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Thomas Y. Cartwright to portray Civil War soldier Sam Watkins; Musician Michael Holloway to accompany at Franklin Theatre, Nov. 28

Thomas Y. Cartwright and Michael Holloway

The Heritage Foundation Executive Director Mary Pearce announces Civil War historian Thomas Y. Cartwright will portray Confederate Civil Ear soldier Sam Watkins at The Franklin Theatre Wednesday, Nov. 28 with a portion of the proceeds benefiting The Heritage Foundation. Tickets are now on sale.

In making the announcement, Pearce said, “We’re ecstatic to have Thomas Cartwright take the stage at The Franklin Theatre to share with us his depiction of one of the most memorable soldiers of the Civil War and who wrote ‘Co. Aytch,’ a riveting recount of his life during the war. This date was chosen because it is two days prior to the 148th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin held Nov. 30, 1864, which is significant to our rich history.”

As a young boy, Cartwright read “Co. Aytch” and was so enthralled with it, he committed the book to memory. During the past 20 years, Cartwright has performed and portrayed Sam Watkins in numerous one-man performances throughout the country.  Now, for the first time, he’ll premiere his performance on stage with Holloway’s captivating music.

Cartwright, in conjunction with the Lotz House Civil War museum, has teamed with long-time music performer and entertainer Michael Holloway to take what Watkins began to write after the war, and what Cartwright memorized as a child, into the 21st century. Holloway wrote and will perform all original music to enhance the experience of the two-hour portrayal. Halloway calls his music on the new CD “American music, by an American artist for an American story.”

Pearce added, “Thomas’ incredible ability to quote Sam Watkins off the top of his head is amazing and transcending. We’re excited to have this moving performance to share because it will leave everyone who hears it with the feeling they’ve heard Watkins’ story told first hand. Michael’s original music puts a huge exclamation point on the performance as it leads our imagination back to the 1860s.”

Robert Hicks, author of New York Times bestseller “The Widow of the South” said, "Thomas Cartwright has partnered up with Michael Holloway to give us Sam Watkins’ Co. Aytch and what a gift it will be. For those of us who have loved ol' Sam and his Co. Aytch, this is long overdue. For those who have never read Co. Aytch, it is the best introduction I can think of." 

Hicks added, "In Sam's own words, Cartwright movingly retells the story of Sam's adventures in the service of the South. It is hard to imagine anyone that Sam would have rather had retell his story. Added to all of this is the wonderful music that Michael Holloway wrote and performed in accompaniment to Sam's words. Cartwright and Holloway have hit this one out of the park.  This performance is a must for anyone who loves the rich history of the American Civil War."

Sam Watkins, originally from Maury County, served throughout the entire four-year war despite being wounded several times. Of the 120 men who enlisted in “Company H” in 1861, Watkins was one of the few still in the ranks when the Confederate Army of Tennessee surrendered in April, 1865. After the war ended, Watkins began writing his memoir titled “Co. Aytch.”

Watkins’ work today is recognized around the world and often used for teaching purposes. “Co. Aytch” is called by many historians one of the best Civil War memoirs written by a common soldier in the field.  Clearly, Watkins engaging writing style captures the pride of the Civil War soldier.

Thomas Y. Cartwright is known as one of the leading authorities on the Civil War and the Battle of Franklin. He frequently appears on various documentaries for the History Channel, A&E, Travel Channel, CNN, Discovery, and Preservation Channel. For many years, he has lectured throughout most of the United States for Civil War Round Tables, corporations, preservation groups and heritage organizations. In addition, Cartwright authored several published articles and essays. He is currently authoring two books and he conducts battlefield walking tours of the Battle of Franklin from the Lotz House. Holloway has a long and storied musical career. Growing up in Mississippi and the Mississippi Delta, his exposure to music came early, accompanying his father to blues jams with other workers in the pulp wood business.

Playing left-handed, Holloway learned the guitar on his own, playing his father's instrument upside down. In fact, the legendary Gibson Guitar even created a left-handed Dobro especially for Holloway to play. He has released two albums including “Blues Travel Fast” and “Riding This Train” which includes a cut called Feast or Famine with duet partner Gretchen Wilson. He’s toured the country as well as Europe and opened for such acts as BB King, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter and Little Feat.

The doors open at 6 p.m. and the performance begins at 7 p.m. with a brief intermission.  Tickets are $35 and $50 are available at or at The Franklin Theatre box office 615-538-2076. After expenses, half of the proceeds benefit The Heritage Foundation earmarked for the Carter Cotton Park. 

The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving our historic resources in Franklin and Williamson County, Tennessee. Among our programs are the award-winning Main Street Program, the Downtown Franklin Association, which promotes and revitalizes the 150 unique places to explore in the 15-block downtown National Register District.

Posted on: 10/31/2012


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