The Civil War in Missouri

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The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.

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Eating Utensils of Captain John Downey, 3rd Missouri Infantry Volunteers

MHM Collections

John Downey, an Irish carpenter and builder working in partnership with the firm of Downey & Thornberry prior to the war, enlisted with the 19th Missouri Infantry Volunteers, which later merged with the 3rd Missouri. The regiment fought at Pea Ridge and Helena, Arkansas, Arkansas Post, and nearly all of the engagements of the Vicksburg Campaign, Missionary Ridge, Ringgold Gap, and Lookout Mountain. Downey was wounded in Vicksburg and went home to St. Louis to recuperate. Once he recovered, he returned to his unit in the field but fell ill and again returned home to regain his health.After the war, Downey was unable to continue his previous job as carpenter and builder because of the wound and illness he suffered during the war. He was appointed street commissioner in April 1865, but died the following year. This knife and fork set are personal items that are believed to have been carried by Downey during the war. The ends of the utensils have compartments for holding condiments or spices, but the silver cap is missing from the fork.