‘The time has come’: Which US bases may lose their Confederate namesakes?
As protests against the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd accelerated, the United States had long been pushing to remove the Confederacy icons and symbols. Cities demolish statues, and the Confederate flag is increasingly banned as a symbol of hostility rather than heritage.
A Senate committee has now decided to force the Pentagon to free 10 U.S. military posts from their confederate names within three years - a move that the Department of Defense has been opposing for years.
Given the side they had chosen, many of the bases' namesakes were vocal proponents of slavery and fought to defend a morally reprehensible institution. Also problematic from a military point of view, critics point out that these bases were all named after traitors to their country. Some of the honored were also notoriously bad commanders.
President Donald Trump says he will "not even consider" renaming the bases and calling them "part of a great American heritage". But decorated modern military leaders have pushed back, arguing that this is the right move.
"The events since George Floyd's murder have given us the opportunity to change bases," former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told The New York Times this week. "It always confused me that we don't have a Fort George Washington or Fort Ulysses S. Grant or Fort Patton, or an organization named after a recipient of the African American Medal of Honor. I think the time has come and we have here a real opportunity. "
Here is an overview of the bases and some background information on their namesakes:
1. FORT A.P. HILL, Virginia
Ambrose Powell Hill Jr., one of Robert E. Lee's most trusted subordinates, saw a meteoric rise and became the youngest major general of the Confederate Army. However, his reputation as a fearless commander and aggressive tactician did not lead to battle success later in the war. Hill died fighting a week before Lee's surrender at Appomattox, saying he didn't feel like seeing the Confederacy collapse.
2. Fort Lee, Virginia
No civil war general had a purely American family tree as Robert E. Lee, a legendary handsome man known as a “marble model” by his classmates at West Point. Two of his ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence, and his father Henry wrote the famous ode to his good friend George Washington: "First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen," said historian Robert Leckie.
However, when Lee was asked to lead the Union Army’s over 75,000 soldiers, he declined, saying that although he opposed the secession, he "could not participate in a southern invasion". Instead, he returned to his native Virginia to "share the misery of my people." In an act widely regarded as treason, he took command of the Confederate Army in Northern Virginia, whose troops worshiped him. "I heard about God," said one, "but I saw General Lee."
And while Lee is often portrayed as a benevolent general who happened to own slaves, he saw slavery as a positive institution when he once wrote in a letter: “The painful discipline that [blacks] go through is necessary for their instruction as a race. I hope to prepare them and lead them to better things. “He made a point of breaking up black families on his plantation and used to hit hard. And when his army met free black Americans in the field, Lee ordered them to be enslaved and returned to the south as property.
3. FORT PICKETT, Virginia
George Pickett, who most recently graduated from his West Point class, is best known for leading Pickett's indictment at the Battle of Gettysburg. Of Pickett's division of 5,500, around 1,100 were wounded, 1,500 were missing or captured, and 224 were killed. Pickett's official battle report has reportedly been rejected by his superiors for his "bitter negativity." When journalists asked why his infamous charge had failed, Pickett liked to say, "I always thought the Yankees had something to do with it." After the war, Pickett fled to Canada for a year because he feared he would have executed 22 captured soldiers before Ulysses S. Grant intervened for him.
4. FORT BRAGG, North Carolina
General Braxton Bragg, after whom America's largest military facility is named, was not a great leader, according to almost all historians. He was a West Point graduate with a "spiky nature" and a reputation for generating "cold looks" among his troops. including Earl J. Hess, author of "Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man of the Confederation". Although he excelled in the Mexican-American war, "his leadership style tended to hamper initiative during the civil war," Dr. Hess firmly, and his subordinates complained incredulously that "he could never understand a card".
5. FORT GORDON, Georgia
Although he had no previous military training, John Brown Gordon was elected captain of his company in Georgia and fought with honors - and after several serious injuries, including five gunshot wounds, suffered during the Battle of Antietam. After the war, he served as a U.S. senator, governor of Georgia, and rumored to be the leader of the Ku Klux clan, which he denied.
6. FORT BENNING, Georgia
General Henry Benning, a vocal activist for the secession, was passionate about protecting the wealth of slave owners and was firmly against the freedom of blacks in America. In a highly racist speech, he was concerned that if the north wins, "the black race will be in a vast majority and we will have black governors, black lawmakers, black juries, all black," which will cause the US to " to return "to a wilderness. "His family celebrated his legacy." That was a man, "they had engraved on his tombstone. His wife is said to have inspired Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell's" Gone With The Wind ".
7. FORT RUCKER, Alabama
Edmund Rucker joined the Confederate Army as a private citizen, but rose through the ranks through his engineering experience. When Tennessee voted to leave the Union, more than 100,000 voted in favor of the decision, but 47,000 - most in the eastern part of the state - voted to remain. According to Michael Rucker, who wrote the first published biography of his distant relative last year, Rucker was tasked with maintaining martial law there, punishing the burning bridges, and forcing locals who refused to join the Confederate Army.
8th CAMP BEAUREGARD, Louisiana
After the secession of his native Louisiana, Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard resigned from the US military and became the first Confederate Army brigade general. He was known as a competent commander who participated in the first Battle of Bull Run and the defense of Richmond, Virginia. Colleagues, however, complained that his tendency to question orders bordered on insubordination. After the war, he became rich and promoted the lottery in Louisiana.
9. FORT POLK, Louisiana
Although Leonidas Polk was a West Point graduate, he had spent most of his life as a bishop in Louisiana before the civil war began. He was named Major General by Confederate President Jefferson Davis, his classmate and friend at West Point, in the hope that his knowledge of the Mississippi Valley would be an asset to the war. Polk was killed in 1864 while exploring Union positions.
10. FORT HOOD, Texas
John Bell Hood was known as an initially successful commander who rose quickly through the ranks - too fast, analysts say. In particular, Hood was the Confederate commander at the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee. In the so-called "Pickett's Indictment of the West", Hood ordered almost 20,000 men to storm over 2 miles of open terrain to attack fortified Union soldiers. The attack was repelled in one of the worst defeats of the civil war, with around 6,000 victims from the south, including 14 by Hood's generals.
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