Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Eutaw

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1856

            Eutaw, published by Redfield on 19 April 1856, is the sequel to The Forayers, and the penultimate romance in Simms's Revolutionary War saga[1].  It completes the story of the British withdrawal from their outpost at Ninety-Six, including the battle of Eutaw Springs, the last major engagement of the Carolina theatre, and its aftermath.  Simms’s biographer John Caldwell Guilds notes that it is necessary to understand Eutaw as a sequel, as it was “not a new venture but the extension and completion of a scheme which kept expanding in the author's fertile imagination.”[2]  Simms's longstanding effort to present the southern, and particularly South Carolina, experience of the Revolutionary War was thus near its completion.  Eutaw showed the author at one of his brightest moments; recognizing the great success and power of this novel and its predecessor, and afraid that Simms would produce weaker novels after Eutaw, the author's friend James Henry Hammond advised Simms to “cease to write novels.  You can't better these last & may never again do so well.”[3]

             Though lacking Hammond's pointed advice, the critical reception of Eutaw was equally favorable and laudatory.  Reviewers especially praised Simms's nuanced and robust presentation of two of his most memorable characters, Ellen “Harricane Nell” Floyd and Hell-Fire Dick.  Hell-Fire Dick’s development was especially impressive, as he was changed from a fairly flat character in The Forayers to someone much more complex and intriguing.  Guilds notes that, in Simms’s presentation of Dick in Eutaw, the author had developed a sympathetic and compelling character, presenting "the curious intermixture of good and evil in a hardened criminal who from birth had been harshly denied almost all of life's privileges."[4]  Keen Butterworth and James Everett Kibler's William Gilmore Simms:  A Reference Guide reveals similar sentiments on the part of the national press:  the July 1856 edition of Godey's positively reviews Eutaw, remarking particularly that in his presentation of Nell and Dick, “our author has exhibited a spirit and skill that can scarcely fail to make him among the best of American novelists.”[5]

             Like its predecessor, the strength of this novel is made all the more impressive by Simms's heavy workload during its composition.  An April 1856 letter to Evert Augustus Duycknick reveals that, during the writing of Eutaw, Simms had been on a lecture tour throughout South Carolina and Georgia.[6]  In a letter to Benson John Lossing a month later, the author explained his reasons for the lecture tour during such a busy time in his life:  the tour was due to a need on his part to get out, to get away "from the desk." Yet, within this need, there was a recognition that the monetary demands placed on him by his large family and longstanding financial troubles made simple leisure travel something not available to him[7]. Rather, he needed to be paid for his travels.  This evidences, perhaps, that no matter how well received and favorably viewed Simms anticipated Eutaw to be, he recognized its sales could not totally alleviate his regular and acute awareness of the precarious and anxious financial situation he found himself in throughout his life.

             The editors of Simms's Letters state that Redfield published a second edition of Eutaw in 1858.[8]  However, the 1976 Revolutionary War Novels edition, published for the University of South Carolina's Southern Studies Program, plainly states that this romance “was many times reprinted...without revision or correction by the author.”[9]  Thus, it seems appropriate to regard the 1858 Redfield as a second printing, rather than truly a second edition.  All subsequent printings of Eutaw are based on the original 1856 Redfield edition.

             The cover of the 1856 edition features green boards and spine.   Front and back have flat double border box stamping inside flat triple border box stamping.  Spine features gilt stamped:  EUTAW | [rule] | SIMMS | [rule] | [Graphic of flag, rifle, haversack, drum, and book] | [double rule] | REDFIELD  The title page is as follows:  EUTAW | A SEQUEL TO | THE FORAYERS, OR THE RAID OF THE DOG-DAYS | A TALE OF THE REVOLUTION | BY W. GILMORE SIMMS, ESQ. | AUTHOR OF ''THE  PARITSAN'' — ''MELLICHAMPE'' — ''KATHARINE WALTON'' — | ''THE FORAYERS'' — ''THE SCOUT'' — ''WOODCRAFT'' — ''CHARLEMONT,'' ETC. | ''The southern wind | Doth play the trumpet to his purposes; | And, by the hollow whistling in the leaves, | Foretell a tempest.''  SHAKESPERE. | [Circle formed of snake biting its own tail with burning lamp in the center] | REDFIELD |34 BEEKMAN STREET, NEW YORK | 1856

 W. Matthew J. Simmons



[1] Eutaw is the seventh of eight revolutionary romances if we examine the internal chronology of the books themselves.  It was also the seventh of the eight books written, with Jocelyn, which presents the earliest action in the series, published in 1867.

[2]  John Caldwell Guilds, Simms: A Literary Life (Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 1992), 225.

[3] See Letters, 3:425.

[4] Guilds, Simms, 227.

[5] Keen Butterworth and James E. Kibler, Jr., William Gilmore Simms: A Reference Guide (Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1980), 105.  See item 14 for this particular comment.

[6] See Letters, 3:424.

[7] Simms reminds Lossing that he is “one who has had losses,” recalling his constant anxieties over his personal and financial life (Letters, 3:434).

[8] Ibid., 3:430n.

[9] See page xv of the prefatory material for the Revolutionary War Novels edition of Eutaw, published in 1976 by The Reprint Company of Spartanburg, SC.

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