This image is the cover for the book Hearts Torn Asunder

Hearts Torn Asunder

“This study goes beyond the military aspects to examine the psychological and emotional impacts on the participants, both military and civilian.” —Charles R. Knight, author of From Arlington to Appomattox

One day after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865, more than 120,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were still in the field bringing war with them as they moved across North Carolina’s verdant heartland. Thousands of paroled Rebels, desperate, distraught, and destitute, added to the chaos by streaming into the state from Virginia. Grief-stricken civilians, struggling to survive in a collapsing world, were caught in the middle. The collision of these groups formed a perfect storm long ignored by those wielding pens.

Hearts Torn Asunder explores the psychological experience of these soldiers and civilians during the chaotic closing weeks of the war. Their letters, diaries, and accounts reveal just how deeply the killing, suffering, and loss had hurt and impacted these people by the spring of 1865. Dollar deftly recounts the experiences of men, women, and children who endured intense emotional, physical, and moral stress during the war’s dramatic climax. Their emotional, irrational, and often uncontrollable reactions mirror symptoms associated with trauma victims today, all of which combined to shape memory of the war’s end. Once the armies left North Carolina after the surrender, their stories faded with each passing year. Neither side looked back and believed there was much that was honorable to celebrate. Hearts Torn Asunder recounts at a very personal level what happened during those closing days that made a memory so painful that few wanted to celebrate, but none could forget.

Ernest A. Dollar

Ernest A. Dollar Jr., a native of Durham, North Carolina, graduated from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro with B.A. in History, a B.F.A. in Design in 1993, and M.A. in Public History from North Carolina State in 2006. He served in the U.S. Army Reserve/North Carolina National Guard from 1993–1999. Ernest has worked in several historic parks in both North and South Carolina, including as executive director of the Orange County Historical Museum, Preservation Chapel Hill. He currently serves as the director of the City of Raleigh Museum and Dr. M. T. Pope House Museum. He lives in Durham with his wife, Suzie, and their sons Elijah and Kilby.

Savas Beatie