The U.S. Army does not plan to change the names of several bases named after Confederate war heroes, despite a broader effort in some states to remove such tributes.
“We have no plans to rename any street or installation, including those named for Confederate generals,” an Army spokesperson told Task & Purpose. The service will instead continue with the existing names of many well known military bases and installations.
“It is important to note that the naming of installations and streets was done in a spirit of reconciliation, not to demonstrate support for any particular cause or ideology,” the U.S. Army spokesperson continued. “The Army has a tradition of naming installations and streets after historical figures of military significance, including former Union and Confederate general officers.”
Among the list of Army bases named after Confederate leaders are: Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Hood, Fort Lee, Fort Pickett, Fort Polk, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard.
The question of the services’ continued use of the controversial names comes shortly after the U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger ordered the removal of all Confederate paraphernalia from Marine bases, effective immediately.
Military historian Army Maj. Mark Herbert wrote a 2017 article for Task & Purpose detailing the Confederate naming convention and how it came into practice. Herbert noted that the U.S. military saw an outgrowth of bases during World War I and World War II and, at the time, the practice of naming bases after historic leaders was left at the discretion of local military commanders.
As in the case of Fort Lee, in Virginia, many of the bases were named for natives of the state in which the base was established. Gen. Robert E. Lee was a native of Virginia and commanded the Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War.
Fort Hood, in Texas, was actually named for a Kentucky native, Gen. John Bell Hood. Hood did serve much of his Army leadership on the Texas frontier, before leaving the U.S. Army to join the Confederate forces.
The continued existence of Confederate names and monuments has been an issue of increased concern in recent years. One particular effort to remove a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia caught mass public attention in 2017 after protests surrounding the issue of the statue turned violent.
One U.S. Marine, Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis, was reportedly seen taking part in the violence at the 2017 political rally. He was later court-martialed, jailed for 28 days, demoted two ranks and lost two-thirds of his salary for a month.