers.