During General Hood’s aggressive attack on General Sherman at Mossy Oaks, a Union counterattack broke the Confederate lines and sent them to the rear in disarray. this was the first time in the battle for and investment of Atlanta that one of its key outposts was threatened: the Hartfield-Jackson International Airport.

By 1864, close to 90% of Confederate aircraft running the Union air blockade went through Hartfield-Jackson, with the chance of incredible profits luring pilots despite mounting losses. When the Battle of Mossy Oaks spilled over into the airport, the airline attendants and ground crew armed themselves with Enfield muskets smuggled in from Heathrow to help reform the lines and repulse the Union thrust.

They succeeded, but the front line had moved close enough for Union artillery to begin a bombardment of the Hartfield-Jackson runways. General Sherman’s men did not have the special anti-fortification shells needed to inflict permanent damage on the masonry, so they were unable to blast the airfield into closure. Instead, the Union artillerymen began carefully timing volleys of explosive shot to land just as aircraft were making their final approach. This crude but effective tactic led to nearly 50% of the incoming and outgoing aircraft sustaining direct hits.

True to his nature, General Hood attempted two further attacks to dislodge General Sherman from his positions around the airport, bolstering his forces with the security guards and gate agents freed by the lack of incoming or outgoing traffic. Each attack, made against well-entrenched Union troops, brought devastating losses the Confederates could ill afford. After an attempt to impound the remaining aircraft and fly them into the Union lines failed for lack of volunteers, the airport was closed.

General Sherman’s troops finally took the Hartfield-Jackson International Airport three days before Hood was forced to evacuate the city. They faced a skeleton crew of Confederates who nevertheless made the Union troops pay dearly in blood for each step. Resistance was particularly heavy in the food court and Cinnabon, to the point that an exasperated Sherman ordered the area to be leveled by point-blank double canister fire. One of the cannons used in this operation (the “Cinnabomb”), which cleared the remaing Confederate defenders in a matter of twenty minutes, is still on display at the airport today.

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“Welcome to the lecture on civil war resources. I know you are all anxious to get started, but there are a few ground rules to go over first. First, there is a lot of debate over whether civil conflicts are caused by peoples who are opposed in ethnic, religious, or other societal affiliations, or because of economic self-interest for the individuals or groups who might start them, from either a capitalist or Marxist viewpoint? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. So long as you can gather a base of support from which to gather supporters, it doesn’t matter if said base is ethnic, religious, social, or economic.Organization is important. Using a cell-based structure, with communication by intermediaries only, is essential to keeping your nascent civil war from being crushed; it also prevents the capture of a single cell or individual from collapsing the entire war. Arming your troops is also important, as I’m assuming that most of you will not be fighting on the government side in these civil wars! Ambushing transports and raiding lightly-guarded arms depots are the best means of securing large number of military-grade weapons…”

“Um…sir?”

“Yes, what is it?”

“I thought this lecture was about finding historical resources on the, you know, actual Civil War. In America.”

“What? Why would anyone do that? That Civil War is over and done with! It’s yesterday’s news! It’s far more relevant and contemporary to start your own civil war, as I’m sure you’ll agree.”

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“Captain” Fitz McHugh strode through the wreckage of the Union column, surrounded by burning wagons, dead men, and panicked horses. His “command” of raiders had already fallen out to plunder food and arms from the well-supplied Yankees, but McHugh had other notions.

He approached the standard-bearer, the last invader still alive. The man wore an officer’s uniform; he may even have been the commander, shot in the gut while trying to save the colors.

“What…how…?” the man mumbled.

“There’s something you Yankees didn’t reckon on,” said McHugh cocking his big, brass-framed Griswold & Gunnison 1860 Revolver. “This ain’t your Kansas. It’s Arkansas.”

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“Fire, fire!” Seconds ago, it had been an order from the lieutenant, impatient with his men’s slow reloading of their muskets as the discipline of drill broke down under heavy Rebel fire.

Now it was a frenzied warning.

The snarls and brambles of the Wilderness of Spotsylvania had been bad enough when they were merely preventing maneuver, but sparks from Warren’s artillery battery had caught the underbrush on fire. As the Union men and the Rebels struggled hand to hand with rifle butt and bayonet, the surroundings had been transformed into a maelstrom of crackling sheets of flame. The cries of the wounded rose in pitch to frenzied shrieks as they were burned to death.

Amos Callahan had broken and run under the strain, as had many of his fellows in the 27th Michigan, and many of the Rebels. He morale had been utterly broken when he had witnessed a sergeant, bleeding from a gut shot and immobile on the dry spring grass, press his rifle to his throat and thumb the trigger rather than face a screaming death amid the flames. It had been close enough to fleck Amos with gore, and he snapped under the sensory assault. He had a wife, after all, and had only held their little Andrew once since his birth.

But he had stopped dead. Among the cries from the wounded men about to be engulfed, Amos heard a familiar voice: Nathan. Nathan of the homestead next door, Nathan of the desk behind his in the schoolhouse, Nathan of the fast carriage rides around town courting young ladies. They had enlisted together, bivouacked together, and now they were about to die separately.

There was only a moment to act, to make the decision to flee or stay rooted stock-still in mute horror…or to act. Amos chose to act.

“Take my gun, Nate!” Amos cried. The heavy rifled musket that he had been about to cast away instead became a lifeline; Nathan, wounded in the knee, was able to grasp and hold onto the proffered aid. As fire swirled around them in a holocaust, consuming Federal and Rebel alike and rent by the cracks of Minié balls and cannonades, Amos dragged his best friend to safety. There were embers all over them, and Amos felt his eyebrows singed off by the heat, but it didn’t matter.

“You could have left me there to die, Amos,” Nathan sobbed amidst the inferno. “Thanks for coming back for me.”

“The fire was so hot,” Amos murmured. “I didn’t know what to do…I barely had time to think…”

“What’s he talking about?” said the nurse, who had come in to change Amos’s dressings. She switched on the electric light overhead and peered at the old man’s pallid features.

“Dad lost his best friend from school in the war,” said Andrew, sadly stroking his long grey beard. “At the Wilderness with Grant, he burned to death when the battlefield caught fire. Dad says he never really left that field; I think he…goes back there sometimes, when things are really bad.”

“I wonder why he would return to someplace so painful,” the nurse said with a concerned look.”

“I’ve no idea,” said Andrew. “But when a man is on his deathbed, I suppose he’s apt to go where he’ll go.

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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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“They were desperate. No shipyard still in their hands had the ability to lay down a vessel to Clarnaird’s design, and there was no ironworks or machine shop to tool the necessary parts. Overseas construction was the only choice.”

Paula removed another logbook from its shelf and added it to the cart. “So you’re looking for details about the ship, then,” she said. “It would really help me gather materials from the archive if you were more forthcoming, Mr. Hayes.”

“I have all the details about the ship that I need, right down to the original blueprints,” Hayes snapped. “Found in a Virginia barn. No, I need information on the shipyard, specifically when the ironclad CSS Clarnaird was launched and when it departed for the States.”

“They surely would have given that information when they arrived,” said Paula.

“That’s just the thing, Ms. Weatherby–it didn’t.”

There was no question of who was to blame: Thompson has said it himself, in blood-red oil paint wired to his neighbors’ fence. Gilvery had done it—or, rather, had driven Thompson to. That much was plain as day.

The real wrinkle was that no one knew who Gilvery was, or what they could possibly have done to provoke such a response.

That morning found Vincent Gaines strolling down Main Street in Porthaven, hands in pockets and a satisfied grin on his face.

“Congratulations, Mr. Comissioner of Schools,” called Sam Joliet, Porthaven’s premier greengrocer, from his storefront. “I voted for you, so I knew you’d win.”

“Thanks, Sam,” said Vincent. “I can’t say I’m too happy myself, though. Whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth. Unless that’s the rutabagas I bought from you yesterday, that is.”

“If the rutabaga leaves a sour taste in your mouth, it’s just doing its job,” Joliet laughed. “No, I mean Thompson. Run into him?”

Vincent sighed. “I’m not sure I want to see him. You saw the posters that he put up?”

“Which ones? The ones that accused you of being an anarchist, or the ones that said you’d spawned a mulatto bastard in Port au Prince?”

“You don’t understand me,” Brown cried. “This city’s about to fall! She’ll be killed if she stays! I’m just trying to do my job!”

The bartender sighed. “Listen to me, Marine. Perhaps you are right; perhaps when the rebels come they will kill Ms. Anne. But perhaps not. Perhaps the rebel at the very front of the column was a schoolmate of hers. Perhaps the soldiers that burst in here know her from playing in the streets. She grew up here, and cannot believe the land would allow any harm to come.”

“But…”

“I have survived several coups, Marine. I will survive this one as well. The men are always thirsty. They are thirsty for other things as well, and if Ms. Anne wishes to wait, to see her old school friends’ faces when the men come for her, who are you to deny her? Go. Ms. Anne does not want to leave, and I will shoot you if you try and take her.”