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 19

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Page 19

Secondary Scholarship | 2007
Transcription and the expulsion of the last Federal soldier from her borders, roused
Northern contempt into dire hate, and surrounded the signal of the present
It cannot be supposed that these facts are either forgotten, forgiven or
ignored. It would be most unreasonable to conclude that the present calm
augured no coming stonn, and even if our own inactivity had lulled us into a
false sense of security, the reiterated warnings of our foes are neither to be
mistaken nor despised. South Carolina must be punished. Her coast must be
ravaged. Charleston must be destroyed. The insolent pride of the Palmetto
must be humbled. She has held the poison chalice to Northern lips, and must
be made to drain its bitterest dregs.
The first blast that crimsons our October woods and opens to alien ingress
our fever-haunted swamps, will waft a fleet into one of the numerous
estuaries that indent our long-drawn coast, and precipitate an armed host on
our feebly-guarded shores. Our very position invites, and our circumstances
apparently secure, an easy conquest. The base of the equilateral triangle
which our state forms, is washed by the ocean and penetrated by more than
one harbor of safe and easy access. Our low country is proverbially wealthy,
teams with rich harvests, and swarms with slave property. The population, at
best scanty, has been already somewhat thinned by the demands of the war
on the frontier. A sparsely settled country, with but few railroads, and
intersected by ' lofty mountain ranges and swift rivers, separates us, in
measure, from the speedy assistance of neighbors; while our metropolis lies
within short striking *distance from the seaboard, and may be swiftly
approached on either side of the harbor, without exposing an assailant to the
almost certain destruction which an attempt to force it would, if properly
guarded, involve.
These are facts, and the grave considerations they invite will not be
lightened nor dissipated by idle hopes or apathy. It is useless to talk about
the wise reticence or the unwise freedom of the press. Our enemies are not to
be scared by grimaces or summersaults, nor to be kept ignorant of our
whereabouts by hiding like an ostrich. If South Carolina hopes to keep soil
inviolate it must be through the wise energy and strong arms of her children.
We know that we are a brave and resolute people, trained to a high sense of
personal honor, and steeped through and through with a lofty State pride.
Our heroic past will brook no tarnish, as it can safely smile at detraction. Our
men, in the language of Simms, are "born on horseback with the rifle in their
hands," and the foe that wins our city will wear a prize too dearly bought for
triumph. Still, we cannot be insensible to the superior preparations and odds
that may be brought against us, and for this it behooves us to prepare with all
the activity and foresight we possess.