Confederates in the Attic Characters
The main characters in Confederates in the Attic include Tony Horwitz, Robert Lee Hodge, Alberta Martin, and Isaac Perski.
- Tony Horwitz is the book's author and the viewpoint character in the episodes he reports on.
- Robert Lee Hodge is an enthusiastic Civil War reenactor who guides Horwitz on a historically-grounded reenactment tour of numerous battlegrounds.
- Alberta Martin is the oldest living widow of a Confederate soldier, whose connection to the Confederate past is ambiguous.
- Isaac Perski is Horwitz's great-grandfather, a Russian immigrant whose lifelong fascination with Civil War History sparked Horwitz's interest in the topic.
Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 856
Tony Horwitz is the author of Confederates in the Attic and appears as a central figure and viewpoint character in each chapter. He travels to different Southern states to interview people to find out how they relate to the Confederacy and the legacy of the Civil War.
Horwitz describes the youthful origins of his fascination with the Civil War. His great-grandfather had owned and studied a cherished Civil War history text, which he shared with Horwitz. Horwitz’s father, in turn, pored over the ten-volume Photographic History of the Civil War. As a child, Horwitz painted a mural of Civil War scenes on the walls of his attic—presumably the origins of this book’s title.
As an adult, Horwitz took up the topic again after moving back to the United States and settling in a Virginia town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. One morning, Horwitz heard a troop of Civil War reenactors, including Robert Lee Hodge, parading outside his house. His curiosity was again piqued, and he began researching stories of how the Civil War continues to linger in American—and particularly Southern—culture.
Robert Lee Hodge
Robert Lee Hodge is a Civil War reenactor who is exceptionally committed to his passion. He organizes and participates in “hardcore” reenactments, in which actors dress in accurate (and often soiled and tattered) period clothing, subsist on historically accurate foods, and willingly endure the hardships of Civil War soldiers, such as cold weather and mosquitoes. Hodge is an ebullient personality who uses period-specific jargon and occasionally performs an act called “the bloat,” in which he mimics the bloated corpses seen in Civil War photographs.
Hodge is Horwtiz’s primary connection to the world of Civil War reenactments, and as such he is a central figure in chapters 1, 6, and 10. In chapter 10, he and Horwitz travel together on what Hodge calls a “Civil Wargasm,” a reenactment tour across numerous Civil War battlegrounds. A photographic portrait of Hodge, in which he poses in period garb, is featured on the cover of the first edition of Confederates in the Attic.
The time of Horwtiz’s research, Alberta Martin was, at 90-years-old, the oldest living widow of a Confederate soldier. Alberta is the central figure in chapter 13, in which Horwitz visits her in the town of Elba, Alabama. Horwitz depicts Alberta as polite, with a thick Alabaman accent and a penchant for telling long stories. When Alberta was twenty years old, already a widow and with a small child, she met William Jasper Martin, a neighbor and eighty-year-old widower. He could support the two of them with his Confederate soldier’s pension, and so they soon married and had a child. By Alberta’s account, William spoke little of his time in the Civil War. Horwitz’s subsequent research indicates that William could provide no information about his wartime experiences to the pension board, casting some doubt upon his service.
Isaac Perski is Horwitz’s great-grandfather, whom Horwitz referred to as “Poppa Isaac.” He moved to the United States from Russia in 1882. Among his first purchases in the US was a volume of Civil War illustrations. Horwitz recalls looking through the book with Perski when he was six and great-grandfather was 101. Perski had returned to that book throughout his life, nurturing an undying fascination for the Civil War that shook the nation to which he had immigrated.
Laura Jones is the president of the Legion’s Women’s Auxiliary in Vicksburg. She helps Horwitz understand the racial divide in the city and the effects it has.
James Connor is a 32-year-old man who recently separated from his wife. He meets Horwitz in Salisbury, and they explore the town together. Connor explains that he was nervous when he arrived in town because he did not see any other Black people. However, he says that people treat him well.
Ed and Sure Curtis
Ed and Sue Curtis are members of the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy who are planning an annual party for the Lee-Jackson birthday celebration.
Jamie Westendorff is a man whom Horwitz meets in a bar in Charleston, South Carolina. He explains that he is in favor of states’ rights and would also support city rights. He was an alligator wrestler, and his family lived in Charleston for five generations. One of his ancestors was a Confederate blockade runner.
Joe Gerache owns the Corner Drug Store in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He is a pharmacist, and he says that in his other life, he is a Civil War surgeon. He collects medical instruments and other Civil War memorabilia. He shows Horwitz some of the historical artifacts he has collected over the years.
Franklin Garrett is the leading historian of the city of Atlanta. He is eighty-nine years old and possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the city. The History Center in Atlanta hosts an annual trivia challenge in which contestants try to stump Garrett with difficult questions about Atlanta history. He usually wins. Garrett speaks with Horwitz about the way the city is changing and leaving the past behind.