U.S. Military To Rename Bases That Honor Confederates
U.S. Army has proposed new names to nine military bases in honor of Confederate officers. This includes the chief of its army and the commander who ordered the Civil War’s first shots.
In the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act Congress established the Naming Commission. It suggested that a list be made of names for military installations which included women and Black Americans, instead of white men.
The posts are named after Confederate officers and can be found in all 50 states. The names were often given long after the Civil War—including many in the first half of the 20th Century when the U.S. military was rushing to open training posts for both world wars.
The panel, composed of former uniformed and civilian military leaders, visited the installations to gain feedback from soldiers and the community about “their process, preferences for new names and an understanding of local sensitivities.” The commission said it received more than 34,000 submissions related to naming activities.
After the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police, calls for renaming military bases, ships and military assets increased in 2020. This was in light of national reckoning over racial inequality and the subsequent murder of George Floyd. In March the Naming Commission uploaded an inventory of more than 700 Department of Defense items to its website. This list was to assess whether or not their names honor the Confederacy, and to make a recommendation to rename them. The list includes streets, bridges, structures, painting, vehicles, signs, and military installations.
Lloyd Austin, Defense Secretary must approve these naming suggestions to be fully implemented.
Below is the complete list:
Fort Benning changed to Fort Moore
Fort Benning, Ga.Today, Brigadier General Henry Benning is honored. He was a Georgia lawyer and politician as well as a judge and supporter for slavery. Camp Benning was established by the Army in 1918. It became the Home of the Infantry four years later, 1950. Forts are generally larger, more permanent structures than camps. “In the wake of Lincoln’s election, Benning became one of Georgia’s most vocal proponents of secession,” according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.
Fort Moore honors Lieut. General Hal Moore with Julia Moore. Hal Moore served 32 years in total, including assignments in Japan. Norway. Vietnam. And twice, in Korea. In Vietnam, 79 soldiers under Moore’s command were killed and 121 wounded in less than 72 hours. Julia, who was at Fort Benning as a cabbie to give notices and offer condolences in support of the families of the combat killed in action and to attend the funerals. According to the panel, her efforts led to the formation of survivor support networks and casualty notification units.
Fort Bragg changed to Fort Liberty
Fort Bragg, N.C., honors General Braxton Bragg who served in the Second Seminole War, the Mexican–American War and the Civil War. Bragg is considered one of the most disgraceful Confederate generals. He waged war inefficiently, with numerous frontal assaults and lack of follow through that resulted in battlefield defeats. “Even Bragg’s staunchest supporters admonished him for his quick temper, general irritability, and tendency to wound innocent men with barbs thrown during his frequent fits of anger,” historian Peter Cozzens has written.
According to the Pentagon, Fort Liberty will honor liberty’s value. “Our Army was founded to achieve the ideal of liberty. In the American Revolution, patriots fought for the liberty to direct their lives, pursue their happiness, and determine their futures through representative democracy,” the panel wrote.
Fort Gordon is renamed Fort Eisenhower
Fort Gordon, Ga., honors Lieut. General John Brown Gordon, one of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee’s most-trusted officers. It was originally called Camp Gordon, but it changed to Fort Gordon in 1956. It is home to the Army Signal Corps and the service’s Cyber Center of Excellence. “Generally acknowledged as the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1872,” according to the New Georgia EncyclopediaGordon refuted the accusation. “By the time of his death in 1904, Gordon had capitalized on his war record to such an extent that he had become for many Georgians, and southerners in general, the living embodiment of the Confederacy.”
Fort Eisenhower would honor Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower was a general who led the Allied Forces into victory in World War II. After returning to the U.S., Eisenhower was a hero in war. He served as president of Columbia University before becoming the supreme NATO commander. Eisenhower ended Korea War 1953 and initiated diplomatic negotiations between the Soviet Union, Cold War adversary, in 1956. Eisenhower signed civil right legislation in 1957 and 1960. He also ordered federal troops in Little Rock to implement school desegregation. In 1957. He was TIME’s Man of the Year in 1944 and 1959, and later became the first president to be limited by the Constitution’s 22nd Amendment of two terms. In his farewell address in January 1961, he famously warned of the dangers of the “military-industrial complex.”
Fort A.P. Fort A.P. Hill was renamed Fort Walker
Fort A.P. HillVirginia honors Virginian Lieut. General A.P. Hill. It was built by the Army six months before Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. It is now a military training and maneuver facility that provides realistic training in both combined and joint arms. Hill was a fragile man with a weak physique. He also became frequently sick, which historians think is due to the West Point gonorrhea infection. This forced Hill to go back to school for his third year. Hill was killed by an Union soldier, from Pennsylvania, just one week before Civil War’s end.
Fort Walker will honor Mary Walker. “By the start of the Civil War, the 28-year-old Walker had already emerged as a skilled surgeon and strong abolitionist and advocate of women’s rights and equality,” the panel wrote. Walker applied several times for a position as a Union surgeon but was denied. Instead, she was offered a job as a nurse as she is a woman. Instead, she chose to volunteer in temporary hospitals throughout Washington and support the military. In 1862 she moved to Virginia, where she treated wounded soldiers at the frontlines after the Fredericksburg carnage. She was detained for four months by the Confederates two years later. Walker was presented with the Medal of Honor on November 18, 1865.
Fort Hood changed to Fort Cavazos
Fort HoodTexas honors John Bell Hood, the native Kentuckian. It was originally called Camp Hood, and became a fort by 1950. The largest U.S. active-duty armored fort is located here. Hood suffered a severe injury at Gettysburg. He lost his right arm. Hood led his troops to victory at Chickamauga. He was wounded and lost his right leg.
Fort Cavazos will honor General Richard Cavazos. A Texan and the first Hispanic-American to pin on four stars, Cavazos served in Korea, where he led a company of Puerto Rican soldiers and earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military honor for valor, after he personally evacuated his wounded men against an enemy onslaught. This feat was accomplished five times, even though he was injured. “When the Vietnam War began, then-Lt. Col. Cavazos was ready to bring men into battle once more: he commanded an infantry battalion, often fighting in the field–and frequently leading from the front,” the panel wrote. “In 1967, he was once again awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for rallying his men through an ambush, organizing a counterattack, and leading several maneuvers to repulse and destroy extensive enemy defenses, repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire in the process. Throughout his career, Cavazos continued to combine personal valor with commitment to his troops and dedication to his missions, additionally earning two Legions of Merit, a Silver Star, five Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and many other medals and awards for exceptional service in war and peace,” the panel wrote.
Fort Lee changed to Fort Gregg-Adams
Fort Lee, Va., honors Virginian General Robert E. Lee, the South’s commanding officer by the Civil War’s end. Camp Lee was created by the War Department within weeks of declaring war upon Germany in 1917. In 1950, the Pentagon made Fort Lee out of it. The Army Quartermaster School is located just south of Richmond. Lee, a slaveholder, was the Confederacy’s most renowned general and his forces inflicted tens of thousands of casualties on Union soldiers’ at Antietam, Gettysburg and Manassas.
Fort Gregg would be honored by Lieut. General Arthur Gregg and Lieutenant. Col. Charity Adams. Gregg enlisted after his parents signed waivers allowing him to enlist with the U.S. Army in 1945 at age 17. He was a Black man and was sent to Germany in the role of medical laboratory technician. However, it was discovered that no jobs were available. He eventually was assigned to a Quartermaster Truck Company as a supply clerk. This set him up for becoming one of the most distinguished Black officers in the history of the period. In occupied Germany, he was a supply logistician and helped to rebuild Europe. Later, he ran “a supply depot in Japan, commanded a supply and support battalion in Vietnam, and served in several assignments in Germany throughout the Cold War, including his leadership of the Army and Air Force Exchange System,” the panel wrote. “At the peak of his service, Gregg served as logistics director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics for the Army. Gregg was also a champion for equality in the home, in addition to his vast service around the globe. As a young of officer in the 1950s, Gregg also personally desegregated the Fort Lee Officers Club, and, throughout his career, he mentored numerous younger soldiers.”
Adams was chosen to lead the first Black woman unit to be deployed overseas during World War II. This was charged with transporting mail from Europe to almost 7 million troops. “Adams’ unit handled an estimated 65,000 letters a day and close to two million pieces of mail each month,” the panel wrote. “Gender discrimination limited her promotion to lieutenant colonel, the highest rank attainable by any woman during the war. It took her three men to replace the battalion that had disbanded. This proved her efficiency.
Fort Pickett is renamed Fort Barfoot
Fort PickettVirginia, in honor of Major General George Pickett. Pickett was a native Virginian. Pickett’s 1863 charge at Gettysburg has been called “the high-water mark of the Confederacy.” The charge resulted in a rebel bloodbath. Pickett fled Canada to escape execution for being a traitor, and he remained there for one year. Camp Pickett was dedicated on July 3, 1942, at 3 p.m., 79 years to the day and hour of Pickett’s charge in Gettysburg. The fort was made a Virginia Army National Guard facility in 1974.
Fort Barfoot honors Technical Sergeant Van T. Barfoot. Barfoot’s unit was attacking entrenched German forces north Italy on May 23, 1944 when it came under attack by machine gun positions at the foothills o the Alps. “Barfoot moved out alone, heading for the enemy flank,” the panel wrote. “Crawling to the edge of the first machine gun emplacement, Barfoot threw a grenade that killed two and wounded three of the crew, disabling the position. Barfoot secured three of the prisoners and then advanced upon a second machine-gun nest, which he attacked using tommy guns, killing two more enemies soldiers and taking 3 prisoners. Barfoot continued on his solo attack, and eventually came upon a third machine guns emplacement. This forced Barfoot to surrender. Having turned the tide in the area, he continued to “mop up” the remaining enemy positions, ultimately taking 17 prisoners while consolidating the newly won position.” Later in the afternoon the Germans counterattacked, Barfoot led a small squad and successfully defending the ground gained. For his efforts, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. He served 34 years in total, with tours to Vietnam and Korea.
Fort Polk is renamed Fort Johnson
Fort Polk, La., honors Lieut. General Leonidas Polk, an Episcopal bishop born in North Carolina. Established in 1941, the post is now home to the Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center, which trains thousands of soldiers annually for overseas deployments. Polk was bitterly fought during the Civil War alongside his immediate superior, General Braxton Bragg of Fort Bragg fame. Polk was one of most serious war blunders before his death in battle in 1864 in the Atlanta campaign. He sent troops to occupy Columbus, Ky., which led the Kentucky legislature to appeal to Washington for help, ending the state’s brief try at neutrality.
Fort Johnson will honor Sergeant William Henry Johnson. In the predawn hours on May 14, 1918, during World War I, Johnson was inside a trench in France’s Argonne Forest with a fellow Black soldier when a German raiding party suddenly attacked his position. “Facing a fierce enemy, wounded, and without support, Johnson could have surrendered but chose to fight,” the panel wrote. “Sounding the alarm before single-handedly facing the enemy, Johnson threw grenades until his supply was exhausted. Johnson fired his weapon until it ran out of ammunition. Johnson charged his enemy with his revolver, using the bullets he had run out. Johnson noticed two Germans preparing to take his wounded companion away for questioning. He abandoned his rifle, and instead pulled his bolo blade. The raiders were defeated at close quarters. Johnson defeated approximately twenty-four men in that battle, and at least four were killed. Few returned to the line unscathed. Despite being outnumbered by a factor of twenty and sustaining 21 separate wounds in hand-to-hand combat, he had saved his comrade, sounded the alarm, and secured his unit’s safety and position. Johnson became the United States’ first hero of the Great War.”
Fort Rucker is renamed Fort Novosel
Fort Rucker Ala., honors Tennessee native Colonel Edmund Rucker, who was often called “general” but never attained the rank (he was known as “general” after becoming a leading Birmingham, Ala., industrialist after the Civil War). Fort Rucker, now the Home of Army Aviation is known today. At one time it was the Ozark Triangular Division Camp. In 1942 Camp Rucker was changed to Camp Rucker. In 1955, it was renamed Fort Rucker.
Fort Novosel will honor Chief Warrant officer 4 Michael J. Novosel. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1941 at age 19, 10 months prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. At the tender age of 23 he was promoted to the rank and flying B-29 Superfortress bombers. “Assigned to Vietnam as a “Dustoff” pilot, he flew helicopters evacuating combat zone casualties; a dangerous mission in which approximately one third of all medevac pilots became casualties themselves,” the panel wrote. “In Novosel’s two tours in Vietnam, he flew 2,543 extraction missions, rescuing over 5,500 seriously wounded soldiers.” He earned the Medal of Honor for heroics on Oct. 2, 1969, when at the age of 47, Novosel saved 29 men from certain death.
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