Discussion Civil War era field desks.

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
How many Civil War field desks survived the Civil War? It would seem like many officers would have kept their field desks after the war. However, field desks are fairly large and some descendants may have not wanted to keep them. Weapons are probably considered better keepsakes for descendants.

Next question: Did most officers have field desks? I am not sure most lieutenants would have needed one. In fact perhaps only more senior officers had a real need for a field desk.
 

Yankee Brooke

First Sergeant
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Jun 8, 2018
Location
PA
Generally only more senior officers would have had a true field desk. Company grade officers generally had no need for a desk most of the time. Battalion grade and up might have had at least something, even if only a small portable table or a propped up ammo box. Generals would likely have actual desks, because they're generals and they can. Staff probably would too, regardless of rank.
 

A. Roy

Sergeant Major
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Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
I've become fascinated by portable field desks and writing kits. I'd love to own something like this, as it is a fairly compact item and I live in a small place -- might not be too hard to fit one in here. I've seen many examples for sale of sloped lap desks, but the ones I like are more of a vertical cabinet with a fold-down front that reveals a rack of drawers and cubby-holes. These seem hard to find -- I've even thought about making a reproduction myself, being something of a jackleg carpenter...

ARB
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
How many Civil War field desks survived the Civil War? It would seem like many officers would have kept their field desks after the war. However, field desks are fairly large and some descendants may have not wanted to keep them. Weapons are probably considered better keepsakes for descendants.

Next question: Did most officers have field desks? I am not sure most lieutenants would have needed one. In fact perhaps only more senior officers had a real need for a field desk.
I can remember seeing a statistic that fewer than 10% of Union soldiers decided to keep their weapons at the end of the war. They would have been deducted from their pay along with any accouterments that were not returned. I seem to think it was in the OR when I was looking for info on the number of loaded weapons found after Gettysburg. Regardless, it would then seem that Bannerman's was the winner and that is where the majority of descendants guns actually came from. Later on Bannerman sold these weapons for mere dollars. I know it hurts, but many guns handed down in a family may not be the actual gun that their ancestor had in the field, though the weapon may have been in the field with someone else.

Regarding field desks, since they had high utility value and were not issued, but private purchase, I would imagine that many went back home, to collect dust or to keep up with civilian correspondence.
 

A. Roy

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
Although not a desk, I did obtain this fold-up writing kit not too long ago. I figure it could be Civil War era, but could also be late 19th or early 20th century. It's small (about 9"x5"), made of paperboard, laminated possibly with a thin leather. The best clue to its age might be the clasp and key. There is a not-too-clear photo of something like this in Francis Lord's "Civil War Collector's Encyclopedia," but I can't tell if it's the same thing.

Video31_WritingKit.jpg


The kit folds out and has a number of pockets that might have held note cards or forms. It also has a built-in ink-bottle case.

Video13_WritingKit.jpg


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Roy B.
 

Jack7171

Private
Joined
Feb 28, 2021
Until I get a bigger space to set up my collection a bit more professionally,,my field desk makes a pretty good temporary display for relics until I get more room to display stuff, and then I can set up the desk properly, with things that would be in/on it instead of random clutter.
20210623_234553.jpg
 

Seduzal

Major
Retired Moderator
Joined
Jun 19, 2013
Location
Canton, North Carolina
Until I get a bigger space to set up my collection a bit more professionally,,my field desk makes a pretty good temporary display for relics until I get more room to display stuff, and then I can set up the desk properly, with things that would be in/on it instead of random clutter.View attachment 405742



It looks like an awesome collection to me! Thanks for sharing.
 

vmicraig

Sergeant
Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Location
Mobile, AL
One of our modest forum members owns and operates Logan Creek Designs in Abingdon, VA and is a master artisan when it comes to replicating the field desks and war chests of famous Civil War Generals. "Joe" became associated with the VMI Museum and Col. Keith Gibson, the Director, quite accidentally after asking permission to photograph Stonewall Jackson's field desk, on exhibit at VMI, for the purpose of reproducing one for himself. Col. Gibson was so impressed by Joe's prototype that he arranged to make reproductions available to alumni as a benefit to the museum. The Jackson field desk replicates the exact desk provided to Jackson by VMI while he taught there and was quite logically the one Jackson took with him to the field when called away for war in April, 1861. The original field desk still remains on display at the VMI cadet museum beneath Jackson memorial Hall.

Back in the early 90's, Joe crafted a beautiful, signed and numbered Stonewall Jackson Desk with matching table and chair for me as a wedding gift from my wonderful wife at the time. Number 87, matching my VMI class year, of course. It is a treasure that will be handed down to my son and perhaps his, too. Pictures alone don't do it justice!

IMG_0167.JPG


IMG_0168.JPG
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
One of our modest forum members owns and operates Logan Creek Designs in Abingdon, VA and is a master artisan when it comes to replicating the field desks and war chests of famous Civil War Generals. "Joe" became associated with the VMI Museum and Col. Keith Gibson, the Director, quite accidentally after asking permission to photograph Stonewall Jackson's field desk, on exhibit at VMI, for the purpose of reproducing one for himself. Col. Gibson was so impressed by Joe's prototype that he arranged to make reproductions available to alumni as a benefit to the museum. The Jackson field desk replicates the exact desk provided to Jackson by VMI while he taught there and was quite logically the one Jackson took with him to the field when called away for war in April, 1861. The original field desk still remains on display at the VMI cadet museum beneath Jackson memorial Hall.

Back in the early 90's, Joe crafted a beautiful, signed and numbered Stonewall Jackson Desk with matching table and chair for me as a wedding gift from my wonderful wife at the time. Number 87, matching my VMI class year, of course. It is a treasure that will be handed down to my son and perhaps his, too. Pictures alone don't do it justice!

View attachment 405767

View attachment 405768
That is beautiful!
 

A. Roy

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
Back in the early 90's, Joe crafted a beautiful, signed and numbered Stonewall Jackson Desk with matching table and chair for me as a wedding gift from my wonderful wife at the time. Number 87, matching my VMI class year, of course. It is a treasure that will be handed down to my son and perhaps his, too. Pictures alone don't do it justice!

What a beautiful piece -- thanks for sharing these photos!

ARB
 
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