Missing War Department Tablets

Here’s my rundown of the missing tablets from the War Department series for Antietam Battlefield. The first five listed are from the lettered series. Four of the listed 29 are uploaded to the database, with reference numbers supplied (hence my tally yesterday of 25 “missing” tablets).

Tablet # Title Location HMDB ref Number Notes
C 1st Corps Camp North Woods N/A
E Union Line of Battle North Woods N/A Down for maintenance.
G 1st Corps, 1st Div, 2nd Bde North Woods N/A
L 1st Corps, 2nd and 3rd Div Unknown N/A Suspect location Hwy 65 North.
N 2nd and 10th US Inf East Woods N/A Location disputed.
13 Doubleday’s Division (Sept 16) Hwy 65 North N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.29.
18 Morell’s Division (Sept 16) Hwy 34 East N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.34.
22 Sykes’ Division (Sept 15-16) Hwy 34 East N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.33.
23 5th Corps, Artilery Reserve Hwy 34 East N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.36.
82 3rd US Inf (Sept 16) Hwy 34 East N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.35.
98 Bty K, 1st US Sunken Road N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.131.
115 II Corps (Sept 15-16) Hwy 34 East N/A
314 Jackson’s Command Dunker Church

6909

Down for maintenance.
325 Anderson’s Bde (Sept 16) Hwy 34 East N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.41.
333 DH Hill’s Div, Jackson Piper Farm N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.135.
334 Jones’ Bde West Woods N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.94.
335 Winder’s Bde West Woods N/A Down for maintenance.
338 Rodes Bde, Hill’s Div Sunken Road N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.136.
344 Andersons Div, Longstreet Piper Farm N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.137.
350 Pender’s Bde Harpers F. Rd N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.181.
373 Toombs’ Bde, Jones’ Div Branch Ave. N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.173.
380 Sunder’s Artillery Battalion Piper Farm N/A Missing: Large & Swisher, p.139.
C.P.6 Slocum’s Division Crampton’s Gp N/A
C.P.6C Slocum’s Division (cont.) Crampton’s Gp N/A
C.P.7 Smith’s Division Crampton’s Gp N/A
C.P.7C Smith’s Division (cont.) Crampton’s Gp N/A
B.F.2 Boteler’s Ford Shepherdstown

1959

Missing: Large & Swisher, p.192.
B.F.4 Barnes’ Brigade Shepherdstown

1960

Missing: Large & Swisher, p.193.
B.F.5 118th Pennsylvania Shepherdstown

1961

Missing: Large & Swisher, p.194.

My personal standard for uploading a “missing” tablet or marker is:

  1. The location of the object is known based on references (in this case I’ve used two references for baselines – Battle of Antietam: The Official History by the Antietam Battlefield Board, by George R. Large and Joe A. Swisher and the Trailhead Graphics, Inc map of the Antietam Battlefield).
  2. The text is documented. Again references are required.
  3. I have visited the location and confirmed the object is not in place.
  4. An exception for #1 of course is if during the on site visit, a pole, base or other indicator of the object location is noted. Still text must be documented with some degree of accuracy.

Based on the site visits, most likely four of these 29 are simply out for maintenance. However several of those recorded as missing have been “lost” for some time, as indicated with references to Large and Swisher in the notes. In some cases, there may well be a “rest of the story,” that needs telling. For instance, were the three missing Shepherdstown tablets victims of flood damage perhaps?

And like the story that keeps going, the tablet “status” is always subject to change. Between the time I started this project and completed the work, an “accident” occurred on the Boonsboro Pike (Highway 34 East). Seems a motorist failed to avoid a tablet cluster somehow (rumble strips, guard rails, who knows?). As seen in the before and after photos on the entry for the Second Army Corps, September 15-16 (number 35), four tablets suffered. Good news is these will be restored in time. Since the last revision of Large and Swisher’s book in 1998, at least five “missing” tablets have been restored by the park service.

Yes, one can dispute some of the battle details of the War Department Tablets. Certainly some of the misspellings are annoying. Run on sentences abound. But taken as a set these are the products of perhaps the most extensive research on the battle ever completed. The Antietam Battlefield Board was staffed by veterans, who in several cases were on the field the day of the battle. In my opinion, beyond aiding the on-site interpretation of the battlefield, these metal plates are part of the historiography of the subject.

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One response to “Missing War Department Tablets

  1. Quite right about the authoritative nature of the tablets, Craig. I think Generals Heth and Carman knew (for the most part) of what they spoke.

    If you want documented text for the missing tablets, the hand-corrected typescripts for most (Federal initialed by Carman, Confederate by Heth) are at the Natl Archives. They’re not dated, however, so it might be hard to know if they represent final edits before casting. I compared a few sheets to the extant tablets some years back, and they matched, but that’s hardly scientific. I expect these docs were Large and Swisher’s references, also.

    Most excellent work on all these Maryland tablets, by the way. It’s a very nice way to see them online.

    Now get some rest.