April 11, 1861, Brig. General Pierre G.T. Beauregard, Commander of the Confederate Forces in the Charleston area, demanded that Major Robert Anderson of the Union Army surrender his command at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Anderson refused. Beauregard opened fire. And the civil war ensued.
Today, Beauregard has an American military base in Louisiana named after him. Anderson does not.
Beauregard was not the only one to receive such an honor as a traitor in the United States. At least nine other major military facilities are named after generals who led Confederate troops – a practice the military has championed for years based on the claim that they have “an important place in our history military, “as an army official recently said.
Among the former states of Confederation, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina each have a military base named for a Confederate general, according to a 2017 Congressional Research Service report. Louisiana and Georgia have two each. And Virginia, which was the seat of the Confederation government, has three of these facilities.
Most of these bases were established during the First World War as “camps” and closed periodically between the wars. During the Second World War, many of them were officially established as “forts” with their original names intact. But in at least one case, a training area in a fort was named for a Confederate as recently as 1979 – Wilcox Camp, named for Brig. General Cadmus M. Wilcox, within the limits of Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, himself named in honor of a Confederate general.
Why haven’t the names already been changed?
The NAACP has long argued for renaming military bases honoring Confederate soldiers, arguing that the battle flag glorifies “betrayal and a hateful history of white supremacy and black subjugation.”
The call to remove the names of the Confederate leaders resurfaces whenever the lingering problems of race and the grim legacy of the United States’ civil war and slavery are brought to light by current events. It was discussed following the mass shootout of nine black worshipers in Charleston, SC, by avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof in 2015. Roof documented his fetishization of the Confederate flag in a blog before leading the attack, and also embraced the flags of apartheid. South African era and the white-controlled nation of Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe.
After white supremacists marched on Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, clearly to protest the proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the idea of renaming army bases was launched again by academics and experts. Military leaders publicly denounced racism at the time, but General Mark A. Milley, then Chief of the Defense Staff, chose not to continue renaming the bases. Milley has since become president of the Joint Staff. He received criticism last week for accompanying White House President Trump to a church in camouflage uniform on June 1, moments after the area was cleared of peaceful protests by security forces using tear gas .