George Washington's Camp Chest

Description
Armies on campaign must carry with them much besides their weapons. At the time of the American Revolutionary War (1776-1781), various boxes and chests transported soldier's individual effects, wardrobes, official military payrolls, and other necessities. Camp chests or canteens as they were called in the 18th century, carried utensils and cooking apparatus to be used by officers and their staff when in the field during campaigns.
George Washington's well-appointed personal camp chest, or "mess kit," enabled him to dine in a manner reflecting his position as commander of the Continental Army. Two sets of leather covered canteens, or camp chests, were bought by General Washington, on May 3, 1776. Another set of "canteens" captured on a British prize ship were sent for Washington's use in October 1778. By 1782, General Washington's camp equipage which included canteens, tents, tables, traveling beds, and various other field equipment, was so extensive that he had to request that two horses, "natural pacers," be selected by the Quartermaster General, Timothy Pickering, just to carry the General's camp chests.
We do not know which of the several camp chests belonging to Washington is in our collections; however, this example is complete with all original utensils. It contains tin plates and platters, tin pots with detachable wooden handles, glass containers for condiments such as salt, pepper, and sugar, as well as knives and forks with dyed black ivory handles. The chest also contains a tinder box, candle stand, and folding gridiron.
Object Name
mess kit
camp chest
Date made
1775-1776
user
Washington, George
Physical Description
green (overall color)
cloth (overall material)
leather (overall material)
brass (overall material)
iron (overall material)
wood (overall material)
tin (plates and platters material)
glass (containers material)
Measurements
overall: 10 3/4 in x 21 1/4 in x 14 in; 27.305 cm x 53.975 cm x 35.56 cm
used
United States
ID Number
AF*016111
accession number
13152
catalog number
016111
accession number
013152
subject
Food
Military
event
American Revolution
Revolution and the New Nation
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
Exhibition
Price of Freedom
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

7/18/2013 2:47:32 PM
sammy
i think this chest is awsome! i love these objects about george washington. i want to learn about him in 6th grade.
Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Approved comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about your own artifacts or tell you how much they are worth.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.