“Two weeks after the Civil War ended, N. J. Bell, a railroad conductor, enjoyed a layover in Wilmington, North Carolina. A small boy and a little girl who lived on the edge of the railyard came up to him asking for something to eat. He gave them whatever bread and meat they could carry away. The children were very thankful. Their father had been killed during the war, and both their mother and grandmother were sick. Bell returned to Wilmington two months later. Lounging in the railyard, he inquired about the fate of the boy and girl. He learned that their mother had died and the children had starved to death.”
— From “America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation” by David Goldfield (2011)
“America Aflame” receives smashing praise in tomorrow’s New York Times Book Review, and I’ll soon be posting a Q-and-A with its author, who teaches history at UNC Charlotte.