JUST PLAIN TALK: Names of military bases should change

Buz Livingston
Walton Sun

Military bases named for Confederate generals will be changed sooner or later. The Pentagon wants it, and a Republican Senator from Oklahoma, James Langford, pointed out in a recent interview we should honor modern military leaders instead. None of my forebears fought for the North, but it’s a good thing we lost. It doesn’t have anything to do with black, white, blue or red, but green. The South losing the war helped propel the United States of America as the preeminent nation on the planet. Importantly, too, we have all benefited, mightily I must emphasize, with the American dollar as the world reserve currency. As such, we enjoy an immeasurable economic tailwind.

In his interview, Sen. Langford stressed bases should be named for great military leaders. Fort Bragg, home of some of America’s elite fighting forces, on the other hand, is named for Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg, who many historians label as one of the worst Civil War generals. In addition to being a dubious tactician, Bragg managed to alienate men in his command. Sam Watkins, quoted liberally in Ken Burns’ award-winning documentary, labeled Bragg "a merciless tyrant" who "loved to crush the spirit of his men.“

Bragg led the Army of Tennesee longer than anyone else and lost every battle save one, Chickamauga.

However, the hero of Chickamauga was a Union general, the quite-capable George Thomas, “Rock of Chickamauga,” who protected the Union army from a potential collapse.

As bad as Bragg was as a leader and tactician, his advice doomed the South. In the summer of 1864, Lincoln’s re-election campaign faced long odds. The North was tired of war, and the South didn’t have to win; they only had not to lose. Lincoln’s Democratic foe, Gen. George McClellan, advocated peace negotiations with the South. But the North couldn’t take Atlanta. Gen. Sherman found himself outwitted by his close friend, Gen. Joe Johnson’s brilliant defensive moves.

Things looked bleak for the North, enter Braxton Bragg. President Davis didn’t trust Johnson’s defensive strategy preferring someone more aggressive. Bragg pushed John Bell Hood as a replacement. Hood then attacked Sherman multiple times, losing badly and then surrendered Atlanta. When Atlanta fell in September of 1864, Lincoln won re-election a few weeks later. Bragg’s questionable advice led directly to the South’s demise.

My great, great, great grandfather Capt. John McGregor, served in Benning’s Brigade, led by Henry Benning, Fort Benning’s namesake. Changing the installation’s name is personal, but it doesn’t erase history. After the Civil War, John McGregor applied for a pension for his service during the Mexican War. I'm quite proud of him putting the unpleasantness aside and cashing the check. Replace Henry Benning with a Georgia native, Medal of Honor Major Gen. James E. Livingston, 2/4 USMC. Not kin and an Auburn graduate, but a better choice.

You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP, can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.