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A Southern Writer and the Civil War

The Confederate Imagination of William Gilmore Simms

Jeffery J. Rogers

Historians of the American Civil War have debated a wide range of questions raised by the war and its outcome. None have been more vigorously argued as those surrounding its outcome. One of the leading explanations for Confederate defeat has been the argument that the Civil War South lacked a national identity. Related to and supporting this argument is the contention that the Civil War South failed to produce a distinct and vibrant literary culture. These contentions have been challenged by a growing body of literature which argues that the Civil War South did produce a sense of cultural and national identity. This book adds to this counter current through an examination of the Civil War experiences and writings of the Antebellum South's leading literary figure. Surprisingly, given William Gilmore Simms' well-known status prior to the war, his life and work during the course of the war itself has been understudied. This examination reveals the depth and extent to which Simms not only supported the Confederate war effort but how Simms conceptualized and articulated a vision of Confederate nationalism. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 222Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4985-0201-6 • Hardback • February 2015 • $85.00 • (£54.95)
978-1-4985-0203-0 • Paperback • April 2017 • $42.99 • (£29.95)
978-1-4985-0202-3 • eBook • February 2015 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
Jeffrey J. Rogers is professor of history at Gordon State College.
Introduction: Simms, Nationalism, and the Civil War South
Chapter One: From Southern Sectionalist to Southern Nationalist
Chapter Two: Simms and the Formation of the Confederacy
Chapter Three: Embracing the Storm: Simms and the Revolution of 1861
Chapter Four: The War at Woodlands: Simms on the Southern Homefront
Chapter Five: Simms and the Literary Confederacy
Chapter Six: “Art Ready for Battle:” The Poetry of War
Chapter Seven: To the End
Chapter Eight: Conclusion: Simms and Confederate Nationalism
Rogers' work displays a remarkable knowledge of Simms sources and an appreciation for the historical debates that these sources can inform. Rogers has produced a finely researched and carefully crafted biography that forcefully demonstrates the significance of William Gilmore Simms to the study of the Civil War.
South Carolina Historical Magazine

Lexington Books is to be congratulated on publishing an excellent book by Professor Jeffery J. Rogers . . . [This book] is a fine contribution to the extensive writing during 2011 to 2015 in the United States on the Civil War. . . .One can only hope that the new book by Professor Rogers will be followed by more studies of Simms writings during the Civil War.
Center for Research on Geopolitics

Jeffery J. Rogers has compiled a thorough study on the literary, personal, and political contributions of William Gilmore Simms to South Carolina before, during, and after the Civil War... Not only does Rogers vibrantly explore the significance of this southern writer’s contribution to the war effort and its aftermath, but also how Simms’s vision and words centered on South Carolina during a tumultuous time in American history.
Arkansas Review

Rogers convincingly shows that Simms saw no contradiction in embracing both southern and American identities until his discontent with the Compromise of 1850 shifted his thinking.... Rogers is at his best when his analysis links the overtly southern sectional symbolism of Simm's literary works with his personal correspondence and editorial publications.... Rogers demonstrates that a closer reading of Simms and his work will reward historians and literary scholars, revealing an emotionally, intellectually, and culturally complex, and therefore inherently more human, portrait of William Gilmore Simms and Civil War-era southern society.
Journal of Southern History

Jeffery Rogers’ A Southern Writer and the Civil War: The Confederate Imagination of William Gilmore Simms is an essential addition to the study of Simms. The resurgence of critical interest in this fascinating author over the last two decades has been notably lacking in focus on Simms during the Civil War years. A recent collection of essays from the University of South Carolina Press to which Dr. Rogers contributed, William Gilmore Simms’s Unfinished Civil War, helped to fill this lacuna, but Rogers’ sustained monograph moves the story of Simms’s choices during the war years—and their consequences—toward completion.
Kevin Collins, Southwestern Oklahoma State University

A much-needed study of how the antebellum South’s most distinguished literary figure confronted the crisis of the Civil War—as a writer, as a man, as a fiercely proud South Carolinian, and as a sometimes aggrieved defender of the slaveholding regime. Rogers reveals more clearly than ever the frustrations as well as the triumphs of this leading literary architect of southern independence."
Paul Quigley, Virginia Tech University

In A Southern Writer and the Civil War, Jeffery J. Rogers cogently and carefully reexamines the life and writings of William Gilmore Simms, through the lens of politics and nationalism. In so doing he recasts Simms as a more than just an exemplar of Confederate literary culture, but as a deep political thinker whose Southern nationalism permeated his artistic works. Furthermore, Rogers reminds us that SImms did not just support the Confederacy, but survived it, and his discussion of wartime life on Woodlands Plantation is powerful and important. This is a book that any student of Confederate nationalism should read.
Anne Sarah Rubin, University of Maryland, Baltimore County