The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders

Larry Holzwarth - August 15, 2020

It isn’t only Army bases in the American south which were named after leaders of the Confederacy following the Civil War. Some military bases acquired their names as state National Guard Camps, and carried them over when they became active US Army installations. The US Army directly named others for Confederate leaders. The US Navy went even further. Naval warships bore the name of Confederate ships which sank Union vessels and killed Union sailors during the war. One such ship, USS Hunley, a submarine tender commissioned in 1962 bore the name of CSS Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy warship in battle, when it sank USS Housatonic in 1864.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
The US Navy named a warship for the Battle of Chancellorsville, a humiliating defeat for the US Army. Wikimedia

CSS Hunley was commanded by H. L. Dixon. In 1971 the US Navy named another submarine tender, USS Dixon, in his honor. Other naval ships named for Confederate leaders included USS Robert E. Lee, a nuclear ballistic missile submarine commissioned in 1960, and USS Stonewall Jackson, commissioned in 1964. Both of the ballistic missile submarines were part of the original “41 for Freedom” submarines designed to provide an underwater nuclear deterrent during the Cold War. The Navy has also named ships of war for Confederate victories on the battlefield, including USS Chancellorsville, named for the battle considered by historians and military tactics students as Robert E. Lee’s (and Jackson’s) masterpiece. Here is the story of the curious practice of the United States military honoring men who fought against it in the past, committing treason against the nation they had sworn an oath to protect.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
Braxton Bragg in Confederate uniform. Library of Congress

1. Braxton Bragg, United States Army and Confederate States Army

Braxton Bragg graduated from West Point and accepted a commission into the United States Army in 1837, standing fifth in his class of fifty cadets. He served with distinction in the Seminole War, and further distinguished himself in the Mexican-American War. Though he was unpopular among his fellow officers, Bragg earned respect for the disciplined performance of the troops under his command. He returned to widespread admiration following the war, and in 1856 purchased a large sugar plantation near Thibodeaux, Louisiana. Bragg joined in local politics and government, accepted a commission as a Colonel in the Louisiana Militia, and grew in wealth and influence. At one time he and his wife owned over 100 slaves.

During the Civil War, Bragg renounced his oath and served in the Confederacy, mostly in the western departments. He commanded a corps at the bloody battle of Shiloh, and eventually assumed command of the Army of the Mississippi, later called the Army of Tennessee. He led his forces in several major battles, nearly all of them defeats for the Confederacy, though he did win a morale-boosting victory at the Battle of Chickamauga. Bragg failed to adequately follow up on his victory, and suffered a severe defeat at the subsequent battles for Chattanooga. Regarded by most historians and military scholars as an ineffective leader and tactician, Bragg’s war ended with him having lost the confidence of Confederate military and political leaders, though he remained in the field until captured in May, 1865.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
Airborne troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, during the Vietnam era. National Archives

2. Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Although he has his defenders, most of whom emerged in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Braxton Bragged gained the reputation of being an inept tactician, and a bungler as a general in command of large armies. Regardless, the people of North Carolina regarded him as a hero of the Confederacy, particularly during the revisionist period of the Lost Cause in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His many defeats were forgiven, his victory at Chickamauga hailed by proponents of the Confederacy and its military prowess against the more powerful troops of the Union. In North Carolina Bragg was regarded as a defender of his homeland, rather than a traitor to his country.

In September 1918, during the mobilization of World War I, a military base for the purpose of training artillery units was established near Fayetteville, North Carolina. The US Army’s Chief of Field Artillery, General William Snow, named the new facility Camp Bragg in honor of is fellow artillerist, Braxton Bragg. The naming took place at a time when the US Army practiced segregation, as did North Carolina, at the height of the Jim Crow south. In 1922 Camp Bragg, by then a National Guard training site, became a permanent US Army facility named Fort Bragg.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
Leonidas Polk in bishop’s robes. Library of Congress

3. Leonidas Polk, United States Army, Episcopal Bishop, Confederate States Army

Leonidas Polk’s name is often recorded as including a middle initial “K”. The reference is incorrect, Polk had no middle name, and never signed his name with any initial. He was a distant relative of President James K. Polk. Educated at the United States Military Academy, where he excelled, Polk graduated in the top third of his class and entered the artillery as a second lieutenant. While at the Academy, Polk converted to the Episcopal faith. He remained in the Army for only five months, resigning to enter the Virginia Theological Seminary in late 1827. By the 1840s, Polk resided in Tennessee, on a large plantation worked by over one hundred slaves. The 1850 census records Polk owning over 200 slaves.

Polk became Bishop of Louisiana in 1841, and retained that post until the outbreak of the Civil War. He joined the Confederate Army and had the Louisiana Convention of the Episcopal Church withdrawn from the Episcopal Church of the United States, forming a Confederate equivalent of the latter. He became a corps commander of the CSA, and fought in several major battles of the war, including Shiloh, Stones River, Chickamauga, and the Atlanta Campaign. In general, his performance in command was poor, though he gained immense popularity with the men he commanded. His death during the Atlanta Campaign, a consequence of heavy Union shelling, led to a drop in morale among the beleaguered Confederates.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
US Army artillerymen training at Ft. Polk, Spring, 2020. US Army

4. Fort Polk, Leesville, Louisiana

One of the myths of the Second World War is America’s military was wholly unprepared for war when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. In late 1940, American war planners recognized the need to practice the tactics displayed by the Germans in North Africa and Europe, as well as the Japanese in Asia. A site selected for training using joint operations of mobile armored units, airborne units, close air support, and infantry units developed in the summer of 1941. A series of operations known as the Louisiana Maneuvers prepared over 500,000 American soldiers in Vernon Parish, Louisiana, in August and September in 1941. They were housed on a hastily built installation designated Camp Polk.

Camp Polk continued its role as a training facility throughout World War II, expanding to include a Prisoner of War camp for German soldiers, most of them from the Afrika Korps. Camp Polk continued operating under that name following the end of World War II and through the Korean War. Not until 1955, when the post gained recognition as a permanent Army facility did it gain the name of Fort Polk. Fort Polk retains importance as a major Army training center, including housing the Joint Readiness Training Center, and several combat commands. It also supports several units of the Louisiana National Guard on its almost 200,000 acres of land.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
Robert E. Lee, taken in 1869. Library of Congress

5. Robert E. Lee, United States Army, Confederate States Army

Robert E. Lee was America’s foremost soldier in early 1861, other than perhaps Winfield Scott. Lee earned his reputation as a soldier in the Mexican American War; as an engineer in projects including diverting the Mississippi at St. Louis, and in the construction of several fortifications. His performance as Superintendent at West Point led to his being held in high esteem by the junior officers of the United States Army, a position he held in the minds of most of the officers of his own generation. At Arlington, his wife’s plantation in Virginia as Virginia pondered secession, Lee was offered command of the First Regiment of Cavalry, United States Army, at the rank of Colonel. He accepted.

In doing so Lee took yet another oath of loyalty to the Constitution of the United States as part of accepting his commission. It was one of many he took during his years in the United States Army. The newly inaugurated President, Abraham Lincoln, signed his commission. Less than one month later, in April 1861, Lee resigned his commission, ignored his oath, and accepted a commission in the Army of the Confederate States of America, in command of all the forces of Virginia. Lee’s attitude towards slavery is evident in the fact that during his ownership of Arlington, nearly every slave family on the plantation were broken up by sale or transfer.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
USS Robert E. Lee underway with USS Observation Island in the 1960s. US Navy

6. Military installations and units named for Robert E. Lee

Camp Lee, 25 miles south of Richmond, Virginia, was designated as a mobilization and training site for state troops in June, 1917. Between the world wars, the Commonwealth of Virginia operated the site as a game preserve. In October, 1940, the United States Army reclaimed the site, again designating it Camp Lee, as an Army receiving station and training facility. Facilities at the camp provided training to Army quartermasters and medical personnel throughout the war. Following the war, the site continued to be the Army’s primary location for training quartermasters. In 1950 Camp Lee has designated a permanent Army installation and renamed Fort Lee.

The US Navy named the Polaris ballistic missile submarine USS Robert E. Lee in 1960, in part because it was the first such vessel built in Virginia (Newport News). The submarine had a 23-year career in the United States Navy before decommissioning in 1983. The US Navy also named a guided-missile cruiser, USS Chancellorsville, after the battle considered by most scholars to be Lee’s greatest victory over the United States Army. The cruiser was one of the Ticonderoga class, all but one of which were named for famous battles involving the United States military, several from the Civil War. Only Chancellorsville reflected a battle in which the United States suffered a defeat.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
Troops under Beauregard fired the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter. National Archives

7. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, United States Army, Confederate States Army

He is known today as P. G. T. Beauregard, though in life he seldom used his first initial, signing his name as G. T. Beauregard. A West Point graduate and veteran of the Mexican-American War, Beauregard was twice wounded during the hostilities, where he served as an engineer. In early 1861, Beauregard accepted the appointment as Superintendent at West Point, a position he held for only five days. His orders were rescinded when news of the secession of Louisiana reached Washington in January. The Louisiana-born Beauregard was a supporter of slavery, having been raised in an aristocratic slave-holding family on a sugar plantation outside of New Orleans. He protested his reassignment to the War Department before departing New York for New Orleans.

There he immediately took an advisory role to the budding Confederate military, and was the first general appointed to the Confederate Army, though several generals of state troops preceded him. He arrived in Charleston in March, 1861, and commanded the troops which fired upon Fort Sumter, initiating open warfare between North and South. Known for his flamboyance, he kept slaves throughout the war in his personal retinue. After the war, in which his service frequently angered Jefferson Davis, he expressed outrage over the seizure of his property to create housing for newly freed slaves. In a letter, he expressed his opinion that blacks were wholly inferior to whites, and predicted they would vanish along with the American Indians since they were incapable of adapting to society.

Read More: Life of a Prisoner at Camp Sumter During the Civil War.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
A Christian Science Wartime Relief facility at Camp Beauregard, WWI. Wikimedia

8. Camp Beauregard, Pineville, Louisiana

The United States Army established Camp Beauregard in 1917 as a training and mobilization site during the First World War. At the same time, the Army established the 17th Division, containing several units of infantry, which trained in preparation for deployment to France. The 17th division did not deploy during the course of the war, and in 1919 the Army demobilized at Camp Beauregard. The Army turned the facility over to the State of Louisiana the same year. Returned to Army control in 1940, Camp Beauregard expanded into an important training facility. It supported the Louisiana Maneuvers prior to US entry into World War II and continued to expand throughout the war.

After World War II Camp Beauregard again returned to Louisiana control, as a National Guard facility for two years, before deactivation. It returned to active status in 1973, underwent extensive modernization, and became an important training center for infantry and engineering commands. The 225th Engineer Brigade component of the Louisiana National Guard, one of the largest engineering commands of the United States Army National Guard, established its headquarters at Camp Beauregard. Camp Beauregard is sometimes confused with a Civil War-era Confederate camp of the same name, established in Kentucky in 1861. That camp became so disease-ridden that Confederate Colonel Thomas Logwood, ordered it abandoned and burned.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
John Bell Hood, one of Lee’s most trusted generals. National Archives

9. John Bell Hood, United States Army, Confederate States Army

Kentucky born John Bell Hood used well-placed family connections to obtain an appointment to West Point, entering the class of 1853. At the time Robert E. Lee served as Superintendent of the Academy. Hood performed indifferently in academics, finishing 44th in the class of 52, and narrowly avoided expulsion over disciplinary issues. In his final year, he collected 196 demerits, with 200 the threshold for expulsion. Following graduation, he served in the cavalry in Texas, fought against the Comanche, and acquired the first of many wounds he sustained in his military career. When Texas seceded and his native Kentucky did not, Hood joined the Confederate troops in the former state.

Hood saw action in most of the major battles fought by the Army of Northern Virginia through Gettysburg, where he lost the use of his left arm from a wound. After recovering, he commanded a division at Chickamauga, where another wound necessitated the amputation of his right leg. He returned to action for the Atlanta campaign, during which in a letter to his opponent, William Tecumseh Sherman, he wrote that the Union intended to “place over us an inferior race, which we have raised from barbarism to its present position, which is the highest ever attained by that race, in any country in all time”. Hood surrendered himself in Natchez, Mississippi, in May 1865, accepting a pardon at the time.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
Darnall Hospital at Fort Hood, Texas. US Army

10. Fort Hood, Killeen, Texas

At the beginning of World War II, the United States Army created several new training camps across the country, naming them “distinguished” military leaders from American history. The Army, then segregated, christened several such camps with the names of officers who fought for the Confederacy in the southern states, as a means of “reconciliation”. It repeated a process from the days of the First World War. Camp Hood, which offered the wide-open spaces needed for the testing, training, and development of tactics for tank destroyers, entered service in 1942, named for Confederate General John Bell Hood.

Camp Hood continued to operate as an armored vehicle training center following the war, and in 1950 was renamed Fort Hood in recognition of its permanent status. Over the years it expanded into many other roles and acquired more land. Its importance to the United States Army and its size made it the target of numerous anti-war demonstrations during the Vietnam War and subsequent operations conducted by the United States military. It has also been the target of protests over its use of the name of John Bell Hood, who fought against the United States and expressed his racial views openly and frequently, to the detriment of blacks.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
Rucker was wounded at the Battle of Nashville, December, 1864. Library of Congress

11. Edmund W. Rucker, Confederate States Army

Unlike many of the senior officers of the Confederate States Army, Edmund Rucker did not attend the United States Military Academy, nor serve in the Army prior to the Civil War. He served as the City Engineer at Memphis, Tennessee when that state seceded, and enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861. He first served as a miner, later in the artillery, and later still in the cavalry. For the latter, he served under the infamous Nathan Bedford Forrest. At the Battle of Nashville, Rucker suffered a severe wound which led to his capture by Union troops. Union doctors amputated his left arm and sent him to a prisoner of war camp at Johnson’s Island near Sandusky, Ohio.

After a prisoner of war exchange arranged by Nathan Bedford Forrest, Rucker returned to his unit and continued to serve until it surrendered in Alabama in May, 1865. Following the war, Rucker became a leading businessman in Birmingham, Alabama. He maintained close ties with former Confederate Generals Joseph Johnston, and Nathan Bedford Forrest. He received an honorary title of General from his former colleagues and used it in some correspondence. Whether Rucker joined Bedford Forrest in the Ku Klux Klan remains a matter of conjecture and debate among scholars, there is anecdotal evidence that he did, as well as he did not.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
Fort Rucker has long been the center of helicopter training for the US Army and other branches. Wikimedia

12. Fort Rucker, Southeast Alabama

In early 1942, a site in the southeastern corner of Alabama selected by the Army for a training facility received the designation of Ozark Triangular Division Camp. The less than snappy name became Camp Rucker before the site opened in May, 1942. In late summer of the same year, additional land acquired to create an airfield for the camp, was named Ozark Army Airfield, a name it kept until 1959. Camp Rucker served as a training facility for infantry, at the division level and for smaller units, throughout the war. It also trained replacements bound for duty in both Europe and the Pacific, and provided training for Women’s Army Corps recruits.

Camp Rucker also served as a prisoner of war camp for Italian and German POWs during the war. Inactivated following World War II, it returned to service during the Korean War. Basic training for replacements sent to Korea was provided by the 47th Infantry Division of the Minnesota National Guard through most of the Korean War. The Army renamed the camp Fort Rucker in 1955. Since 1973, Army aviation training has been centered at Fort Rucker, and helicopter pilots and crews from other services and allied nations have been part of the role of the post. Former Tennessee Senator and Vice President of the United States Al Gore spent part of his Army service at Fort Rucker.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
General Henry Lewis Benning. University of Georgia School of Law

13. Henry Lewis Benning, Confederate States Army

Henry Lewis Benning did not attend West Point or serve in the United States Army before the Civil War. He had no military experience whatsoever when he received a political appointment as a Colonel of infantry, raising his own regiment, the 17th Georgia infantry. He was a virulent supporter of slavery and an ardent supporter of the superiority of whites over blacks. A noted jurist in antebellum Georgia and an associate justice of the state’s Supreme Court, he addressed the Virginia secession convention in 1861, informing the delegates, “that a separation from the North was the only thing that could prevent the abolition of slavery”. Benning warned the convention that if slavery were abolished, “We will be completely exterminated, and the land will be left in the possession of the blacks, and then it will go back to a wilderness and become another Africa…”

He served with distinction during the war, though the lawyer in him couldn’t resist his challenging the decisions of his superiors and the Confederate government, including disputing the Conscription Act as illegal. He was severely wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, but returned to action and was with the Army of Northern Virginia when it surrendered at Appomattox in April, 1865. Benning’s family, including his wife and their Georgia plantation, provided Margaret Mitchell with the inspiration for many of the characters in Gone With the Wind, including the O’Hara and Wilkes families. Benning continued to oppose civil rights for blacks after the war, working as an attorney in Columbus, Georgia for the remainder of his life.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
Construction at Fort Benning between the World Wars. US Army

14. Fort Benning, Columbus, Georgia

Initially established as a camp for state troops in 1909, the United States Army activated Camp Benning in October, 1918, to provide infantry training. It quickly expanded to tank training as well; one of its early arrivals was Dwight David Eisenhower in December. He remained at Camp Benning until March, 1919. By 1920 the Army had decided to create a permanent establishment for the training of infantry at the site, and in 1942 renamed it Fort Benning, after Confederate General Henry Lewis Benning. Another famous American military officer to serve at the post between the World Wars, George C. Marshall, acted as assistant commandant in the late 1920s. Marshall developed new methods of infantry training in response to the high casualty rates of the First World War.

Past commanders of the post include Omar Bradley and Courtney Hodges, who served in the US Army from 1906 to 1949, rising from the rank of private to general over the course of his career. Fort Benning has been a site for infantry training since it first opened in 1918, and over the course of its long service has also been a site for armored vehicle training, urban combat training, airborne training, and additional army schools and duty posts. It also provided the site for the training of Scout Dogs during the Vietnam War, used to detect potential ambushes. The dogs received their initial training at Fort Benning, before deploying to Vietnam to receive handlers and additional training for operations in the field.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
Post-war photograph of John Brown Gordon. Wikimedia

15. John Brown Gordon, Confederate States Army

Like Henry Benning, John Brown Gordon was an attorney by trade, with no military experience prior to joining the Alabama infantry, elected as a Captain of his company. The son of a planter and raised on a slave-holding plantation, Gordon held the common opinion of his class regarding the inferiority of the black race. He served with distinction in numerous battles of the Army of Northern Virginia, including at Antietam, where he received five serious wounds while helping hold the road which acquired the name “Bloody Lane”. When he returned to service after recovery of several months, he received a promotion to brigadier general, at Lee’s request. Gordon fought in several campaigns, including the Valley Campaign in 1864, and was present at the surrender at Appomattox in 1865.

Post-war he entered politics, opposed reconstruction, and either joined the Ku Klux Klan or another secret society such as the White League or the Red Shirts. In testimony before Congress in 1871, Gordon denied membership in the Klan but admitted he had been a member of a secret organization which intended the “preservation of peace” in Georgia. Some scholars believe he led the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia, others dispute the allegation based on some of his philanthropic activities. He served in the US Senate and as Governor of Georgia, and made a considerable fortune through investment in railroads and other emerging industries in the south, though he vehemently opposed equal rights for blacks.

Continue Reading: John Brown Is Hanged (1859)

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
World War II era troops at Fort Gordon could purchase cards like this one to send to loved ones. Wikimedia

16. Fort Gordon, Augusta, Georgia

The first Camp Gordon, established at Chamblee, Georgia during World War I, included among its trainees, Sgt. Alvin York. Following the armistice, Camp Gordon closed. In July, 1941, a new division training camp authorized by the US Army began construction near Augusta, designated Camp Gordon by the Army. The name was in honor of Confederate Major General John Brown Gordon, who led troops against the United States Army in the Civil War, and joined a secret anti-black society during reconstruction. Camp Gordon, in addition to training troops for deployment overseas, served as a prisoner of war facility from 1943 – 1945.

Beginning in the 1950s and into the 1970s, basic training (boot camp) took place at Fort Gordon (renamed in 1956), as well as other forms of training for infantry and communications. Until the mid-1970s military police trained at the site. The United States Army Signal Corps and the Army Cyber Corps have been based at Fort Gordon, as is the Cyber Center for Excellence. It has been the site of several protests over the years, including over the Vietnam War, working conditions at facilities within the base, and over its name.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
His own troops mistakenly fired on Jackson as he reconnoitered, mortally wounding him in 1863. Wikimedia

17. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, United States Army, Confederate States Army

Born in Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia) Thomas J. Jackson was raised by an uncle following the death of his father. Though a violation of Virginia law at the time, the young Jackson taught a slave owned by his uncle to read and write. The slave successfully escaped via the Underground Railroad after becoming literate. Though Jackson himself was mostly self-educated he successfully completed the entrance examination to West Point, and entered the class of 1846. He fought with the United States Army in Mexico, remained with the army for a short time following the war, and in the 1850s accepted a position as a professor at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington.

Although Jackson supported the idea of educating blacks, both slave and free, he also owned slaves. During the Civil War, he famously supported the Confederacy as one of Lee’s most able battlefield commanders and tacticians. Jackson was known for his various eccentricities, such as sucking on lemons in battle and standing for long periods to align his internal organs. No general or Confederate corps generated more fear in the Union troops opposing him than his. His tactics and leadership resulted in several major Union defeats, including First and Second Bull Run, the Valley Campaign, and Chancellorsville, though wounds received during the latter led to his death in May, 1863.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
USS Stonewall Jackson loading Polaris missiles in 1967. US Navy

18. USS Stonewall Jackson, SSBN 634

USS Stonewall Jackson, commissioned in August 1964, was one of the Polaris and Poseidon submarines built as the Navy’s “41 for Freedom” submerged ballistic missile fleet. Two earlier ships bearing the name Stonewall built for the Navy honored the General who had fought the forces of the United States. Stonewall Jackson originally carried the Polaris missile and operated in the Pacific, out of Apra, Guam. After five years of strategic patrols, conducted by the ship’s two crews (Blue and Gold), Stonewall Jackson returned to the east coast and entered the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut for conversion to carry the longer-ranged and more powerful Poseidon missile.

Stonewall Jackson was not the sole Confederate leader honored with his name assigned to a US Naval warship. USS Robert E. Lee and USS John Calhoun honored southerners who dedicated their lives to the continuation of slavery and white supremacy as well. Both were submarines. Stonewall Jackson continued to operate in the Atlantic for the most part for the rest of its career, interspersed with shipyard overhauls as needed. In 1995 the submarine decommissioned and entered the recycling program for scrapping. The Navy continues to operate the cruiser, USS Chancellorsville, which honors Jackson and Lee’s greatest victory, a battle in which the United States suffered over 12,000 casualties.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
One of Lee’s most trusted lieutenants, A. P. Hill did not survive the war. Wikimedia

19. Ambrose Powell Hill, United States Army, Confederate States Army

A. P. Hill graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1847. He attended the Academy at a time when such notables as Stonewall Jackson, George Pickett, George McClellan, Jesse Reno and other famed soldiers of the Civil War and the Plains Wars were cadets there. Hill did not distinguish himself in the areas of academics and discipline, contracting a venereal disease while on leave, which left him with recurring health problems for the rest of his life. He served in the Seminole and Mexican-American wars following graduation, after which he acted as a military adjutant to the Coastal Survey until 1860. In March, 1861, he resigned his army commission and accepted appointment as a Colonel of infantry in his native Virginia.

In 1862, Hill accepted promotion to Brigadier General in the Confederate States Army. He grew to become one of the ablest brigade and later division commanders in the army, serving with the corps commanded by Stonewall Jackson. Jackson and Hill did not get along well personally, though their professional partnership proved devastating to Union troops in multiple battles. After Jackson was killed at Chancellorsville, Hill took command of his corps. Hill was killed in action as the Confederate defenses at Petersburg crumbled in 1865, and is buried in Richmond, Virginia, beneath a monument erected to honor him in 1892.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
Lodge at Fort A. P. Hill in 1941. US Army

20. Fort A. P. Hill, Bowling Green, Virginia

As the United States Army expanded in 1941, the need for a new training site for corps and division-size units on the East Coast arose. The site selected, in Caroline County, Virginia, first received Army troops in the summer of 1941. The Army considered three names for the new facility. James McAndrews, a career officer who rose to the rank of Major General in the United States Army and served with distinction in World War I was one. Another was John Hunt Morgan, a Confederate general of cavalry, who led a raid into Indiana and Ohio during the Civil War, reaching the furthest north of any Confederate troops during the war. In the end, the army settled on Morgan’s brother-in-law, Ambrose Powell Hill.

The Army elected to name the new post Fort A. P. Hill at a time when new installations around the country drew names from regional soldiers or local heroes. Hill was a native of Virginia, having been born in Culpeper. The fact that many of the new posts’ names were from men who fought against the United States was simply not considered at the time. Fort A. P. Hill trained American troops for combat in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and prepared them for deployment to Europe during the Cold War. It is used by all branches of the US military, as well as branches of law enforcement. It also provides training to troops and agencies of America’s allies.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
George Pickett, for whom Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg was named. Library of Congress

21. George Pickett, United States Army, Confederate States Army

George Pickett descended from an old and established Virginia dynasty, raised on his family’s plantation estate at Turkey Island, near Richmond. He was an ardent defender of slavery, and studied law briefly in Springfield, Illinois, where he consulted with then State Representative Abraham Lincoln. Legend has it that Lincoln secured Pickett’s appointment to West Point as part of the class of 1846, though the story is false. As a state representative, no appointments were available for the future President. Pickett graduated last in his class, and accepted a commission in the infantry, served in the Mexican-American War gained national fame for his exploits, and remained in the Army through the antebellum period.

His most famous exploit during the Civil War, in which he rose to command a division with the rank of major general, was the charge he led on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Pickett’s Charge led to casualties of over 50% for the Confederates, though it became known to some romanticists as the high-water mark of the Confederacy. After Gettysburg, while in North Carolina, Pickett ordered the execution of 22 prisoners of war, claiming they were deserters from a North Carolina regiment who had gone over to the Union. The war crime forced Pickett to flee to Canada following the war, fearing prosecution. He remained in Canada for over a year before receiving word that the matter had been dropped by the US Army investigators.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
Other branches use Fort Pickett’s facilities for training, such as these Navy river patrol boats. US Navy

22. Fort Pickett, Blackstone, Virginia

Originally designated Camp Pickett, Fort Pickett was built on a former Civilian Conservation Corps site in early 1942. The Army dedicated the site on July 3, 1942, at 3 PM, exactly 79 years to the hour following the launching of Pickett’s Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. Large enough to train two full divisions simultaneously, the site continued to expand throughout the Second World War. Pickett’s name was selected for the site because he was a Virginian, and like many of the Confederate officers of the Civil War, he had been lionized in the years which followed the conflict. Though known for his flamboyance and flaunting of regulations by his fellow officers, his surviving family had created a reputation of the perfect Southern officer and gentlemen, not wholly deserved.

Camp Pickett survived many threats to close it down over the years, though it gained designation as Fort Pickett in 1974. Its training facilities are used by the National Guard, active-duty military units, the Virginia State Police, other Virginia law enforcement agencies, and the US Marshal Service, among many other agencies. In 1995 the active-duty Army garrison deactivated and the Virginia National Guard assumed responsibility for operation of the post in 1997. Fort Pickett, Fort Lee, and Fort A. P. Hill give Virginia more bases named for Confederate leaders – 3 – than any other state, with all three named for natives of the Commonwealth who swore multiple oaths of loyalty to the United States, only to violate them in 1861.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
USS John C. Calhoun, named for the secessionist and former vice-president. US Navy

23. Why the US military dedicated installations to former enemies of the United States

Following the Civil War American troops remained in the South as an occupying Army throughout the period known as Reconstruction. Throughout the region, resentment against the occupying forces festered. When the last occupying forces withdrew from the South in 1877, divisive issues remained. Southern legislatures enacted the laws ushering in the era of Jim Crow. Backlash against the North emerged in the revision of history known as the Lost Cause, as Confederate leaders in the military and politics became lionized as heroic, noble opponents against a tyrannical and overreaching federal government.

Symbols of the Confederacy became symbols of freedom in much of the white South, and opposition to the United States continued. World War 1 began at the height of the Lost Cause era. In order to establish reconciliation with white southern politicians and civic leaders at the outset of the First World War, US Army officials established Camps recognizing the Confederate military leaders. By then many had become mythologized as fighters for freedom and liberty, the true defenders of the values expressed in the Declaration of Independence. In the interim between the World Wars, the Lost Cause gained acceptance throughout the North as well as in the Old South, and leaders such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were judged on the their achievements in battle, rather than their rejection of their oaths to defend the United States.

The US Military Named Bases and Ships for Confederate Leaders
President Truman’s Executive Order 9981, ordering desegregation of the US Military. Wikimedia

24. The military was segregated when it named bases for Confederates

The US Army practiced strict segregation during the First and Second World Wars and during the period in between. The closest thing the Army had to an integrated unit was the United States Military Academy at West Point, which admitted the first black cadet in 1870 (he failed to graduate). The first to graduate and accept a commission in the Army was Henry Ossian Flipper in 1877. He was assigned to a segregated unit, the 10th Cavalry, one of the units known as the Buffalo Soldiers. When the Army created new facilities named for Confederate leaders their was little if any, resistance from African-Americans, either in the military or elsewhere. In fact, strong support emerged from Southern politicians and community leaders.

President Truman, himself a Southerner, ended segregation in the United States Army by executive order in 1948, but years went by before integration became a reality. Opposition to the names of military bases first emerged during the protests over Civil Rights in the 1950s and 1960s. The issue faded during the Vietnam War, only to re-emerge in the late 20th and early 21st century, along with protests over display of the Confederate battle flag, and the existence of monuments and memorials to men who led the fight to uphold slavery in the United States. In the early 21st century the US military took steps to prohibit the display of the Confederate flag or its image in any form, including on license plates, bumper stickers, and tee shirts. The prohibition extends to bases named for the leaders who fought under that flag.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

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“Fort Bragg History”. Article, U.S. Army History, Fort Bragg. Online

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“The Making and the Breaking of the Legend of Robert E. Lee”. Eric Foner, The New York Times. August 28, 2017

“41 for Freedom”. Article, Submarine Force Library and Museum. Online

“P. G. T. Beauregard”. Article, National Park Service. Online

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“Fort Hood”. Frederick L. Briuer, Texas State Historical Association. Online

“Civil War High Commands”. John H. Eicher, David J. Eicher. 2001

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“Henry L. Benning”. Charles Pou, New Georgia Encyclopedia. 2011 (updated 2022)

“Fort Benning”. Beryl Diamond, New Georgia Encyclopedia. 2003 (updated 2022)

“John B. Gordon”. Biography, American Battlefield Trust. Online

“Fort Gordon”. Mark Dunn, New Georgia Encyclopedia. 2005 (Updated 2022)

“Lost Victories: The Military Genius of Stonewall Jackson”. Bevin Alexander, 2004

“Stonewall Jackson (SSBN-634)”. Article, Naval History and Heritage Command. Online

“A. P. Hill”. Biography, American Battlefield Trust. Online

“U. S. Army Garrison Fort A. P. Hill”. United States Army. Online

“George E. Pickett”. Biography, American Battlefield Trust. Online

“History of Fort Pickett”. Article, Military Bases. Online

“How the Army might rename Confederate installations”. Sarah Sicard, Army Times. June 20, 2020

“The Integration of the Armed Forces 1940-1965”. Morris MacGregor Jr. U. S. Army Center of Military History. 1981 (updated 2001)