This story was first published in the Fayetteville Observer.
A Wisconsin state senator is proposing renaming Fort Bragg — to Fort Bragg, after a cousin of the Confederate general.
In December, Congress approved the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision from a bill filed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren seeking to remove Confederate names from installations within three years.
Fort Bragg is one of those nationwide installations and is named after Confederate general Braxton Bragg, who historians say was a slave owner who fought with subordinates and lost battles.
The National Defense Authorization Act states that a renaming commission will research costs of changing the names of the installations, while also seeking the input of stakeholders and communities near the installations.
In a news release Tuesday, Wisconsin state Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, announced his resolution that proposes renaming Fort Bragg after Braxton Bragg’s cousin, Union Gen. Edward Stuyvesant Bragg, of Wisconsin.
Who was Edward Bragg?
Edward S. Bragg volunteered for the Union Army at the outset of the Civil War with no prior military service and reached the rank of brigadier general by 1864, according to the news release.
Bragg would later command the 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment that was joined by the 2nd Wisconsin, 7th Wisconsin, and 19th Indiana and became known as the “Iron Brigade.”
According to the news release, the brigade participated in “several famous bloody attacks of the Civil War.”
Edward S. Bragg retired from the Army in 1865 and later served Wisconsin as a state senator and in Congress.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Kooyenga said a friend who loves to read history books told him about Edward S. Bragg.
“I knew about the looking to change (Fort Bragg’s) name and did some research and thought this was perfect,” Kooyenga said. “I think American history is full of ironies, and I thought it was appropriate for a Wisconsin state senator to bring it up.”
Kooyenga himself enlisted in the Army in 2005 and has served at Fort Bragg as has one of his brothers, who is also in the Army.
Kooyenga is currently a major in the Army Reserve under the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command.
While Kooyenga said he has other priorities he’s focusing on for his district, he hopes the Commission on Removing Confederate Symbols and Names from U.S. Military Assets takes the resolution into consideration.
“To me, I think this offers a beautiful compromise,” Kooyenga said.
Kooyenga said he’s heard points that advocate for removing the Confederate name association of Fort Bragg.
But, Kooyenga said, he’s also heard that some associate Fort Bragg with the military service of its soldiers, not the Confederate general it is named after.
The news release from his office states that Bragg fought against the nation he pledged allegiance to and that “even his Confederate subordinates considered him quick-tempered with an inability to lead, resulting in the needless slaughter of men and his eventual resignation from the Confederate army.”
“With (Braxton) Bragg, he was not an honorable guy in any respect,” Kooyenga said, also questioning why an installation would be named after an “enemy of the U.S.” or someone who lost battles. “I get that, and I think this offers a compromise to the renaming.”
Seeking a compromise to rename Fort Bragg
Kooyenga said he hopes his resolution gains bipartisan support and creates a compromise, while also honoring a native of Wisconsin.
“In contrast to the man it currently honors, Fort Bragg creates some of America’s greatest leaders, men and women who dedicate themselves to principles that stand in sharp contrast to Braxton Bragg’s principles,” the news release from his office states. “In fact, Fort Bragg better resembles the ideals of Wisconsin Gen. Edward S. Bragg, not his cousin.”