WASHINGTON — A South Georgia congressman is among eight people selected for a commission to rename military bases honoring Confederate leaders.
Rep. Austin Scott, R-Georgia, whose 8th District includes Colquitt County, will join three retired generals, a retired admiral, a former drill sergeant, a civilian defense policy expert and the secretary of the Smithsonian on the panel, according to an announcement Feb. 12 by Pentagon and congressional leaders.
The commission is expected to begin work next month to build a plan to rename 10 Army installations carrying the names of Confederate generals and to remove other names and symbols from Defense Department properties and assets honoring those who served the Confederate States of America, according to an article about the announcement in Stars and Stripes’ online edition.
“Each of these individuals possesses unique and relevant experience, in and out of government that I know will inform this important effort,” the newspaper quoted Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin as saying.
Scott was named Feb. 12 by the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees, along with retired Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick; Lonnie G. Bunch II, the secretary of the Smithsonian; and Jerry Buchanan, a Tulsa, Okla., businessman.
Austin named four others the same day: retired Navy Adm. Michelle Howard, retired Marine Gen. Bob Neller, retired Army Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule, and Kori Schake, a civilian defense policy expert, Stars and Stripes reported.
Scott’s district stretches from north of Macon to the Florida line and includes Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta and Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, neither of which faces a name change.
Two other Georgia bases are being considered for name changes, though.
Fort Benning near Columbus is named for Confederate Gen. Henry Lewis Benning. According to his Wikipedia page, Benning was born in Columbia County, Ga., and moved to Columbus after college, where he was a lawyer, legislator and judge on the Georgia Supreme Court before representing Muscogee County at the secession convention in 1861. He distinguished himself at the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg; participated in the Battle of Chickamauga, where he had two horses shot out from under him; and was wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness. He was one of the final officers to lead his men to the surrender ceremony at Appomattox Court House.
Fort Gordon, near Augusta, was named for Lt. Gen. John Brown Gordon, an Upson County native considered among Robert E. Lee’s most trusted generals, according to his Wikipedia page. Before the war he was a lawyer and a slave-holding plantation owner. He first saw action at Seven Pines and was wounded at Gaines Mill, shot five times at the Battle of Antietam, once more at Shepherdstown, W.Va., and again at Fort Stedman. His actions at Spotsylvania Court House prevented a Confederate rout. He led his men in the last charge of the Army of Northern Virginia just before the surrender at Appomattox. After the war, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1873 and became the first ex-Confederate to preside over the Senate. He was elected governor of Georgia in 1886 and returned to the Senate from 1891 to 1897.
The other bases named for Confederates are also in former Confederate states: Camp Beauregard and Fort Polk in Louisiana, Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett in Virginia, Fort Rucker in Alabama, and Fort Hood in Texas.