Wisconsin units that fought for the Union during the Civil War took great pride in the Confederate flags they captured during battle. Following the war, captured flags were turned over to the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Tension still existed over the years between Northern and Southern states, but World War II helped close the division with a common enemy. Many of Wisconsin’s captured flags were returned to the South at that time.
Some of the captured Confederate flags were transferred from the historical society to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum
in Madison. The museum also added more flags along with other artifacts to its historical collection in 2006. The museum handles its flags carefully for restoration and storage.
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Confederate flags conserved by the museum include the 1st Tennessee Regiment flag, which was captured by the 1st Wisconsin unit in 1862 during the Battle of Perryville in Kentucky. Museum officials continue research on the flags in their possession. One flag is believed to have been captured by the 29th Wisconsin Infantry in 1863 at Champion’s Hill, Mississippi.
Captured flags aren’t the only Confederate flags visible in Wisconsin. Like some people in many areas throughout the country, the flag takes on a cultural or historical perspective.
Confederate flags became an issue at Baraboo High School in 2012 when some students wanted to honor the death of their friend by placing Confederate flags on their pickup trucks. The friend had died when his pickup truck overturned.
One student described the carrying of the Confederate flag as something the friend would have wanted, according to the Baraboo News Republic
. It wasn’t intended to show division but as a symbol of rebellion, the student said.
Friends said the deceased student and friends from the high school had often driven around the area with the Confederate flag waving in the back. Some people related the flag to everything from the "General Lee" car on the TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” to using pickups for hunting or fishing.
Others members of the community were disturbed by the flags. After he received several phone calls about the students' display, the school principal convinced the students to stop the practice because of what the flag represented to many people in the past.
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