In my opinion, a major Civil War "reissue" has occurred and with surprisingly little fanfare. That being the reissue of Sam Watkin's cornerstone classic Co. "Aytch:" First Tennessee Regiment, or, A Sideshow of the Big Show in an expanded edition. If you saw Ken Burns' The Civil War TV mini-series, then you know of Watkins, for his memoir of serving as a Confederate foot soldier was quoted at length. According to the publisher, "The classic Co. Aytch has reigned as one of the most memorable and honest depictions of the American Civil War since its original publication in 1882. Sam R. Watkins's first-hand account of life as a Confederate soldier eloquently captured the realities of war, the humor and pathos of soldiering, and the tragic, historic events in which he participated. Although there have been dozens of versions of Co. Aytch published, this is the first with new material and revisions by Sam Watkins himself. Intending to republish after his first edition sold out, Watkins edited and revised Co. Aytch adding a new perspective that only came with time. He died before accomplishing his goal. Now more than one hundred years later, Watkins's great granddaughter, Ruth Hill Fulton McAllister is fulfilling Watkins s dream. Using his yellowed, aged, and pencil-marked copy handed down through different family members, McAllister has crafted a masterpiece that combines the ageless text with Sam Watkins's intended revisions.
This new edition incorporates actual images of Watkins's handwritten additions, all his desired editorial changes, and more than forty images. Desiring to be true to both her ancestor's wishes and the sanctity of his classic memoir, McAllister skillfully included Watkins's additions and artfully indicated what he would have omitted, leaving the original text intact. The result is a rich, expanded, director's cut version of Co. Aytch, sure to fascinate historians, Civil War enthusiasts, and new readers alike."
Serious book collectors will know that this newly revised and expanded edition also earns the bibliographic designation of "First Edition Thus." Unless you're one of the blessed few who own one of Sam's original firsts, this is now the edition to have on the shelf. I'm usually not one for predictions, but in this case, I'll venture that this first printing will only rise in value over the coming years. With bookshelf space at a premium, my hardcover reprint of the original book will soon be gone in order to make way for this collectible edition. Hat tip to J. D. Petruzzi for alerting me to this via his blog.