Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Pocota-ligo council house

*Pocota-ligo council house. Meeting house in the town occupied by the Yemassee Indian tribe and the primary setting for fierce internal tribal conflict, as tribal leader Sanutee leads his people in a revolt against their own chiefs in order to forestall further treaties with the Carolinians and instigate a rebellion. European settlers named the town Pokitellico.


Blockhouse. Edifice built for the purposes of defense and one of several Carolinian forts. It is besieged by a Yemassee war band, accompanied by English pirate Richard Chorley. Thus, it is one of the primary settings for armed conflict between the low-country Carolinians and their Yemassee neighbors. The besieged blockhouse also offers one of the novel’s most pronounced explorations of gender roles when a broken ladder separates the women and children in the upstairs section from the men in the downstairs section, and Granger’s wife, described approvingly as almost masculine in her capacity for decisive action, is forced to defend the women and children trapped upstairs.

Pirate ship

Pirate ship. Vessel belonging to the English pirate Chorley. At first merely mysterious, the ship becomes the visible symbol of the Spanish threat to the Carolina settlement, as well as Chorley’s own threat to Bess Matthews, as it moves up and down the Pocota-ligo River.

Carolinian cabins...

(The entire section is 577 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Cowie, Alexander. Introduction to The Yemassee, by William Gilmore Simms. New York: American Book Company, 1937. Summarizes Simms’s life and literary career and relates The Yemassee to general characteristics of his fiction and literary theory. Contains a contemporary news account of the 1715 Yemassee uprising.

Ridgely, J. V. William Gilmore Simms. New York: Twayne, 1962. This critical biography discusses theme and setting of Simms’s works and argues that Simms’s own preface to The Yemassee forgives historical inaccuracies by claiming the writer’s license “to weave the facts of history into a wholly fictional main plot.”

Rubin, Louis O., Jr. “The Romance of the Colonial Frontier: Simms, Cooper, the Indians, and the Wilderness.” In American Letters and the Historical Consciousness, edited by J. Gerald Kennedy and Daniel Mark Fogel. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987. Discusses the genre of frontier romance and evaluates Simms’s portrayal of Native Americans.

Trent, William P. William Gilmore Simms. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1892. This early critical biography discusses the writing, publication history, and critical reception of The Yemassee. Finds the white characters weak, but praises Simms’s portrayal of Native Americans, calling Matiwan “the loveliest and purest Indian that I have met with in fiction.” Claims chapter twenty-five (Matiwan’s rescue of Occonestoga) is as great as the best of James Fenimore Cooper or Charles Brockden Brown.

Wimsatt, Mary Ann. The Major Fiction of William Gilmore Simms: Cultural Traditions and Literary Form. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989. Discusses the backgrounds and traditions of the romance genre (influenced by Sir Walter Scott) that Simms used for his long fiction.