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Sherman’s crossing brought to life
By Natasha Whitling

Sherman’s Army Crossing the Saluda River by John Jones will be auctioned off February 17, at 7 pm at the Seibels House. Image courtesy of the GCCWA


Somewhere along the banks of the Saluda River a man sits down and carefully uses a pencil to sketch the scene before him. It is the job of this journalist traveling with Sherman’s troops to relay the events of the war in both words and drawings. On Thursday, February 16, 1865, he skillfully recreated Logan’s 15th Corps (part of Gen. Sherman’s army) march across the makeshift pontoon bridge and into the city of Columbia. The picture would be published that April in the Frank Willis Illustrated Newspaper.

Now that sketch by an unknown journalist has been brought to life in color by renowned local artist John Jones.

Jones, a native of Columbia, had already made his mark with his series of paintings based on illustrations on Confederate money. The collection was called The Color of Money and has been featured in over 400 newspapers and magazines and is currently on a 24–city national tour.

John Jones at the Rita Smith Art Gallery with one of his latest paintings of Private William Cathay. After the end of the Civil War, Congress created six all–black military units known as the Buffalo Soldiers. What made Private Cathay unique was that “he” was actually a “she,” Cathay Williams. She was discharged from the army after it was discovered she was a woman. Photo by Natasha Whitling


It was Jones’s acclaim for The Color of Money that led Frank Knapp of The Greater Columbia Civil War Alliance (GCCWA) to approach him about creating a special piece to be auctioned during the weekend–long event this month commemorating Civil War events in Columbia. It will culminate with “Columbia’s Longest Days: February 1865,” a commemoration of Gen. Sherman’s march to Columbia and the later burning of the city.

“The board chose John because of the quality of his work, his experience with performing similar projects, and his willingness to work with us,” Knapp said. Jones’s rich family history also played a part.

A descendent of slaves, Jones is motivated by keeping history alive, even if Sherman’s march on Columbia was not the most pleasant time for the city. “It did happen. It’s part of our history,” Jones said. “If we forget our history, we are doomed to repeat it.”

The original sketch that John Jones used to paint Sherman’s Army Crossing the Saluda River. Image courtesy of the GCCWA


Jones completed the acrylic painting, Sherman’s Army Crossing the Saluda River , in about two months using the original sketch as well as the ruins that are still standing in that location. He made several trips to view sections of the bridge abutments and the ruins of the Saluda Mill, now the Columbia Mill.

After looking through hundreds of sketches the GCCWA chose this one because it clearly conveyed action. “It also depicts two things that the public can still view today,” Knapp said.

The auction will take place February 17, at 7 pm during a reception at the Seibels House. The original painting will be auctioned off as well as #1–10 of 500 limited editions, signed and numbered prints that have been made of the painting.

Funds from the auction will be used for the operations of the GCCWA. For more information regarding the events contact Laura Johnson at 803-217-0071 or laura@knappagency.com.


If you prefer NOT to use electronic ordering, or to receive additional information, contact Gallery Chuma at 843.722.7568, Monday-Saturday 10AM-6PM Eastern or e-mail us at info@gallerychuma.com

Museum Exhibitions | John Jones biography | Press Reviews | Return to John Jones Gullah Art page

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