Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 7: No 1) >> The Sense of Place in The Partisan >> Page 17

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Page 17

Secondary Scholarship | 1999
Transcription consciously wants his readers to appreciate what Sandlappers did to bring victory
to the Partisan cause. He makes historically accurate note of the fact that the
continental army did little to help Southern states topple British rule. He
dramatizes the fact that Loyalist forces in South Carolina were a constant threat.
More importantly, he asks readers to recognize that South Carolina's terrain and
size made fighting a heavy, costly burden. He hints also through the character of
Goggle, that the allegiance of Indians to the British brought danger and death to
Partisans on the western frontiers.
These factors are there for the attentive reader to consider, for Simms
wishes to have South Carolina's place in the annals of the War for Independence a
proud one. They are muted, to be sure, and could be overlooked by readers more
interested in romance, local color, lively characters, and battle clashes than
politics. Yet, I would argue that Simms in The Partisan none too quietly voices a
stance that he would declaim eloquently and vociferously in his two-part essay in
the Southern Quarterly Review entitled "South Carolina in the Revolution," an
essay which followed the publication of Lorenzo Sabine's declaration that he
found no evidence supporting the claim that the state's devotion to the revolution
was " superior [to that in] most of the states of the confederacy."
It is as a Southerner and South Carolinian that Simms frames his response
to Sabine, who, as Simms says, indulges that New England tendency. "to regard
her children as saints, to whom the possession of the earth has been finally
decreed, that it is, perhaps not a thing to be wondered at, that the inheritors of s
goodly a faith and fortune, should naturally assume that they are the proprietors of
all the good deeds that are done within its bounds. They have all the virtues, and
perform all the achievements" (SQR, July 1848, 45).
Simms sets about defending his native place in American history by
examining closely what South Carolinians, with a little help from soldiers from
North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia, did to defend Charleston. He draws not
only upon the work of a northern-born Charleston historian, David Ramsay, but
also upon the journals, memoirs, and letters of soldiers actively involved in
defending and attacking Charleston: William Moultrie, General Macintosh,
Major Habersham, Col. John Laurens, Lt. Col. Tarleton, and M. de Brahm.
Through extracts from these sources, he paints a picture, with occasional
commentary, of Charleston's efforts to fend off the combined forces of the British
Army and Navy and Loyalists working from within Charleston to bring the city to
its knees. He leaves it to readers of these extracts to judge how Charleston stood