Naming of U.S. Army Posts

This image is a detail from the painting Forts Tompkins and Wadsworth - New York (1776) part of the The Eastman Forts collection


In 2017, the fact that a number of U.S. Army posts were named for individuals who had fought against the United States and the U.S. Army during the American Civil War became a matter of public interest. At that time, historians from the Center of Military History performed research in the records of the U.S. Army, particularly at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, to see what could be learned about the naming of the posts.

The topic has continued to be of significant public attention. Some discussion of the origins of the names, however, has been less than accurate. In the interest of historical accuracy, therefore, posted below are both a fact sheet, which provides a brief overview of the naming of several posts, and the documents on which the fact sheet was based. Many of these sources are not currently available elsewhere, due to COVID-19 restrictions at places such as the National Archives, so this historical information is provided as a service to the Army and the public.

Camp Hancock, GA
For more information and images on U.S. Army camps in World War I, click here.

Fact Sheet


SUBJECT: The Naming of U.S. Army Posts for Confederate Army Officers

Before World War I

From its beginnings, the U.S. Army has named posts for individuals, such as Fort Washington (for George Washington) in 1776, Fort McPherson (for James B. McPherson) in 1867, and Schofield Barracks (for John M. Schofield) in 1908. Selection of names usually was left to the local commander until the War Department, in an effort to “secure uniformity,” promulgated General Order Number 79 in November 1878. It reserved the prerogative to name posts to regional commanders, and noted that “forts” were permanent, while “camps” were temporary.

World War I

War Department Naming of New Installations in 1917

A 17 July 1917 memorandum by Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Kuhn, chief of the General Staff’s War College Division, described the Army’s informal policy used to name newly created camps. Of the eight criteria, the three key ones were that the name should: (1) represent a person from the locale of the troops stationed there, (2) that it be “not unpopular in the vicinity of the camp,” and (3) that it focus on “Federal commanders for camps of divisions from northern States and of Confederates for camps of divisions from southern States.” Two other criteria could make some Civil War names “impracticable:” names should be short “to avoid clerical labor” and they could not be the same as the name of a living prominent person. When an appropriate Civil War name could not be used for a post, then those from other eras would be acceptable. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker was aware of this policy and approved it.

General Kuhn headed the board of officers that provided a list of suggested names, including alternates, for the chief of staff. The chief of staff selected the final names. His choices did not always follow the informal policy. For example, he rejected four Confederate names for southern camps housing southern troops, selecting instead northerners, or southerners from the pre–Civil War era. (See Table 1.) In six instances, he followed the policy of naming camps in the south after northerners when they housed northern troops. (See Table 2.) Of the nineteen initial camps in southern states, only four were named for Confederate officers: Camp Lee (for Robert E. Lee) in Virginia, Camp Beauregard (for P. G. T. Beauregard) in Louisiana, Camp Gordon (for John B. Gordon) in Georgia, and Camp Wheeler (for Joseph Wheeler) in Georgia. (Wheeler subsequently served as a general of U.S. volunteers in the Spanish-American War and received a Regular Army commission as a brigadier general.)



Anniston, AL 29th Division
(VA, DC, MD, DE, NJ)
J. E. B. Stuart George B. McClellan
(U.S. Army, Civil War)
Greenville, SC 30th Division
(TN, NC, SC)
Nathan Bedford Forrest John Sevier (North Carolina Militia, Revolutionary War)
Little Rock, AR 87th Division
(AR, LA, MS)
Braxton Bragg Zebulon M. Pike
(U.S. Army, War of 1812)
Fort Sam Houston, TX 90th Division
(TX, AZ, NM, OK)
John Bell Hood William B. Travis
(Texas Army,Texas Revolution)



Montgomery, AL 37th Division
(OH, WV)
Philip H. Sheridan
(U.S. Army, Civil War)
Charlotte, NC 26th Division
Nathanael Greene (Continental Army, Revolutionary War)
Spartanburg, SC 27th Division
James S. Wadsworth
(U.S. Volunteers, Civil War)
Augusta, GA 28th Division
Winfield S. Hancock
(U.S. Army, Civil War)
Houston, TX 33d Division
John A. Logan
(U.S. Volunteers, Civil War)
Waco, TX 32d Division
(MI, WI)
Arthur MacArthur Jr
(U.S. Army, Philippines War)

Naming of New Installations in 1918

Major General William J. Snow, the Chief of Field Artillery, recommended to the chief of staff the names for two new field artillery cantonments. Snow’s two criteria for names were that they be of a distinguished field artilleryman and short. For one in Kentucky, Snow chose Revolutionary War artillery officer Henry Knox, a Massachusetts native who later became Secretary of War. For one in North Carolina, he selected North Carolina native Braxton Bragg, who had distinguished himself as a battery commander in the Mexican War, resigned his U.S. Army commission in 1856, and joined the Confederate army in 1861. The chief of staff accepted Snow’s recommendations.

In the only known instance during World War I of the Army taking into account public opinion, Secretary Baker accepted the recommendations of the local chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Rotary Club to name a post in Georgia Camp Benning after Confederate general Henry L. Benning, who had lived in the area.

Postwar Status of Posts Named for Confederate Officers

In the period between the world wars, the Army retained only two of the World War I camps named for Confederate officers. Now the site of the Infantry School, Camp Benning became Fort Benning in 1922. Camp Bragg continued as a site for field artillery training and equipment testing, and in 1922 it became Fort Bragg.

The Army closed Camp Lee after the war and the property reverted to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which used it mainly as a game preserve. In 1940, the War Department reinstated control of the property and built a second Camp Lee on it. Now the location of the Quartermaster School, the Army kept Camp Lee open after World War II and in 1950 marked its status as a permanent installation by changing its name to Fort Lee. Camp Gordon closed after World War I and a new facility elsewhere in Georgia would receive that name in World War II. Camp Beauregard was turned over to the state of Louisiana for use by its National Guard. During World War II, Louisiana returned the camp to the federal government. After the war, the Army again turned it over to Louisiana. The Army closed Camp Wheeler in 1919 and returned the land to its original owners. In 1940, the Army reopened Camp Wheeler by leasing most of the land it used in World War I; it closed the camp after World War II and returned the land to its owners.

World War II

War Department Policy

Army Regulation 210-10, dated 1 July 1939, established a formal policy on naming installations, but stated only that “All military posts will be named by the Secretary of War.” In 1937, however, the War Department had stated informally that those honored should be distinguished deceased persons “who either were born in or were associated prominently with the state in which the post is located.” In March 1942, Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall indicated an intention to amend AR 210-10 to give the commanders of the service’s three major commands (Army Ground Forces, Army Air Forces, and Army Service Forces) “the principal voice in the selection.” This requirement, however, does not appear to ever have been formalized. A memo of 5 December 1942 further described the “practice” of the Army War College’s Historical Section recommending “several possible names” for higher authority to choose from. Another memo the same month summarized the factors for selecting names, which were much like those in World War I, except that it reiterated the 1937 policy that the person should be “identified with the locality of the post by birth or distinguished service.” The memo also noted that enlisted soldiers were eligible for the honor. The World War I policy of taking into account the home region of the troops who occupied the post was no longer used, even during the mobilization of the National Guard in 1940–1941.

New Installations Named for Confederate Officers

Because the Army was much larger in this conflict, it established many more posts than it had in World War I. It also established them over a much longer period, naming new posts as they came into existence rather than in one large batch, so each selection had its own story. In accordance with the War Department’s policy, camps in the south generally were named after southerners, though not all were Confederate officers. Eight major camps received Confederate names.

Camp Polk: In 1940, the Army decided to build a camp in Louisiana. The Historical Section recommended naming it after Leonidas Polk, who had been an Episcopal bishop in Louisiana before joining the Confederate army. The General Staff’s G–3 accepted this recommendation and the deputy chief of staff approved it.

A.P. Hill Military Reservation: The Historical Section in 1941 suggested three names for a new field training and artillery firing area in Virginia. The G–3 struck one name because an existing fort had the same surname and a second name because that officer was not from Virginia. The third name was A. P. Hill, a native Virginian who resigned his U.S. Army commission to join the Confederate army. The G–3 recommend A.P. Hill and the chief of staff approved this name.

Camp Gordon: In June 1941, the Historical Section provided three names for a new installation near Augusta, Georgia. All were Confederate officers. The G–3 selected John B. Gordon as the name for this post for the same reasons the War Department in 1917 had named a post in Georgia for him: Gordon was a “distinguished and popular native-born soldier and statesman of Georgia.”

Camp Pickett: In June 1941, the Historical Section recommended George E. Pickett as the first choice for a new camp in the vicinity of Eugene, Oregon. It made this recommendation on the grounds that Pickett, while a U.S. Army officer, had “played a dominant part in the affair at San Juan Island” and that, while serving as a Confederate officer, his “charge at Gettysburg is known to every American.” The Historical Section did suggest to the G–3 that if the post in Oregon was not named for Pickett, his name should be considered for a new installation in Virginia as he had been born in that state. Later that year, the Historical Section recommended and the G–3 accepted Pickett as the name for a new camp near Blackstone, Virginia.

Camp Rucker: In 1941, the Army decided to open a camp near Ozark, Alabama. For names, the Historical Section nominated two Confederates and an Army lieutenant from Ozark who had been awarded a posthumous Distinguished Service Cross in World War I. The G–3 rejected the lieutenant because a fort in Massachusetts already honored someone with the same last name and General James Longstreet because he had only a slight connection to Alabama. The G–3 recommended John Pelham, a well-known Confederate artillery officer from Alabama, to the chief of staff. The chief of staff did not accept this recommendation. Instead, General Marshall directed this camp be named after Edmund M. Rucker, an obscure Confederate cavalry officer from Tennessee. Although the Historical Section argued other men were “more worthy and appropriate” than Rucker, Marshall did not change his decision. The available documents do not state Marshall’s reason for selecting Rucker, who became a prominent industrialist after moving to Alabama after the Civil War. However, Senator J. Lister Hill of Alabama had suggested Rucker’s name to Marshall. Hill’s sister had married Rucker’s son. Before becoming a senator in 1938, Hill had been in the House of Representatives, where he chaired the committee on military affairs.

Camp Hood: Although a native of Kentucky, Confederate General John Bell Hood considered Texas his adopted home after lengthy service there as a U.S. Army officer. In 1861, Hood resigned his U.S. Army commission and joined the Confederate army, where he became famous for commanding the Texas Brigade. Hood’s name appeared in January 1942 for a post being acquired in Texas for the new tank destroyer command. The Historical Section also provided G–3 three other names for consideration: (1) Maj. Gen. Robert L. Howze, a native Texan who had been awarded the Medal of Honor and commanded a division during World War I; (2) Capt. James W. Fannin, an officer in the Texas Army killed in action during the Texas Revolution; and (3) Maj. Gen. William S. Graves, a native Texan who commanded the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia during World War I. There is no record of the decision process, but War Department General Order 12, dated 6 March 1942, formalized Hood as the selection. In August 1944, Army Ground Forces attempted to get the name of Camp Hood changed to honor Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, its former commander, who had been killed by friendly fire in France in July. The effort continued into 1945, with Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, who now led Army Ground Forces, adding his voice to the campaign. The Adjutant General opposed it, citing among other reasons “undesirable popular and political repercussions in the State of Texas.”

Camp Forrest: The Army in 1940 took over and greatly expanded a Tennessee National Guard base named for Austin Peay, a former governor of that state. General Marshall directed the name be changed because it was not Army practice to name an installation used by federal troops after a local politician who did not have a distinguished military background. Because the Army had leased Peay, he instructed the National Guard Bureau to contact the Tennessee state authorities for their recommendations on a new name. Furthermore, he directed that “the desires of the State authorities will be followed unless it is found that the name selected is unsuitable for psychological or other reasons.” The Tennessee adjutant general recommended Nathan Bedford Forrest, a native Tennessean whose birthplace was nearby. Despite the notorious reputation of Forrest, a prewar slave trader and then a founder of the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War, the Historical Section and the G–3 accepted this recommendation. In January 1941, Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. William L. Bryden approved the name change. The Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper, took great umbrage at the name, and the Illinois legislature attempted (without success) to get the name changed when the state’s National Guard division reported there for training.

Camp Van Dorn: In 1942, the War Department purchased land near Centreville, Mississippi, for training infantry divisions. The Historical Section provided eight men, including Jefferson Davis, for consideration in naming this camp and another camp near Grenada, Mississippi. All had fought in the Civil War and all were either from Mississippi or had significant service in the state during the war. The name selected for the camp near Centreville was Earl Van Dorn. A Mississippi native who resigned his U.S. Army commission to join the Confederate army, Van Dorn rose to major general before being murdered in 1863. (The camp near Grenada was named for a Mississippi native who served as adjutant general of the U.S. Army for most of World War I.)

New Installations in the South Not Named for Confederate Officers

During World War II the Army named a number of posts in the south for men who had not served in the Confederate army. The most significant instances were:

Camp Campbell: In naming a new base straddling the KentuckyTennessee border in early 1942, the Army rejected the input of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the repeated strong urging of a congressman for a Confederate officer, instead selecting William B. Campbell. Campbell had fought in the Mexican War, served as governor of Tennessee, and sided with the United States during the Civil War. The congressman demanded to know the identity of the individual responsible for the decision. The G–3 responded accurately but with bureaucratic obfuscation that the responsibility “rests upon the Secretary of War.”

Camp Stewart: In 1940, the Army established an antiaircraft firing center near Savannah, Georgia. The Historical Section recommended and the G–3 agreed that the camp be named for Sergeant William Jasper, a Continental Army soldier killed in action at the siege of Savannah. The congressman who represented the district in which the center was located lobbied for naming it after Brig. Gen. Daniel Stewart. Stewart had lived in the county in which the center was located and served in the Georgia militia during the Revolutionary War, the Creek wars, and the War of 1812. The chief of coast artillery, the branch responsible for antiaircraft units, accepted the congressman’s recommendation and the G–3 then concurred with naming the camp after Stewart.

Camp Chaffee: In August 1941, the Army named a major post for an armored division in Arkansas after the recently deceased father of the armored force, Maj. Gen. Adna R. Chaffee Jr, who was a native of Kansas

Fort Leonard Wood: In 1940, the Army established the Seventh Corps Area Training Center in Missouri. The chief of infantry suggested that the center be named after Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, a native of New Hampshire and former chief of staff of the Army. The Historical Section and the G–3 concurred in this recommendation.

Fort Jackson: : The Army was conscious of the popular association of certain names with the Civil War. In 1940, it took over Camp Jackson from the South Carolina National Guard. The installation was named for President Andrew Jackson. The Historical Section recommended the post be renamed Fort Andrew Jackson to avoid creating the impression that it was named for Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Although the G–3 agreed to redesignate the post as a fort, it did not concur in adding the president’s first name to the post’s name.

Postwar Status of Posts Named for Confederate Officers

The Army retained Polk, A.P. Hill, Gordon, Pickett, Rucker, and Hood. It declared Camp Van Dorn surplus in October 1945 and closed the post. It declared Camp Forrest surplus in 1946 and closed the installation.

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