Flanked by the local brass band and banners proudly promoting Republic Days ’13, Commissioner Reynolds stepped up to the microphone on the Republic Park dais.

“Welcome, everyone, to Republic Days 2013!” he cried. “You know, our fair town and county has paid a terrible price for our loyalty to the Union during the Civil War. Harassment by the Home Guard, brother against brother violence, and of course the postwar era when the state capitol deliberately withheld state aid and funding. But as I look at all these smiling faces in front of me, as I recall the success of the last ten Republic Days festivals, and as I consider the strong economic growth of the past decades…I think our forefathers would agree it was all worth it!”

He was met by cheers from the assembled crowd.

“Without further ado, I ask that you turn your attention to the field to your right,” Reynolds continued. “Some of our fine Civil War reenactors have a presentation they’d like you to see.”

Three men in anachronistic blue uniforms from circa 1885 stood on the green clutching trapdoor Springfield 1873 rifles. A further three approached from the direction of the Republic Tree, wearing grey uniforms with kepis and braided sleeves of the sort that the Confederates had never been able to afford for their most elite troops, much less the ramshackle Home Guard.

“We’re looking for Col. Winston,” the lead “Confederate” demanded. “The Confederate Home Guard demands that his men disarm themselves, submit themselves to the rule of Richmond and President Davis, and provide the Confederate Army the conscripted men she is due!”

The lead reenactor, “Winston,” hefted his rifle. “We the people of Crittenden County have resolved to have no part of this wicked conflict,” he intoned. “It has been forced on us by the rich plantation owners to be fought by the poor who own no slaves, like us. We in Crittenden county have declared ourselves the sovereign Republic of Crittenden until such time as the rightful Union authority can be reestablished, and will brook no interference from the so-called Confederates.” His lines, delivered in a clear strong voice, were wildly applauded by the crowd.

The lead “Confederate,” wearing the red-rimmed uniform of an artilleryman despite brandishing a carbine-length musket, sneered. “Strong words from a man married to a negro,” he hissed, carefully pronouncing the latter bowdlerization so the crowd would have no doubt that he hadn’t used the much more offensive term any real Confederate would have. “The Home Guard will take from the so-called Republic of Crittenden by force what is owed it by rights.”

Blank gunfire erupted from both sides; when the black powder smoke cleared, the three “Confederates” were sprawled on the ground.

From the stands, Ms. Hanna Maurer watched the pageantry with rheumy eyes. It was all very well and good, she thought, to see the town so proud of its past.

Pity it was all based on a lie.

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