A collection of essays exploring the effects of the Civil War
on writer and patriot, William Gilmore Simms
William Gilmore Simms's Unfinished Civil War measures
the effects of the Civil War and its aftermath
on one of the Old South's foremost intellectuals. Simms's
mid-nineteenth-century poems, novels, and essays and
the personal and societal trauma and destruction Simms
experienced are all portrayed here.
Before the war Simms was the most articulate advocate
of Southern nationalism. During the war he became a
prophetic critic of Confederate policy and poet of cultural
ethnogenesis. The defeat of the Confederacy in 1865 shattered
Simms's understanding of the working of history and
called into question his sense of a moral providence.
This collection of essays by historians and literary scholars
first explores William Gilmore Simms's antebellum
treatment of the role of warfare in America's past and the
South's future. The contributors then consider the impact
of the secession crisis, the Civil War, and the Confederate
defeat on Simms's and other white and black Southerners'
perceptions of their much-changed world. Next Simms's
life, published writings, and thoughts during the war and
its aftermath are examined. Finally Simms's late poetry and
fictions, especially explicit and implicit commentaries on
the postwar South, are analyzed. His last oration, The Sense
of the Beautiful, published shortly before his death in 1870,
is the subject of several essays.
William Gilmore Simms's Unfinished Civil War reconstructs from both published writings and
private letters the conscious and unconscious
effects of the Civil War upon the writer and
Southern patriot. Drawing on the fields of
history, literature, and even archaeology, this
interdisciplinary volume demonstrates that the
anticipation, course, and consequences of the
war were central in shaping Simms's writings
from the 1840s to 1870.
Former head of the South Carolina Historical
Society, the Southern Historical Collection, and
the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, David
Moltke-Hansen served as the founding director
of the digital William Gilmore Simms Initiatives
of the University of South Carolina.