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The ‘Misplaced Honor’ of Fort Bragg and Fort Polk

“In the complex and not entirely complete process of reconciliation after the Civil War… the idea that ‘now, we are all Americans’ served to whitewash the actions of the rebels. The most egregious example of this was the naming of United States Army bases after Confederate generals.

“Today there are at least 10 of them. Yes — the United States Army maintains bases named after generals who led soldiers who fought and killed United States Army soldiers; indeed, who may have killed such soldiers themselves….

“Not all the honorees were even good generals; many were mediocrities or worse. [Warrenton native] Braxton Bragg, for whom Fort Bragg in North Carolina is named, was irascible, ineffective, argumentative with subordinates and superiors alike, and probably would have been replaced before inflicting half the damage that he caused had he and President Jefferson Davis not been close friends. Fort Polk in Louisiana is named after [Raleigh native] Rev. Leonidas Polk, who abandoned his military career after West Point for the clergy. He became an Episcopal bishop, owned a large plantation and several hundred slaves, and joined the Confederate Army when the war began. His frequently disastrous service ended when he was split open by a cannonball….”

– From “Misplaced Honor” by Jamie Malanowski in the New York Times (May 26, 2013)