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 17

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Page 17

Secondary Scholarship | 2007
Transcription desperate work here, in not too many weeks distant. It becomes us, then, as
intelligent men, to face the music like sensible men, and address ourselves
immediately to the momentous before us. Life, law, liberty, property,
honor all are at stake all are at this moment in imminent peril if assailed,
and are sadly exposed.
What is our present condition? It is well, in times of hilarity and Fourth of
July speeches, to talk in a general way of this State's being able to bring into
the field 50,000 men, and whipping the Yankees two to one, that is, 100,000
men, &c., &c. It makes some men feel more comfortable'and happy to talk,
and to believe in this sort of buncomb. What are the facts? The militia of this
State are at this moment utterly disorganized. Throughout the whole State it
is so. In Charleston alone there are hundreds, almost thousands, who have
hitherto done no military service whatever in this great and desperate
contest. Young and able bodied men, who, at this very time, have no
expectation of performing any such duty. Men in military and in private
stations, alike, do not seem in any way to realize their actual condition. Yet
never was there an occasion more desperately pressing, or a people more
unprepared to meet it. And it is to ourselves we have to look for our security.
The State. of South Carolina should, at this time, be one vast camp in its
organization and preparedness. Every man in this State, capable of bearing
aims, should, ere this, have been enrolled in some definite, organized
military body. And it should be seen that that body is exercised and so
instructed as to be of service in the field. A mere rabble is a nuisance in any
camp, consuming the means of the State, and demoralizing better troops,
both in camp and upon the field of battle. Organization and instruction are
absolutely essential. We have not a week, not a day too much for the
purpose. Every hour's delay will be paid for in loss of life and security, and
corresponding accumulation of misery and suffering.
What is the condition of our defensive works? Are they adequate to foil
an invading force of thirty or forty thousand men, in armed men-of-war and
iron-clad gun-boats? We put the question frankly to the people and the
authorities of the State, in no fault-finding or carping temper. For, in our
judgment, unless the Northern forces are driven out of Washington before
frost, it is a moral certainty that just such an attack will inevitably be made
upon the coast of South Carolina. Let no man deceive himself with the
supposition that the United States Government will be in the least want of
men. They will promptly get all the men they want. Men must eat. The day
laborers of the North are all white men. They live from hand to mouth.
Except in the manufacture of alms of various sorts, they are all thrown out of
employment. They must live. They are in want of bread. It is offered them
by the Government, when they can get it no where else. They will accept the
terms, by tens of thousands. Let there be no misconceptions on this point
no false expectations. Money, too, they will get, by fair or by foul means, by