Rating: 4/5 stars.
I read this quite a few months ago for school. Then school told me to review a nonfiction book I’ve read. I really enjoyed this one so here’s a review.
“In these memoirs, after the lapse of twenty years, we propose to fight our “battles o’er again.””
This is certainly what Sam R. Watkins does. He tells his story of joining the First Tennessee Regiment, Company H, to fight for the Confederacy. He recounts their victories and their defeats. As one of seven of the original recruits to survive all of their battles from Shiloh to Nashville, it is a unique story. He tells the story not of a general or lieutenant, but of the average private and his thoughts on the war.
I really loved this story. It made the Civil War just come alive. The battles were so real and very bloody. There was such sad and dreadful memories. It was really shocking. So many people died either from being killed in battle, battle wounds, or infection in the wounds. The author does describe some very literally torn up people, but I loved the reality of it. He is recounting what he saw onto paper.
But this book doesn’t just dwell on the battles. There is also a good mix of humor which included lots of humorous stories. He tells of letters from home, staying at people’s house, and visiting hospitals. He tells the true thoughts of the foot soldiers. How there were certain leaders that they despised. How, at times, they just wished for the war to be over and they didn’t care who won anymore. How the Confederate soldiers would chat from where they were positioned to the Union soldiers across the way.
This showed me that a lot of people signed up for war thinking it would be exciting, an adventure, and they expected it to be over soon. Once they saw the reality of it, most of them didn’t want to fight anyone. But they were brave enough to not desert, because they would be executed or hanged if caught. They fought, even as they knew (towards the end of the war) that they were losing.
The writing style was different. It was first in person, but in past tense. I liked it though. It felt so much more true. Like an old man telling his story to you.
This was such a rich book and so full of life. I’ll recommend this book to anyone who can handle the bloody descriptions, because it is really worth the read. It opens your eyes to the truth of war.