FORT BENNING Ga. (WTVM) - On the heels of nationwide protests against racial injustice following the death of George Floyd, U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy is reportedly open to renaming military bases named after Confederate generals, which includes Fort Benning.
At least 10 major Army bases and installations bear the names of Confederate military commanders, like Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Hood in Texas. Some could see a name change. On that list is Fort Benning. It’s named after Brigader General Henry L. Benning who served under Robert E. Lee and fought with the Confederates between 1863 and 1865.
He's also one of the Confederate soldiers buried at Linwood Cemetery in Columbus, where officials there gave us a history lesson when we talked to them years ago.
“Henry Benning was the general of the 17th Georgia Infantry. He was a lawyer and later became a Supreme Court justice. If you'‘re ever in the infantry and you know Fort Benning, this is where General Henry Lewis Benning is buried,” said Historic Linwood Cemetery rep. Jane Brady years ago.
As Army officials in 2020 reportedly seek bipartisan support to change the names of certain installations, which they don’t plan to do unilaterally, Fort Benning leaders said they “support our Army senior leaders’ decision to be part of this national conversation.”
To put it into perspective, rewind back to 1863. General Henry Benning was at the Battle of Gettysburg. Historians say in the wake of President Lincoln’s election, Benning became one of Georgia’s most vocal proponents of secession, Fort Benning, name for him, opened in 1918.
In other states, North Carolina native General Braxton Bragg has his name on the Army post outside Fayetteville, which is home to the 82nd Airborne and Special Forces. Fort Hood, Texas got its name from General John Bell Hood.
Closer to home, two other Army installations are named for Confederate leaders - Fort Rucker in Alabama and Fort Gordon, just outside Augusta, Georgia.