Restricted Army base naming: contemporary context

Feb 3, 2018
Northern Virginia
In light of the current renaming drive, I'd like to start a thread to collect information about the contemporary circumstances when the army bases now suddenly famous for their names were named. I've read several accusations that they were named as part of an attempt to curry favor with Southern politicians, and would like to see whether these are justified.

When the US Army began its massive expansion during World War I there was a need for more posts to train draftees and called-up National Guardsmen, and on 15 July 1917 the War Department announced the names for 32 posts - 16 division training camps each for the National Army (the term for draftee units) and the National Guard. The names generally were those of famous military leaders from the area that the camps were in or of military leaders from the states of the National Guard divisions.

The sixteen National Army camps were (namesake in parentheses):
  • Camp Lee (Robert E. Lee), Virginia
  • Camp Jackson (Andrew Jackson), South Carolina
  • Camp Gordon (John Brown Gordon), Georgia
  • Camp Pike (Zebulon Pike), Arkansas
  • Camp Devens (Charles Devens), Massachusetts
  • Camp Upton (Emory Upton), New York
  • Camp Dix (John Adams Dix), New Jersey
  • Camp Meade (George Meade), Maryland
  • Camp Sherman (William Tecumseh Sherman), Ohio
  • Camp Taylor (Zachary Taylor), Kentucky
  • Camp Custer (George Armstrong Custer), Michigan
  • Camp Grant (Ulysses Grant), Illinois
  • Camp Dodge (Grenville M. Dodge), Iowa
  • Camp Funston (Frederick Funston), Kansas
  • Camp Travis (William B. Travis), Texas
  • Camp Lewis (Meriwether Lewis), Washington
As can be seen, the War Department chose namesakes that had deep connections to these states - Funston had grown up in Kansas and commanded a regiment from that state in the Spanish-American War before becoming a hero of the Philippine-American War, and Dodge commanded Iowa troops in the Civil War. There isn't a particular preference for Confederate generals but rather a desire for local heroes in general. The National Guard camps, however, are less predictable in their naming and location:
  • Camp Greene (Nathanael Greene), North Carolina
  • Camp Wadsworth (James S. Wadsworth), South Carolina
  • Camp Hancock (Winfield Scott Hancock), Georgia
  • Camp McClellan (George McClellan), Alabama
  • Camp Sevier (John Sevier), South Carolina
  • Camp Wheeler (Joseph Wheeler), Georgia
  • Camp Sheridan (Phil Sheridan), Alabama
  • Camp Shelby (Isaac Shelby), Mississippi
  • Camp MacArthur (Arthur MacArthur), Texas
  • Camp Logan (John A. Logan), Texas
  • Camp Cody (Buffalo Bill Cody), New Mexico
  • Camp Doniphan (Alexander Doniphan), Oklahoma
  • Camp Bowie (James Bowie), Texas
  • Camp Beauregard (P.G.T. Beauregard), Louisiana
  • Camp Kearney (Stephen Kearney), California
  • Camp Fremont (John C. Fremont), California
What's more interesting is the apparent dissonance between the names and locations of these camps: why name a posts in Alabama after McClellan and Sheridan, or in Georgia after Winfield Scott Hancock? Because troops from the home states of these generals were to be stationed at the posts - for example, Camp Sheridan was home to the Ohio National Guard's 37th Division, while Hancock had Pennsylvania's 28th Division. The question, then, is, how were these names perceived at the time?

The local Montgomery Advertiser had effusive praise for Sheridan, describing him repeatedly as the "greatest single cavalry leader produced in the United States army" who "did most of the active work for Grant in the final crushing of the Army of Northern Virginia," yet predictably noted that Sheridan was still the cause of bad memories in Virginia due to the 1864 Valley Campaign. From the newspaper, Montgomery's leading citizens were delighted at the business prospects that having thousands of soldiers stationed there brought and didn't object to the naming of the camp for Sheridan.
Feb 3, 2018
Northern Virginia
The Anniston Star did not have much to comment on McClellan, describing him as having "become famous in the Civil War." (though those alive at the time certainly knew the man was). Its editors desired the camp to be named after local Congressman Fred Blackmon, but this had no chance as the War Department overwhelmingly wanted posts to be named for the famous military leaders no longer alive. The newspapermen hoped that Blackmon would be honored with the name of the permanent post there, but this proved a vain hope as after the end of World War I Camp McClellan became a permanent post (fort).

George M. Bailey of the Houston Post noted that "Black Jack Logan served with distinction in the Union Army." Again, it would appear that the prevailing sentiment at the time welcomed the soldiers, in keeping with the surge of patriotism during the war.
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