2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
Life and the Civil War
The Life of the Soldier

Tennessee Monument at Gettysburg
In 1861, Sam Watkins, a store clerk, answered the call of his home state by enlisting as a Private in the 1st Tennessee, Company H. Remaining with his unit throughout the conflict, he later put pen to paper, writing about the tedium and terror of war for his children. After nearly 20 years, the war remained fresh in his mind. Unlike so many grand histories, Sam tended towards the experiences of the common soldier while avoiding the more epic tellings of the mythical glory and grandeur of war. Towards the end of his reminiscences, he would include a simple but elegantly summary.

"We were inured to privations and hardships; had been upon every march, in every battle, in every skirmish, in every advance, in every retreat, in every victory, in every defeat. We had laid under the burning heat of a tropical sun; had made the cold, frozen earth our bed, with no covering save the blue canopy of heaven; had braved dangers, had breasted floods; had seen our comrades slain upon our right and our left hand; had heard guns that carried death in their missiles; had heard the shouts of the charge; had seen the enemy in full retreat and flying in every direction; had heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded and dying; had seen the blood of our countrymen dyeing the earth and enriching the soil; had been hungry when there was nothing to eat; had been in rags and tatters. We had marked the frozen earth with bloody and unshod feet; had been elated with victory and crushed by defeat; had seen and felt the pleasure of the life of a soldier, and had drank the cup to its dregs. Yes, we had seen it all, and had shared in its hopes and its fears; its love and its hate; its good and its bad; its virtue and its vice; its glories and its shame. [41]