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)

 

5 thoughts on “The ‘Misplaced Honor’ of Fort Bragg and Fort Polk”

  1. This was an interesting article, it almost makes me want to renew my subscription to the New York Times (money issues, not editorial issues right now!) I knew something about Gen. Bragg, but was not aware of Rev. Polk and his military contributions to the war (ouch to his method of demise!). Does anyone know of any books or documents on Gen. Bragg that I can read to get to know him better, the first mention of him that I read was Kate Cumming’s Journal and how he was not that well liked by his men (and some of the nurses also!)

  2. Hi there! The NCC has a few volumes on General Braxton Bragg: http://search.lib.unc.edu/search?Ntt=braxton+bragg&Ntk=Keyword&Nty=1

    Some of these titles are available online, for instance Seitz’s General of the Confederacy, found here catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000603287, and a limited preview of Samuel J. Martin’s recent biography, General Braxton Bragg, C.S.A., (http://books.google.com/books?id=oPyswIt41YsC&dq=braxton+bragg&source=gbs_navlinks_s), which interestingly argues against characterizations that label Bragg as “irascible, ineffective, [and] argumentative.” These titles might be good to search for at your local library!

  3. Did it ever occur to this misguided, revisionist, PC soul that the U.S. government never recognized the Confederacy, and that therefore, every Confederate soldier killed was an AMERICAN citizen who was slain by his own government?

    You can’t have it both ways–either the Federal insistence that secession was illegal, and the “rebels” who were killed were therefore U.S. citizens, or the Confederacy was a legitimate nation, whose soldiers were a threat to U.S. sovereignty and therefore legal targets (and vice versa), based on the established rules of war. So which is it?

    No matter what you choose to believe, all of the belligerents in the Civil War (or War Between the States, if you prefer) were AMERICANS. Full stop.

    Each and every one of these Southern leaders who are being honored by having military bases (and streets, and parks, and towns) named after them yielded–often with great remorse–to their convictions and ethical beliefs. That is something to be celebrated; they are exemplars of the very principles upon which our nation was founded. And oh please don’t bring the dreaded *suh-lav-ery* issue into the discussion, or we’ll have to disown most of the Founding Fathers as well.

    LET IT BE.

    Mr. Malankowski said disingenuously: “Changing the names of these bases would not mean that we can’t still respect the service of those Confederate leaders; nor would it mean that we are imposing our notions of morality on people of a long-distant era.” Of course this is utter nonsense, since that’s *exactly* what it would mean. Why on earth would it be appropriate to “respect the service” of those supporters of the dreaded slavocracy, but not in this particular way? Surely, it won’t be long before Malankowski is petitioning for the removal of statues honoring Confederate soldiers and generals, never mind displaying that horrid Confederate flag.

    The Civil War is over. We all understand that. Honoring Confederate soldiers and their leaders is paying due respect to a very real part of our heritage. Mr. Malankowski, KEEP YOUR REVISIONIST MITTS TO YOURSELF. Whether we agree or not is irrelevant. These men are all honorable AMERICANS, and all deserve respect for their dedication to their principles and their sacrifices.

    I wonder how Malankowski feels about the fact that U.S. generals–Phil Sheridan comes to mind–pursued a malevolent, carefully executed program of genocide against the First Peoples, whose only crime was to be “in the way” of the American lust for more land, riches, and
    power? Those indigenous peoples were also AMERICANS. And what of the U.S. soldiers who killed striking AMERICAN miners in the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921? Or the senseless slaughter of college kids at Kent State in 1970? The U.S. military has plenty of blood on its hands, so please don’t bullsh*t me by whitewashing the past to suit your political agenda, Mr. Malankowski.

    Let’s get past this silliness and act like adults, shall we? America is in the toilet and we don’t need such useless distractions. God knows, we’ve got bigger fish to fry…

    coda: Were Rommel and Cornwallis Americans? I forget…

  4. I have to say, that was a well worded and articulate response to the left leaning article. It never ceases to amaze me how liberals can find a way to misinterpret historical fact and publish their revisionist versions as to redefine history in a way they prefer it to be (not surprising it was in the NY Times). Both sides of the American civil war felt their patriotic duty to stand up and fight for what they believed in. All were patriots in their own right and all were Americans. There is an old saying, we must learn from history lest we are destined to repeat it. I am very concerned that we are currently headed down another divisive path. the country is once again split nearly 50/50 on policy and direction. We have drifted so far away from the what the framers of the constitution intended and drafted in our founding document that the republic is barely recognizable. The driving force of the conflict in 1860 may be different but the root cause was very much the same as what we see today. An ever increasing central government that is surpressing the rights of the individual citizen and the individual state. If our elected leaders do not start to see the end result of the path we are on – we are destined to repeat the past. I feel it is high time for a new modern constitutional convention.
    I hope others can begin to see the precibus we face and shout from every roof, and every online blog – we the people demand our rights be not ignored.

  5. Could it Be that fort Bragg was named after a Union General Edward Bragg of the 6th Wisconsin Regiment? and latter revised.

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