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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Field Desk of Captain John G. Kayser, 12th Missouri Infantry Volunteers

ca. 1862-1865
MHM Collection

In late 1861, John G. Kayser, a German immigrant, was commissioned a first lieutenant in the 12th Missouri Infantry and received a promotion to captain less than a year later in October 1862. The following July, he became the Commissary of Subsistence. This desk would have helped Kayser in organizing the mountains of paperwork—requisition forms, orders, and receipts—necessary to ensure that proper supplies of food were distributed to military posts. Kayser purchased the field desk, originally painted blue and red, from Warne, Cheever, and Company in St. Louis. The firm also sold liquor chests, camp chests, and other supplies to soldiers.