Every spring, two antique armies square off in a north Florida swamp. They’ve come with their replica rifles and blunted bayonets, their carefully-scuffed boots and new-grown beards, to re-enact the Battle of Natural Bridge, a late skirmish in the American Civil War. One side sports deep-blue tunics, approximations of those worn by United States troops in the 1860s. The other side’s coats are pigeon-grey, the colour of the Confederacy, the eleven Southern states so determined to preserve slavery that they divorced themselves from the Union in 1861.
Some of the uniforms are polyester, hired from fancy-dress shops. Others, especially among…
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