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Pentagon unveils new names for 9 Confederate-named bases

The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia. (Dreamstime/TNS)
May 25, 2022

On Tuesday, the Pentagon’s naming commission announced its proposed new names for nine U.S. Army bases originally named in commemoration of Confederate military leaders during the Civil War.

The Pentagon naming commission was tasked in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with providing Congress with new names for various bases, facilities and other pieces of military property that have been named after Confederate leaders and other controversial historical figures. In a press release, the naming commission announced it had proposed the following bases renamed: Fort Benning, Ga. to Fort Moore; Fort Bragg, N.C. to Fort Liberty; Fort Gordon, Ga. to Fort Eisenhower; Fort A.P. Hill, Va. to Fort Walker; Fort Hood, Texas to Fort Cavazos; Fort Lee, Va. to Fort Gregg-Adams; Fort Pickett, Va. to Fort Barfoot; Fort Polk, La. to Fort Johnson; and Fort Rucker, Ala. to Fort Novosel.

The commission recommended renaming Fort Benning — named after Confederate Gen. Henry L. Benning — to Fort Moore, after Lt. Gen. Hal and Julia Moore. Hal Moore led troops during the first major battle of the Vietnam War, the Battle of Ia Drang. The battle was depicted in the 2002 film “We Were Soldiers.” While the battle continued in Vietnam, Julia Moore waited at home as she and the other military wives waited for casualty notifications, which at the time came in the form of telegrams delivered by taxicab drivers. Julia Moore would go on to advocate for the Army to establish uniformed casualty notification teams, which are still in use today.

The commission recommended Fort Bragg — named after Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg — be renamed Fort Liberty, in honor of the value of liberty.

The commission recommended Fort Gordon — named after Confederate Gen. John Brown Gordon — be renamed Fort Eisenhower after Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower served as the supreme allied commander during World War II and went on to serve as President from 1953 to 1961.

The commission recommended Fort A.P. Hill — named after Confederate Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill Jr. — be renamed Fort Walker after Dr. Mary Walker. Walker initially tried to join the Union Army at the start of the Civil War but was turned down. She was eventually hired as a surgeon for the Union Army. She was taken as a prisoner of war by Confederate forces in 1864. After the war, Walker wrote to President Andrew Johnson seeking a retroactive military commission for her efforts during the war. The Army determined there was no precedent at the time for commissioning a woman and Johnson instead awarded her the Medal of Honor, making her the only woman in history to receive this recognition.

The commission recommended Fort Hood — named after Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood — be renamed Fort Cavazos after Gen. Richard Cavazos, who received the Distinguished Service Cross in the Korean War and then again in the Vietnam War, both times for leading assaults on fortified enemy positions.

The commission recommended Fort Lee — named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — be renamed Fort Gregg-Adams after Lt. Gen. Arthur Gregg and Lt. Col. Charity Adams, two Black Army officers. According to the Progress-Index, Gregg began his 35-year military career at Fort Lee and retired as the deputy director of logistics for the entire Army. The Army established the annual LTG Arthur J. Gregg Sustainment Leadership Award in 2015, to recognize military logistics officers and officials who have made significant contributions to the Army’s logistics.

Adams became the first black woman in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and she went on to command and the first World War II battalion comprised of all black women members.

The commission recommended Fort Pickett — named after Confederate Gen. George Pickett — be renamed Fort Barfoot after Tech. Sgt. Van T. Barfoot, who earned the Medal of Honor for taking out a German machine gun nest, then disabling a German tank and killing its crew, then disabling a German field gun before helping two of his wounded teammates to safety during fighting in Italy in 1944.

The commission recommended Fort Polk — named after Confederate Gen. Leonidas Polk — be renamed Fort Johnson after Sgt. William Henry Johnson, a black soldier who fought in World War I and earned the Medal of Honor for fending off a German surprise attack, at times fighting hand-to-hand with a knife, and preventing a fellow soldier from being captured.

The commission recommended Fort Rucker — named after Confederate Gen. Edmund Rucker — be renamed Fort Novosel after Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael J. Novosel, Sr., who earned the Medal of Honor for repeatedly braving enemy fire to rescue injured troops during fighting in October of 1969 in the Vietnam War.

The naming commission said it also considered renaming Fort Belvoir, Va. The commission noted the base was originally named after Maj. Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys in 1917 and then renamed in 1935 to Fort Belvoir. While the name is not technically in reference to any Confederate leader, the name comes from a colonial-era plantation that once stood on the same grounds as the base. The plantation held slaves and was owned by the family of William Fairfax, a British political appointee assigned to the Virginia colony.

“The commissioners determined Belvoir does not meet the criteria
provided in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act for a renaming recommendation, but will recommend the Department of Defense conduct its own naming review of the post,” the naming commission said.