Hodge Backmaker lives in a United States in which the South won the Civil War, and the Northern states are backward, poor and agrarian, exploited by the powerful and prosperous South. Hodge, a historian specialising in the War of Independence, has the chance to travel back in time.  He chooses to visit the decisive Battle of Gettysburg, but despite his efforts to be merely a spectator, he is discovered – with devastating results.