Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Page 40

Scholarship | 1996
Transcription out desk, which was turned into a wet-bar. In the words of Simms Oliphant Jr.,
"Simms's rosy cheeks would have no doubt been rosier" at the end of such a
convivial gathering. (J.E.K.)


Clear evidence for one reason why Simms has been struck from the American
literary canon appears in Major George Ward Nichols' The Story of the Great
March (New York: Harper, 1865). Nichols was aide-de-camp to General William
Tecumseh Sherman when the General burned both Simms's "Woodlands" and the
city of Columbia. Nichols writes:
Columbia will have better cause to remember the visit of Sherman's
army.... Not in this generation nor the next—no, not for a century--can this
city or the state recover from the deadly blow which has taken its life....
The feet of 100,000 abolitionists have pressed heavily upon their sacred
soil, and their spirit is broken. I know that thousands of South Carolina's
sons are in the Army of the Rebellion; but she has already lost her best
blood there. Those who remain have no homes. The Hamptons,
Barnwells, Simmses, Rhetts, Singletons, Prestons, have no homes. The
ancient homesteads where were gathered sacred associations, the heritages
of many generations, are swept away. When first these men became traitors
they lost honor; today they have no local habitations; in the glorious future
of this country they will have no name.
Nichols here predicts that Simms, who has lost his home, by his "traitorous" stand,
will also have his name expunged from history. The quotation is clear proof that
Sherman and his minions were intent on Southern cultural genocide, and Simms, as
a spokesman and symbol for the South, was named as a prime target therein.
Nichols also describes the Army's encampment at "Woodlands" on 12
February 1865 in rather sinister fashion:
Tonight we are encamped upon the place of one of South Carolina's most
high-blooded chivalry—one of those persons who believe himself to have
been brought into the world to rule over his fellow creatures, a sort of
Grand Pasha and all that sort of thing. How the negro pioneers are making
away with the evergreens and rose-bushes of his artistically arranged walks,
flower-beds, and drives! These black men in blue are making brooms of
his pet shrubs, with which they clear the grounds in front of the tents.