Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 15: No 2) >> History reprinted >> Page 37

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 37

Reviews/Essays | 2007
Transcription History Reprinted

1844 biography of Swamp Fox reissued,
author William G. Simms a regional legend

TIM HICKS
Managing Editor

Barnwell County residents can get to know William Gilmore Simms again through his original claim to fame--his writings.
Simms was in his time a prominent literary figure on a national scale to the extent Edgar Allen Poe declared Simms second only to James Fenimore Cooper as a novelist.
Simms had many ties to Barnwell COunty in his time.
Simms' 1844 biography, "The Life of Francis Marion, the True Story of South Carolina's Swamp Fox," was re-released this month by the Charleston-based publihsing firm The History Press.
Marion was a famous South Carolinian whose exploits in guerilla warfare against the Biritsh buring the American Revolution earned him the nickname "Swamp FOx." The main chatacter of the 2000 movie "The Patriot," starring Mel Gibson, is based loosely on Marion.
Simms' book has been reprinted dor to the impetus of Dr. Seam Busick, a history professor ar Athens State University in Athens, Ala. Busick has been studying Simms for more than 10 years when he was a gracuate student research assistant at the University of South Carolina helping with a Simms project.
"His biography of Marion was one of the ebst-selling book in its day," Busick said during a June 29 telephone interview from his Alabama home.
Busick wrote the introduction to Simms' re-released book, which needed a little editing, he said.
"We presented it like he wrote it--it will be a faithful rendition of his work," he said.
Yet Simms as an author was as popular to his contemporary, James Fenimore Cooper. Also Simms was one of the teo most dominate fgiures from South carolina, the other being John Calhoun, Busick said.
"Simms is largely forgotten outside of South Carolina," he said. People in Barnwell may not realize he was a national figure--even an international figure--several of his books were translated into German."
And how does a 21st century historian rank the works of a 19th century one?
"He is remarkable good," Busick said. "He is a central figure in historical studeis of his era.""Based on the evidence he has available--he did quite well," he said.
"The Life of Francis Marion" is being reissued as the University of South Carolina celebrates the arrival of a Marion historical artifact.
The December 1778 muster roll of Marion's men from the 2nd South Carolina Regiment was donated to USC June 28.
"Marion is a relatively neglected figure too. 'The Patriot' brought interest to him," Busick said.
Busick said Simms' book on Marion is the "best history Simms wrote" and one of his favorites of Simms' work, he said.
"I've been pushing History Press to reprint it for several years. This is something I lobbied long and har for many years," Busick said.