Some of the Army’s biggest and most iconic posts are named after Confederate officers: Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, and seven others.
Following controversy over the removal of Confederate monuments in the past week, a New York congresswoman has proposed a law that would force the Army to change the names of those posts that bear the names of Confederate soldiers.
“Naming military property after armed insurrectionists with American blood on their hands is an affront to members of the Armed Forces, many of whom are people of color, who take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution,” Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-New York, wrote in a bill co-sponsored by 10 other New Jersey and New York Democrats. “There are an ample number of meritorious members of the Armed Forces, who loyally served the United States, for whom military property could and should be named.”
Army Times put the question to our readers, who resoundingly voted to keep the names.
More than 14,000 responses came in from two different polls, with 70 percent of respondents checking the box for ”No,” because the posts’ namesakes are part of American military history.
“While the Confederacy was in open rebellion against the US, the blanket presidential pardon for every Confederate forgave the act of treason and restored all rights and privileges of citizenship,” Mike O‘Shaughnessy wrote. ”These posts are named after American generals.”
Meanwhile, 9 percent said they didn’t care one way or another, while 21 percent voted to re-name.
Some argued that the Confederacy was a treasonous body and shouldn’t be honored.
“The Confederacy was literally a rebellion against the United States of America, and actively fought against the U.S. Army,” Forrest Jennings wrote. “They were the textbook definition of the word traitor.”
Others questioned why certain names were chosen.
“I would like to respond to this question about the namesake of our beloved Fort Bragg, North Carolina,” John Burgher wrote. ”I served at Fort Bragg and the Home of the Airborne shall always hold a special place in my heart. I do not look forward to anything that discredits it. I have long wondered why the U.S. Army chose to honor Gen. Braxton Bragg by naming the fort after him. I know he is from North Carolina and realize that it was common practice back then to appease the occupied southlanders by naming posts after local heroes, but Gen. Bragg was no hero. By any measure, he was the very worst confederate officer. Shiloh, Perryville, Stones River, if not for Gen. Longstreet, he would’ve lost at Chickamauga too. I have heard it said many times that he was one of the north’s greatest assets. Is this why they named Fort Bragg after him? The great loser! I think it is significant to note that he and his family were slave owners. They owned several hundred slaves among them. Why should this man be remembered in such a way?”
Still, most readers felt that the posts should keep their names.
”Second, the legacy of these generals is still part of our battalion, regimental, and division history,” O’Shaughnessy added. ”The tactics and lessons learned are part of our training. Renaming these posts is a way of denying our history and the influence of the men they are named for.”
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.