The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

III. Poets of the Civil War II.

§ 6. Charleston and Its Poets; Simms.

If New Orleans may lay claim to the first popular melodies, it was natural that from Charleston should come the first notable expression in verse of the South’s feeling with regard to the war. Aside from the fact that this city was the meeting place of the convention which proclaimed the secession of South Carolina, aside from the fact, too, that the first incident of the war was connected with Fort Sumter, Charleston, at the outbreak of the war, was the one Southern city that might have been considered a literary centre. Here for many years Simms, 5  as the editor of many magazines and as a prolific romancer, had made his brave fight for literary independence, and here he had gathered about him in his later years a group of young men, two of whom especially were to respond as poets to the call of the new nation. He himself was now an old man, moving among his friends “like a Titan maimed.” As the struggle tightened about Charleston in the later years of the war, he wrote some fiery appeals against the besieging foe, but there is in his verse excitement rather than inspiration, heat rather than light.   6

Note 5. See also Book II, Chap. VII. [ back ]