Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 15: No 1) >> The Pen as Sword: Simms and the Beginning of the War — Rediscovered Writings from 1861 >> Page 8

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Secondary Scholarship | 2007
Transcription convinced that his plans would have prevented the Union success at Port
Royal but, as he told Hammond's son a few days earlier, "Nobody

listened."19
The editorials on Confederate tariff policy and the defense of the South

Carolina coast were known to the editors of the Letters. In the Charles
Carroll Simms Collection at the South Carolinian Library, however, are
unsigned editorials cut from the Charleston Mercury which were probably
written by Simms and are not mentioned by the editors of the Simms letters.
A careful perusal of the Mercury from 1861 also reveals several additional
articles and editorials which were probably written by Simms. Simms
himself gives indication that he wrote more for the Mercury than those
discussed above. For example, writing to James Lawson on 19 February

1861 Simms said, "I have been writing every night for six weeks, till 3 in th
morning, on public affairs, for the Mercury or for some of the Secretaries."20
Thus, Simms was probably constantly writing contributions for the Mercury
from the beginning of the year into the fall. Definitive identification is
difficult but probable Simms contributions include an editorial titled "Our
Military Strength and Weakness" which appeared in the 9 January 1 861
issue of the Mercury. By this time Major Robert Anderson had removed his
command from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter and the author of the article
discusses the political environment at that moment and the military situation
prevailing in Charleston Harbor and urges preparation for conflict. The text

contains several clues that point to Simms as its author. General Winfield

Scott is singled out as being in control of the government in Washington.
Indeed, Scott did exert a strong influence in James., Buchanan's
administration during its last days. The editorial begins: "War is imminent.
Gen. Scott has control of the United States Government. War is his trade
and war is now his council. The sword is his arbiter, and to the sword he now
looks."21 Writing to Miles four days after the publication of the editorial

Simms asserted this same opinion of Scott when discussing the likelihood of
war when he said, "There is no telling, however, what may be done when the
power is under the hands of a weak administration, counseled & governed, in
fact, by a person whose whole training has endowed with military ideas as

paramount to all. "22 This was a clear reference to Scott.

Other probable Simms contributions to the Mercury are "Fort Sumter the

Bastion of the Federal Union" which was published on 21 January, 1861,
and "Military Allegiance" published on 22 January 1861. The first of these in

a firm statement that South Carolina alone must evict Anderson and his
command from Fort Sumter. Failure to do so would signal the state's


19 Letters, IV, 382.
20 Letters, IV, 327.
21 Charleston Mercury, 9 January 1861.
22 Letters, IV, 319.

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