Chesterton Tribune



US base namesakes include slaveholders and failed generals

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CINCINNATI (AP) - As much as President Donald Trump enjoys talking about winning and winners, the Confederate generals he vows will not have their names removed from U.S. military bases were not only on the losing side of rebellion against the United States, some weren’t even considered good generals.

The 10 generals include some who made costly battlefield blunders; others mistreated captured Union soldiers, some were slaveholders and one was linked to the Ku Klux Klan after the war.

Trump has dug in his heels on renaming, saying the bases that trained and deployed heroes for two World Wars “have become part of a Great American Heritage, a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.”

However, there is growing support in the GOP- led Senate to remove the Confederate names and from former U.S. military leaders such as retired 4-star general David Petraeus, who wrote last week that the bases are named “for those who took up arms against the United States, and for the right to enslave others.”

Long revered in much of the South, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee has often been a flashpoint for opponents of honoring Confed-erates who triggered a war that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans on U.S. soil, some of whom were literally waving the Stars and Stripes.

Trump paid tribute to Lee as “a great general” in an impromptu Civil War history lesson during a 2018 rally in Lebanon, Ohio, saying Abraham Lincoln developed “a phobia” about trying to defeat Lee before turning to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant of nearby Point Pleasant, Ohio, for success.

While Lee’s early victories prolonged the war, his failure at the battle of Gettysburg in 1863, capped by the disastrous Pickett’s Charge into Union fire, was the turning point of the war.

Lee was a slaveholder in his native Virginia and at least one of his former slaves testified that Lee had him whipped brutally. During his incursion into free state Pennsylvania Lee’s troops kidnapped freed blacks and drove them into slavery.

Gen. Braxton Bragg, namesake for the North Carolina Army base, was also a slaveholder and a general who resigned his command after defeat in 1863 at Chattanooga. He also lost at Perryville and Stones River in 1862. He was hated by his own men for his harsh discipline, first in the U.S. Army and later in the Confederate Army of the Tennessee.

On ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, George Stephanopoulos asked Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, if it’s time to stop having military bases named after Confederate generals like Bragg.

Lankford indicated agreement, comparing it to names of schools and saying that children should be able to have their school’s namesake as a role model. “You would have that on a military base as well,” Lankford said. “So, if you have a military base that is named after someone that actually rebelled against the United States government, then you would want to be able to go back and look at that name. That should be a pretty basic principle.”

Gen. John Bell Hood, namesake of the Texas base, lost the key city of Atlanta in 1864 after a series of disastrous attacks. Later he and his other commanders slept at Spring Hill, Tennessee allowing Union soldiers to get away on a road so close to the sleeping Confederates that some reportedly used the rebels’ campfires to light their pipes. He followed with catastrophic defeats at Franklin, and Nashville. The late historian Shelby Foote wrote in “The Civil War: A Narrative” that “Hood had wrecked his army, top to bottom.”

Gen. A.P. Hill, namesake of a base in Virginia, is remembered for leading costly frontal assaults early in the the war followed by a mysterious illness that left him unable to function effectively at Gettysburg. He is also remembered for actions after the Battle of the Crater in 1864, where some rebel troops were enraged by the North’s use of black units. Some soldiers wrote letters describing rebels executing defenseless black soldiers. Historians say Hill ordered white Union prisoners to be mixed with black soldiers to be paraded through the city of Petersburg to hear racist jeers from the townspeople.

Virginia base namesake Gen. George Pickett, one of the big losers at Gettysburg, had 22 Union soldiers executed and later fled to Canada. Gen. John Brown Gordon became governor of Georgia after the war but was suspected of being a Klan leader in the state.

Some scholars of the South, such as history professor Ted Ownby, say it’s not clear how renaming the bases would play politically. He said people in the communities around the bases might take offense, but that in today’s South, there’s not as much fascination or identification with Confederate leaders as in older generations.

“What Southern means and who Southerners are has expanded to be much more ... that being Southern isn’t rooted in support or respect for the Confederacy,” said Ownby, of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, at the University of Mississippi.

Editor's Note: Approximately 1,000 men from Porter County served and died in the Armies of the United States during what those men called "The War of the Rebellion."

They are found on the rolls of the 9th, 15th, 20th and 73rd Indiana Regiments of Volunteer Infantry, the 4th Indiana Battery of Light Artillery and many other units.

One or more of these units were at Perryville, Stones River, Chattanooga, Gettysburg, the Atlanta Campaign and many other engagements not mentioned in the story above.

These men include the ancestors of many residents of the county today.



Posted 6/18/2020




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