Local historian provides insight on meaning, history of confederate flags

Even as the confederate flag was removed from the capitol grounds in South Carolina Friday, there are still many who defend the confederate battle flag.

Some say it represents heritage, not hate.

So Friday afternoon we met up with Wes Spurgeon, a historian at the Tipton-Haynes Historic Site in Johnson City.

He showed us all of the different confederate national flags that represented the Confederate States of America.

Spurgeon says they may not be the flags you think of when you think of the confederacy.

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He adds that is because the confederate battle flag is now the most common flag people use to associate with the confederacy.

“It lasted from 1861 through the whole Civil War, and this confederate battle flag was actually used by certain regiments during the Civil War for the confederacy,” said Spurgeon.

It is a flag that through the years has turned into a divisive symbol.

“Local groups like the KKK they just kind of kept it alive, where as the national confederate flags were just kind of lost in history,” said Spurgeon.

More than 150 years later, it is still a widely debated symbol.

When we asked Spurgeon if the flag represents heritage or hate, he said both.

“For heritage because some ancestors did fight for the confederacy, but also there is hate because the confederacy did want to keep slavery,” said Spurgeon.

We also asked him about what people in our region were fighting for during the Civil War.

“The only one county around here was Sullivan County, they were very pro confederate, every other county was kind of split, and actually several counties around here did send and make union regiments,” said Spurgeon.

Spurgeon says while the Civil War may have only been a short chapter in our history, it is something we can’t forget.

“We have to remember, or we will repeat it again,” said Spurgeon.

Copyright 2015 WJHL. All rights reserved

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