Confederate Vets Group Research, Their Heritage

By Dan Fearson of Highlands Today
Published: December 13, 2007

SEBRING — David Poteat is proud of his family’s Southern heritage, and he and other local people have formed a group to research and tell stories of their Confederate roots.

He also understands that some people have preconceived notions about his group that are far from the truth.

Poteat is quick to point out that a new Highlands County chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is "in no way a hate organization."

In fact, the group has fought alleged hate groups in court who have used Confederate themes to spread their agenda, he adds.

Open to all male descendants of Confederate armed forces veterans 12 and older, the group’s mission is more about preserving Confederate history than anything else.

Poteat, who is originally from Georgia, said he became interested in tracing his genealogy about five years ago and has so far traced 33 family members who were in the Confederate armed forces. Now, he is responsible for helping organize the Francis A. Hendry Camp-Number 1284 –– the local SCV’s official moniker.

The group can be a valuable resource in helping members trace their ancestry to see if they have any Confederate soldiers in their bloodline, Poteat said.

"It’s important for people to know where their families come from," said Poteat. "It’s important for people to carry on the good name of their Confederate soldier family members."

The Sons also preserve "the history and legacy of heroes, so future generations can understand the motives that animated the Southern Cause," the group’s Web site says.

The national group organized in Richmond, Va., in 1896, and its national headquarters are located in Columbia, Tenn. In Florida, there are over 53 SCV camps with more than 1,500 members. The Florida division of the organization’s Web site said that one of their main goals is Confederate and historic flag preservation. The division also has scholarship opportunities for members.

The local group began to get together about six months ago. It has 12 members now and more are expected.

Poteat said that one of the reasons he believes in the historic preservation of Confederate history is because he thinks that soldiers fought over fair trade issues between northern and southern states with Europe, and that Confederate ideologies have played a major role in shaping the country’s current political structure.

"The (Civil War) was the most important war that this country has been involved in because it was fought within the country," said Poteat. "If the war had not taken place, there’s no way to know how the country would be set up right now in terms of states rights and fair trade."

The camp meets at 6:30 p.m., on the second Tuesday of each month. Poteat said that the meetings usually consist of member history lessons and information pertaining to upcoming events the camp is involved in.

Poteat said that camp members have attended different functions across the state to participate in a number of things, including traveling to historic vigil displays and gravesites.

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