“There are still 10 Army bases in the United States named for Confederate generals, and military officials have no plans to change the names….
“One [such] ‘fort’ might (but probably won’t) be undergoing a name-change soon: Fort Bragg, a coastal city in Mendocino County, California, which was founded as a military garrison in 1857.
“Like Fort Bragg in North Carolina, it was named for [Warrenton native] Braxton Bragg. The big difference? When California’s Fort Bragg got its name, the South hadn’t seceded yet and Bragg hadn’t defected to the Confederate army. So while the town’s name still honors Bragg, you can’t say it was named to honor Confederate General Bragg. That detail might save it from new rules proposed by California Senate Bill 539, which would ban and expunge from state property the names of people ‘associated’ with the Confederacy.
“It’s a different story in North Carolina.
“The Army base [near Fayetteville] was established as Camp Bragg in 1918. More than half a century earlier, Bragg had overseen the killing of U.S. Army soldiers….”
— From “The U.S. military’s disgraceful devotion to the Confederacy” by Timothy McGrath at GlobalPost (via Salon, July 12)
This earlier condemnation of Confederate-named Army bases cited not only Bragg, but also Raleigh-born Leonidas 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)
“Leonidas L. Polk, president of the Southern Alliance and a former Confederate colonel, best expressed the white Alliance leadership’s perspective regarding… the proposed cotton pickers’ strike. Not for one moment, he declared through his paper the Progressive Farmer, did he ‘hesitate to advise our farmers to leave their cotton in the field rather than pay more than 50 cents per hundred [pounds] to have it picked.’ Polk went on to accuse the organizers of the strike of trying ‘to better their condition at the expense of their white brethren’…
“[Polk’s] double standard reveals just how divorced white landowners were from — indeed in direct opposition to — the mostly landless African Americans who comprised the base of Black Populism.”
— From “In the Lion’s Mouth: Black Populism in the New South, 1886-1900” by UNC Greensboro historian Omar H. Ali (2010)
Polk’s house, restored circa 1890 and most recently resituated to Blount Street in Raleigh, opened to the public this week.
— Click away a leisurely afternoon with these 206 images of Asheville from the Library of Congress.
— “The Nylon Capital of the World… need not embellish its past with a bogus story about Leonidas Polk.”
— The distinctive architecture of Gaston County’s oldest building “came down the Great Wagon Road.”
— Hugh McColl Jr.
recalls “the most boring city I’d ever seen in my life.” (Relax, Raleigh, he’s not talking about you.)