Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War
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When prize-winning war correspondent Tony Horwitz leaves the battlefields of Bosnia and the Middle East for a peaceful corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he thinks he's put war zones behind him. But awakened one morning by the crackle of musket fire, Horwitz starts filing front-line dispatches again this time from a war close to home, and to his own heart.
Propelled by his boyhood passion for the Civil War, Horwitz embarks on a search for places and people still held in thrall by America's greatest conflict. The result is an adventure into the soul of the unvanquished South, where the ghosts of the Lost Cause are resurrected through ritual and remembrance.
In Virginia, Horwitz joins a band of 'hardcore' reenactors who crash-diet to achieve the hollow-eyed look of starved Confederates; in Kentucky, he witnesses Klan rallies and calls for race war sparked by the killing of a white man who brandishes a rebel flag; at Andersonville, he finds that the prison's commander, executed as a war criminal, is now exalted as a martyr and hero; and in the book's climax, Horwitz takes a marathon trek from Antietam to Gettysburg to Appomattox in the company of Robert Lee Hodge, an eccentric pilgrim who dubs their odyssey the 'Civil Wargasm.'
Written with Horwitz's signature blend of humor, history, and hard-nosed journalism, Confederates in the Attic brings alive old battlefields and new ones 'classrooms, courts, country bars' where the past and the present collide, often in explosive ways. Poignant and picaresque, haunting and hilarious, it speaks to anyone who has ever felt drawn to the mythic South and to the dark romance of the Civil War.
it. Now there’s a hundred fifty-five duplexes going in.” I realized he was talking about the old Fitzgerald house, and tried to explain what Herb Bridges had just told me. Cooper turned and glanced at his modest house. “Lived my whole damned life in Tara and never even knowed it.” He shrugged. “My wife’s crazy about all that Gone With the Wind stuff. But it just don’t flip my boat.” His eyes narrowed. “’Less there’s money in it.” “What’s it selling for?” I asked. He thought a moment and said,
city sharply divided along race and class lines, I’d gone to work after college as a union organizer in rural Mississippi, urging impoverished loggers, most of whom were black, to go on strike and confront their white bosses. I’d burned out after eighteen months, but clung nostalgically ever since to this one bright flare of youthful idealism. Williams, I felt sure, would put a different spin on my Mississippi sojourn. He’d say I behaved like sanctimonious abolitionists and 1960s Freedom Riders
said, “so there’s still a lot of unexploded stuff lying under the ground.” Hawke, it turned out, specialized in such half-hidden remnants of the Civil War. As part of his park duties, he tramped through the woods around Corinth, searching for earthen defenses thrown up by the Confederates. Hawke had even founded the “Civil War Fortification Study Group,” which met annually to discuss new research on earthworks. The prosaic nature of the subject appealed to Hawke’s modest nature. “We tend always
and peace,” he said. “In reenactments, North and South get along, they work together. And look at all the people who dress as civilians. Maybe if we played at war more instead of really using weapons, our world would be a better place.” He laughed. “Of course, it is possible my thesis is nonsense.” We walked toward the last stop on Wolfgang’s tour, the National Cemetery, where Union dead were moved after the War from their original burial trenches. It was now late afternoon and the monuments
countless prints and paintings that once adorned the homes of many Southern whites. “We’ll do all the art and mythology stuff tomorrow in Richmond,” Rob said. Today’s lesson was anatomy. So we drove on, stalking Stonewall’s arm. Probably no limb in history was so heavily signposted. We passed an historical marker by the road titled “Wounding of Jackson” and another labeled “Jackson’s Amputation.” After Jackson’s wounding, litter-bearers carried him off the field under heavy fire, twice spilling