…Patch on my Shoulder…

By Kevin Shannahan/Opinion

“May you live in interesting times.” Our times today, while not as interesting as those in, say 1914, 1939, or 1861, nonetheless well bear out this illustrative, if apocryphal, Chinese curse. One longstanding issue, regretfully overshadowed by subsequent riots and the continuing pandemic, is that there are several military bases throughout the country named after Confederate leaders. That the U.S. Army has a fort named after Robert E. Lee and not Ulysses S. Grant, William Sherman or any of the other generals on the winning side at Appomattox has always amazed me. Even odder, none of the Army posts, save Fort Lee, were named after particularly competent Confederate leaders.

It is unfortunate that proposals to rename the bases are getting caught up with the heavy handed, and occasionally asinine, tearing down of statues and memorials. Attacking a statue of Abraham Lincoln freeing a slave, a statue paid for by freed slaves themselves and dedicated by Frederick Douglass in a ceremony attended by President Grant, would be amusingly paradoxical were it not for the accompanying atmosphere of violence.

It is equally unfortunate that the calls to rename the forts have also been overshadowed by the rioting in various cities across the nation. It is a depressing sign of our nation’s descent into historical illiteracy that one may see more Soviet flags being carried by Antifa in Portland and Seattle than in Moscow’s Red Square on Mayday. Where do they get them from now that the Soviet Union is no longer a going concern? Did some zampolit in the Red Army see a market opportunity some 30 years ago and snap up a supply? Did Antifa ring up the Russian embassy and offer to help clear out the attic? Some of the images of burned out cars, fire and destruction are more reminiscent of Beirut than of an American city.

The proposal to rename the Army installations has slipped from the news cycle. By comparison to riots, fires and what would be quite an impromptu laser show, were the people wielding them not attempting to blind police officers, footage of the front gate of Ft. Benning is dull by contrast and likely to remain so, an Army post being an unwise target for staging a riot. The news moves on in a relentless search for ratings.

Rename the installations. The decision was wrong to name them after Confederate officers and leaders when they were built. It is only become more improper over the intervening years.

Lee, Polk, Bragg, Rucker, Benning, Beauregard and the others all have a commonality that make them unworthy of having an installation of the United States’ Army named after them. They not only took up arms against their nation, they were leaders in the Confederacy. In the case of those that were serving military officers before the Civil War, they not only took up arms against their nation, they betrayed their oaths as military officers to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…” Revisionist historians of the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy have remade Robert E. Lee into a saintly, larger than life figure, the very embodiment of nobility and honor. I am somewhat surprised there are no stained-glass renditions of him sporting a butternut colored halo. Nonsense! The moment these men donned a Confederate uniform, fought against the nation they had sworn allegiance to and led other men into battle against the United States, they lost the moral authority to a place of honor, of having a fort named after them.

Politicians have argued that the names should not change as generations of American heroes came from them in our nation’s time of need. That line of reasoning is not entirely correct. The Infantrymen who have served the United States in Battle since WWI may have come from Fort Benning, but they were not of Fort Benning. They served in the Big Red One, the 82nd & 101st Airborne, the Ranger Battalions and other units. The jody call whose refrain is “…patch on my shoulder…” does not mention Fort Benning, the patch on my shoulder is of the Infantry units.

“I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies.” None of the men of the Confederacy the forts are named after could say that line from the Infantryman’s Creed. Rename the Forts!

18 thoughts on “…Patch on my Shoulder…

  1. Before the War Between the States it was the United States “are” and after the Civil War it was the United States “is”. Of course all of this is not about things named after Confederate Generals and if you think it is then you are a fool……By the way Louis and Anna were slavers and so was St Denis so let the renaming begin but just understand this is just the beginning. Oh yea, about half the streets in Natchitoches will need renaming.

    • First thing is that there would not have been a United States of America at least not one that consisted of any state from Maryland south if the individual states did not believe that were autonomous and had the right to succeed from the Union. The biggest irony of all of this is that the very same people screaming the loudest today about Confederate soldiers and generals being traitors are the same people that are now saying that America first Nationalist are evil and xenophobic and that America itself is irredeemable and deserves to be destroyed so as to usher in a globalist new world with no borders.

  2. Just to be fair:… “they not only took up arms against their nation, they betrayed their oaths as military officers to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; ” that part of the oath of office did not come into existence until after the War.

  3. Current day people & their descendants have no reason to apologize. Since the south rejoined the nation we have served gallantly under the “Stars & Stripes” in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, & anywhere the USA fights. Who wouldn’t be proud?

    Action at Whitney’s Lane In Arkansas, 1862.

    On May 10, Roane sent Texas cavalry scouts to determine the federal position. The scouts encountered civilians fleeing the Union Army. These refugees reported the Union forces comprised about 30,000 German Mercenaries (paid to fight for the Union).

    Scouting parties reported the movement of these companies to Colonel Emory Rogers, commander of approximately 150 horse soldiers of the 12th Texas Calvary and local volunteers. 300 additional Confederate troops were on the way as Rogers decided to attack immediately though he was outnumbered. He divided his forces into groups of Texans and Arkansans and ordered a mounted charge down the lane.

    The initial charge overran the Yankee Company H of the 17th Missouri, which dissolved under fire and fled toward Company F, which was attempting to set up a defensive position in a treeline. The combined companies fought bravely for a few minutes as more Confederates came up to press them. The untrained and undisciplined Texans and local volunteers attacked furiously, and in some cases ignored Union soldiers’ attempts to surrender. Within a short time, Company F had been routed as well.

  4. Thank you, Kevin, for stating my thoughts exactly. I’ll never forget my first experience at the Christmas Festival parade when I saw the Confederate reenactment. I was appalled! All I could think was that these people were honoring people who were fighting against the United States of America and glorifying slavery!

  5. The naming of forts and camps was designed to bring the war to a close (up to 50 years after Antietam). Now we are past that and it is time for some name changes to remember the leaders of more recent wars. We have a century of wars from which to choose.

  6. Thank you for showing us that we need to stop glorifying a war that the south was deeply in the wrong. Please let this horror be buried for ever. Change names, remove statues, rename army posts and discard the confederate flag and stop with reinacting these events. Our nations citizens(former slaves) are so offended by our southern civil war insensitive actions and yet we do not listen to their pain. Love thy neighbor.

    • Do you feel the same about Biden ? He didn’t want school integration and voted against it . He said Senator Robert KKK Byrd was a great person . So I guess Biden should be removed from running . Right ?

    • Interestingly, Camp Beauregard in Pineville was originally the Louisiana Seminary of Learning and Military Academy. Established in the late 1850s, it had as its first superintendent William Tecumseh Sherman.

    • Sherman was a US general who burned many homes on his march to Atlanta. He waged unconditional war.

  7. Well written as always. The final quote was a good bottom line for your stand on a topic many find divisive. Good journalism in my opinion. Salute.

    • Sounds like a carpetbagger wrote this. These were great soldiers who fought for what they believed to be a just cause. Leave them and their honorable service be. I have no shame in being the great great grandson of a Confederate officer.

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