Thanks to the generosity of a kind donor, the Foundation has acquired a new piece for the refurnishing of Fielding Lewis’s office. It is a campaign or “camp” desk, probably made in Maryland and dating to approximately 1775. The desk was originally owned at Myrtle Grove, the early 18th century seat of the Goldsborough family in Talbot County, Maryland.
A campaign desk was specifically intended for mobility – it could be moved anywhere someone wanted or needed a desk, whether inside or out. It is basically a box that unfolds to reveal a writing surface and various cubby holes and drawers for organizing documents and desk accessories. The box is fitted with handles on the outside, so that it can easily be carried form one place to another. The whole thing rests on a stand, or set of legs that also could be easily folded up and moved as necessary. Such pieces were commonly found in military camps, among the living quarters of officers like George Washington, who had a variety of mobile furnishings for his campaign tent during the Revolution. Among the gentry, like the Lewis and Goldsborough families, a campaign desk could be used in a plantation office and also be moved out to the fields when on-site supervision was required.
Since we have no listing of furnishings for Fielding’s office, we are basing its refurnishing on research and interpretation. This campaign desk provides us with the opportunity to show visitors an unusual furniture form, but it also helps to illustrate the room’s use as a working office, where Fielding spent many hours over his ledgers, ships’ manifests and farm reports. This was not a room intended to be seen by the social elite, and so the furnishings were simple and useful.
Make a visit to Kenmore soon, and see the campaign desk, newly installed in the Office!