Amherst displays Civil War tablets after decades in storage

Amherst Tablets
Mandi Jo Hanneke, Amherst Town Council/Facebook

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — Civil War tablets inscribed with the names of Black soldiers of the famed 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment and 5th Calvary are on display in Amherst after 30 years in storage.

Debora Bridges, the daughter of late World War II veteran Dudley Bridges Sr., returned to Amherst a year ago and began advocating for the tablets’ return. Bridges and her daughter wrote to Town Hall and urged for the tablets to be displayed after they were removed from Town Hall during renovations decades ago, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported.

Bridges’ great-great-great grandfather, Christopher Thompson, is one of the Black soldiers whose name is inscribed on the tablets. Also, Thompson and his brother Charles Thompson were among the soldiers that arrived in Texas in 1865, notifying people that the Civil War had ended — and with it, slavery.

Alongside the plaques, there are photos showing the 54th Regiment and other photos of Black Civil War soldiers, including Bridges’ family.

Bridges said she hopes families see familiar names and photos in the display.

“This is a way to represent all the ancestors in town who fought in the Civil War,” Bridges said.

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