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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Columbia in Maury County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

Sam Watkins

A Common Soldier's Lasting Legacy

 
 
Sam Watkins Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Fletcher, November 29, 2014
1. Sam Watkins Marker
Inscription. Samuel Rush Watkins and his wife, Virginia (Jenny) Mayes Watkins, who worshipped here at Zion Presbyterian Church, are buried in the cemetery. In his book Company Aytch: or, a Side Show of the Big Show, Watkins left an incomparable memoir of his experiences as a rank-and-file soldier during the Civil War.

Watkins left his home a few miles west of here when the war began, enlisted in the 3rd Tennessee Infantry, and then transferred to Co. H (the Maury Grays), 1st Tennessee Infantry. He fought in the battles of Shiloh, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, Franklin, and Nashville, among others. Of the 120 men who enlisted in Co. H in 1861, Watkins was one of only 7 remaining when Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston's Army of Tennessee surrendered to Union Gen. William T. Sherman in April 1865.

Watkins first published Company Aytch as a serial in the Columbia Herald newspaper. Issued in book form in 1882, Company Aytch had a production run of only 2,000 copies. Watkins's father, Frederick Henry Watkins, provided the money with understanding that he would receive "first fruits" from the book's sales.

Filmmaker Ken Burns boosted the popularity of Company Aytch when he used selections from it in his groundbreaking 1990 documentary, The Civil War. In 2007, Watkins's great-grand-daughter published an expanded
Sam Watkins Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Fletcher, November 29, 2014
2. Sam Watkins Marker
Marker is located under the Cedar Tree. Sam's grave is just to the right
edition with hand-written notes from his original copy.

"America has no North, no South, no East, no West. The sun rises over the hills and sets over the mountains, the compass just points up and down, and we can laugh now at the absurd notion of there being a north and a south. We are one and undivided."—Pvt. Sam R. Watkins, Co. H, 1st Tennessee Infantry

(sidebar)
Zion Presbyterian Church (built 1847-1849) serves Maury County's oldest active congregation. The adjoining cemetery contains more than 1,500 graves, including veterans of the Revolutionary, Mexican, and Civil War.

Captions:
Zion Presbyterian Church, 1936 - Tennessee State Library and Archives
Sam Watkins Courtesy Maury County Archives
Virginia M. Watkins Courtesy Maury County Archives

 
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 35° 35.909′ N, 87° 8.689′ W. Marker is near Columbia, Tennessee, in Maury County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Zion Road and Old Zion Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map.
Sam Watkins Tombstone image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Fletcher, November 29, 2014
3. Sam Watkins Tombstone
Marker is at or near this postal address: 2322 Zion Road, Columbia TN 38401, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Zion (approx. 1.1 miles away); Forrest and Capron (approx. 1.7 miles away); St. John's (approx. 1.7 miles away); Delaying Forrest (approx. 1.7 miles away); St. John's Episcopal Church (approx. 1.7 miles away); Rattle and Snap Plantation (approx. 2.3 miles away); Frierson Cemetery (approx. 3.4 miles away); Road to Nashville (approx. 3.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbia.
 
Categories. Cemeteries & Burial SitesChurches, Etc.War, US Civil
 
Sam Watkins image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Fletcher, November 29, 2014
4. Sam Watkins
Sam Watkins Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Fletcher, November 29, 2014
5. Sam Watkins Marker
Sam Watkins Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Fletcher, November 29, 2014
6. Sam Watkins Marker
Zion Presbyterian Church image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Fletcher, October 14, 2011
7. Zion Presbyterian Church
Sam Watkins Grave image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Fletcher, October 14, 2011
8. Sam Watkins Grave
Sam Watkins Grave Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Fletcher, October 14, 2011
9. Sam Watkins Grave Marker
Sam Watkins grave & marker image. Click for full size.
By Brandon Fletcher, October 14, 2011
10. Sam Watkins grave & marker
As you enter the main gates of the cemetery, turn left and head for the cedar tree to get to the marker and grave of Sam Watkins.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 16, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 21, 2015, by Brandon Fletcher of Chattanooga, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 305 times since then and 66 times this year. Last updated on July 23, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on July 21, 2015, by Brandon Fletcher of Chattanooga, Tennessee. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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