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05.05.13 Simms, William Gilmore, The Sack and Destruction of Columbia, published in 1865

Notes Concerning the Author.

William Gilmore Simms (1806-1870), a native of Charleston, SC, was more than just “the father of Southern literature.”  He was a prominent and prolific source in the whole of American letters, regardless of region.  Indeed Edgar Allan Poe called him the “best American novelist.”  In some sense Simms was the American Balzac, for like the great French author, a near contemporary, Simms incredible work ethic resulted in a prodigious output of works ranging over a number of settings in the South and beyond and delineating American life in its various social strata.  Unlike Balzac, Simms was an accomplished poet and frequent reviewer for a various number of prestigious nineteenth century literary journals.  He was also a historian, writing a history of South Carolina as well as a biography of Francis Marion.  He was not, however, an artiste staring down at society from a vaunted garret but an active participant in the life of his city and state, including serving two terms in the South Carolina legislature.  As valuable as his creative work is his non-fiction and his own correspondence are also highly regarded.  One piece of non-fiction, The Sack and Destruction of Columbia, details Sherman’s march through and wasting of South Carolina’s capital city, an event Simms witnessed firsthand and describes in close and shocking detail; his letters were gathered into five volumes in the 1950s with a supplementary volume appearing in 1982.  For years Simms’s reputation experienced a great lull but of late has been revived through the work of the William Gilmore Simms Society.


Here the noted author of fiction and non-fiction, William Gilmore Simms, who was in fact an eye witness to the horrors inflicted upon the people of Columbia, South Carolina by William Sherman’s Federals, tells you what happened like no other person could have done.  Go nowhere else.  Just read the account by William Gilmore Simms and live the destructive force of the Federals war against the civilians and property owners of the seceded States, as suffered by Columbians, all for the purpose of “Union” of “reuniting Americans,” so history tries to convince us.

Availability of this Book.

This harrowing account of Sherman’s so-called “March” through Columbia has been published in various editions through the years.  The most recent is an attractive book from The University of South Carolina Press, edited by Dr. David Aiken, with the prefix A City Laid to Waste, published in 2011.  Seek new books and reprints through