Sam R. Watkins' Story Essay

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Sam R. Watkins was a Confederate soldier from Columbia, Tennessee. At age twenty-one, Watkins joined the First Tennessee Regiment along with one hundred and nineteen other young men and boys. He was one of only seven men to survive every one of its battles. He writes a memoir twenty years after being in the war about his experience as a private. Watkins juxtaposes stories of horror and gruesome death with humorous memories throughout his four years in the war. Though morale became very low toward the end of the war, Watkins recounts the passion the privates felt for both the war and for their beloved …show more content…
The men … living principally upon parched corn, which had been picked out of the mud and dirt under the feet of officer’s horses.” Civilians that the soldiers encountered were often also starved. In one memoir, Watkins tells of how a group of privates distract an old lady while they steal her hog, only to find that she herself is starving. Watkins feels terrible after he learns of her situation, and returns to pay her with confederate dollars that his father has given him. Hygiene was poor, and the soldiers would sometimes play gambling games with the lice that could always be found on their body or in their beds. Toward the end of the war, many soldiers went barefoot in the snow and were driven to taking the shoes of the corpses on the battlefield. This winter also happened to be one of the coldest in history, and some men wore little but rags on their backs. There was also a lack of weapons in the various companies. In one account, Watkins describes a competition of sorts where a particularly fine rifle was the prize. Men often were without a rifle, and instead yielded rakes and threw rocks during battles. Casualties were very high, and Watkins depicts a gruesome image of seeing a pile of discarded limbs at a field hospital. He gives details about young men, even at age 15, dying slow and painful deaths on the battlefield for their country.
Toward the end of the war in

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