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Description 
Field desk: rectangular shaped wooden box; dovetail joining in corners; wooden lid with two steel hinges and steel hasp; steel reinforcement bars on corners; pull-out metal rod stored in bottom right corner which was used to prop up desk writing/working surface; interior lift-out lid; removable compartments/pigeon holes inside for the storage of documents; steel recessed handles on each side; painted French blue on wood surfaces and black on all metal parts; yellow overpaint removed by conservator (May 1997) to expose original blue paint: interior stenciled: Warne Cheever & Co./ 125 North 4th St./ St. Louis/ Manufacturers/ IRWINS PATENT/ DEC 17th 1861; exterior stenciled: Co. H 21st. MO. VOL; metal latch stamped: STANLEY WORKS/ 6. All documents and photographs found in the desk are housed in the archives. This field desk was purchased of Warne, Cheever, & Co., in St. Louis, Missouri on April 2, 1864 by Captain Charles W. Tracey, Company H, 21st Missouri Volunteer Infantry. The purchase price of the desk was $12.00. Tracey mustered out at the end of his term of service in 1865 and the command of the company devolved to Captain James Smith. Smith would have been the last authorized person to have responsibility for the desk when the regiment mustered out at Fort Morgan, Alabama on April 19, 1866. James Smith is responsible for the archival collection and photographs relating to Company H, 21st Missouri Infantry, and field desk. He enlisted as a private in Company H, 21st Missouri on September 1, 1861 in Keokuk, Iowa. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant June 12, 1862, 1st Lieutenant March 14, 1865 and Captain on July 18, 1865. He mustered out of the regiment at Fort Morgan, Alabama on April 19, 1866. When he enlisted he listed his occupation as "Soldier" (he had seen prior service in Company E, 1st Iowa Infantry, 3 months regiment) and his residence as Wisconsin. He was born in Schoharie County, New York on October 3, 1841. His parents, David and Lodema Smith had migrated west from New York and were living near Ripon. They both died in 1857. His brother, Alvin McCune Smith [private, Company H, 18th Wisconsin, captured at Shiloh and killed May 22, 1863 at Vicksburg], and sister, Emma Smith Soule, were also living near Ripon. At the time of his enlistment, Smith was single, 20 years old, 5' 7" in height, with brown hair, blue eyes, and light complexion. Captain James Smith was the last commander of Company H, 21st Missouri Infantry. He returned to Wisconsin and worked as a farm hand in 1866. On April 9, 1867 he married Hattie Clark, the sixteen year old daughter of his employer. On September 15, Smith left her in search of work and never returned. Affidavits in her pension file state that he either died in the Black Hills of Dakota territory or in Colorado. Correspondence from his brother-in-law, Frank Walker, states that he developed cancer and committed suicide. According to his grave stone, Smith died on March 20, 1877 and is buried at Loper Cemetery on Douglas street, north of Ripon, in Grave 1, Lot 35, Section Northeast.
Desk, Portable -THE CIVIL WAR -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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Last modified on: December 12, 2009