One week before General Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox, Tench Traymore finds Lance, his cousin, dead on a Virginia battlefield. He sets out for southern Georgia on Night, Lance’s horse, with his cousin's journal strapped to his chest for safety. Tench is determined to carry on the narrative in the journal – the “white tablet” of the title. An educated, green-eyed, black youth, Tench has to fight to stay alive in the final days of the American Civil War as he escapes from bandits, Northern soldiers, and many other dangers in his quest to find his family and home.
Tench’s first-person account of his journey offers both an accurate history of the dissolution of the Confederacy and the protagonist’s coming of age. His search for “true selfhood” gives meaning to his treacherous journey.