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 26

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Page 26

Secondary Scholarship | 2007
Transcription works. will prove. the stronger, if you can accord to the struggle five hours,
instead of five minutes. All our counsels, with regard to the subject of our
coast defenses, had this very point of view. It. was for this reason that we
urged the public authorities, and entreated private citizens, especially the
contiguous planters, to cut down their forests, construct temporary cheveaux
de fries, closing up the channels, and planting floating batteries behind them,
supporting the land batteries on either side, while covered, in turn, by them.
We feel that we have spoken and prophesied with the fate of Cassandra
speaking the truth, in warning, with nobody to listen!
Not to linger, we ask, are you quite sure that Forts Moultrie and Sumter
will suffice to arrest a fleet of thirty steamers, pressing forward, on a flood
tide, with full head of steam? If there were but four or five, the question
might be answered easily, and perhaps, gratefully. But, with thirty assailants,
the aim of your gunners will be diverted and distracted. You may sink half a
dozen of them, but some will pass; and, if they get into Cooper or Ashley
River, where are your defenses? The city is at their mercy! It may be, that
they will .not be able to get out again. But who shall say that? And, in the
meantime, they can shell it! We counseled, months ago, that we should sink
no old hulks in our channels, but build new and solid cheveaux de fries, of
ranking timber, well bolted together, so as to withstand, for a long season,
the perpetual friction of the tides. Something, we learn, had been done, in
respect to this subject; but we have been so frequently from authority led
to assure our readers that the coast was in a good state of defense, that we
grow restive, and demand that the defense be made doubly sure. We have
lost one hand in the game; let us lose no more. And we now entreat, that our
planters along the coast will not delay one moment, in the patriotic sacrifice
of all their cotton to the flames. Better to bum it, than suffer the Yankees to
find a British market for it.
We have written much of this article in great sadness of spirit; for we see
how much might have been prevented, of disaster, had the matter been taken
up in time. It is not too late to repair it; and, probably, this very disaster at
Beaufort, which-we now bemoan, will be of great service to us. It will goad
the sluggish into activity. It will awaken, also, the enthusiasm of the State.
We shall have the support of our sister States; and our enemies, believing
that we have exhausted our resources, in raising the army for Virginia, will
find, to their cost, that we can meet them with a sufficient force to drive their
cutthroats into the sea. Let us be doing! We need few strategies ! Only.let the
enemy land, and let our boys get at them; and if they do not make short work
of it, we are very much deceived in the breed and blood of the South. To
concentrate our best possible strength, and strike a blow as soon as we can, is
our best social and military policy.