The Forayers


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Historical novelist William Gilmore Simms first published The Forayers in 1855 at the peak of his reputation and ability. Simms had set out to create a prose epic through a series of linked novels detailing American history and struggles from early colonization to the mid-nineteenth century. The Forayers, which was the sixth book in his series of eight Revolutionary War novels set in the South, describes events around Orangeburg, South Carolina, before the Battle of Eutaw Springs (itself covered in this novel’s sequel, Eutaw). It features such characters as Hell-fire Dick, a hardhearted, foul-mouthed looter under Tory protection. Simms hoped his readers would find this book “a bold, brave, masculine story; frank, ardent, vigorous; faithful to humanity.” He described it to a friend as “fresh and original” and wrote that “the characterization [is] as truthful as forcible. It is at once a novel of society & a romance.”

David W. Newton is a noted Simms scholar and a professor of English at the State University of West Georgia.


John Caldwell Guilds is Distinguished Professor in Humanities at the University of Arkansas. He has published extensively on Simms and has served as the editor of many of his works.

“It is cause for rejoicing that another volume—Forayers is the eighth—is now added to the University of Arkansas Press’s distinguished series. I cannot imagine a more important editorial and publishing project in the field of nineteenth-century literature. With good texts available for the first time in a century or more, it is possible for critics, scholars, students, and general readers to study, understand, and re-evaluate this most neglected and underrated of American writers.”

—James B. Meriwether, McClintock Emeritus Professor of Southern Letters, University of South Carolina


“. . . Full of striking adventures racily narrated. For conveying vivid pictures of the war in the south, during the Revolutionary struggles, the series of volumes to which this work belongs, may be said to be unmatched in our literature.”

Graham’s, January 1856


“The best novelist which this country has, on the whole, produced.”

—Edgar Allan Poe, Broadway Journal, September 20, 1845

The University of Arkansas Press edition of the Selected Fiction of William Gilmore Simms has as its aim to publish the major novels and short fiction in reliable texts, together with scholarly introductions, annotations, and other matter useful to scholars, critics, and teachers of Simms’s work. Though not full-dress editions in the strictest sense, the volumes of the Arkansas Simms follow the conventions of scholarly editing by reprinting the last edition revised by Simms during his lifetime. Orthography, capitalization, and word division follow nineteenth-century practices, with no effort to modernize spelling or punctuation. Earlier volumes in the series have included both an introduction by Professor John C. Guilds, now the general editor emeritus, and a historical note and afterword by the editor of that particular volume. In the recent volumes the introduction, historical note, and afterword will be combined into a single introduction prepared by the volume editor.