Robert E. Lee Camp Chest Provenance
The Robert E. Lee Camp Chest resides now in the Museum of the Confederacy, 1201 East Clay Street, Richmond, Virginia, but it hasn’t always been there. According to the 1898 “Catalogue of the Confederate Museum,” the Camp Chest , containing camp equipment used by General R. E. Lee was presented by Miss Mildred Lee, youngest daughter of the late General. The original is of “pine plank construction with iron latch and metal hinges; dark in color: 15 ¾” high, 30” wide and 15 ½” long.” The chest was “used by General Robert E. Lee” and the “donor was a member of the 17th Virginia Infantry Regiment.”
Like its weary owner, General Robert E. Lee, the field chest came home war-worn, but mostly unscathed from battle. Lee found life on the home front quite different than in prewar times. The family silver, buried as protection from marauders, was now retrieved from hiding, but found to be a greenish brown color, and somewhat “moldy.” Perhaps the silver served as a metaphor for the changes the war had brought to the Lee family, to Virginia, and to the South. Shining aristocracy had given way to the dullness of daily life tarnished by years of war. As the Lee family gathered at a meal for which there were not sufficient utensils, one of Lee’s sons recalled the field chest and the mess kit and eating implements were retrieved from it. Now a grown man himself, this son knew well the contents of the chest, used daily by the general. Perhaps he had examined and touched each item, imagining the places it had been—peaceful pastures now blood stained and hallowed. Many heroes likely sat upon this very chest, shared a meal with the general, planned strategy for an upcoming battle, or simply spoke of the comforts of home. For many of those heroes, “going home” would be only in the eternal sense.
We picture Lee’s descendants gathered around the chest allowing their imaginations to carry them from battle to battle with the great General. We are privileged to have the same opportunity today at Logan Creek Designs where the past meets the present. Begin your journey with General Lee as once the field chest began its journey into history. Then, as the original traveled home with the heroic general, now travel to your home with a piece of history. Let the journey begin!