Fort Bragg Changed Its Name to Move Away From Honoring the Confederacy

Fort Bragg was renamed Fort Liberty in 2023 as part of the U.S. Army's broader effort to rename installations that honor the Confederacy.


May 21 2024, Published 10:29 a.m. ET

A flag that says Fort Liberty on it flowing in the wind.
Source: Getty Images

The early 2020s have been defined in part by a reevaluation of our relationship with the Confederacy that rebelled against the United States during the American Civil War. Part of that reevaluation has involved taking a look at the many buildings and statues that are named after or honor Confederate soldiers.

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While there has been plenty of backlash to the removal or renaming of these tributes, change has definitely come to some of these buildings. One of the most famous is Fort Bragg, which was renamed Fort Liberty in 2023. Following the change, many wanted to know why the fort was renamed, and who it used to be named after.

A sign for Fort Bragg.
Source: Getty Images
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Why did Fort Bragg change its name?

Fort Bragg was renamed Fort Liberty in 2023 as part of the U.S. Army's broader effort to rename installations that honor the Confederacy. The initiative to change the names began in 2020 and was spurred by the protests that followed the death of George Floyd. A Congressional commission was established in the wake of the protests that examined the names of the bases and spoke with people in the surrounding community.

“We were given a mission, we accomplished that mission and we made ourselves better,” Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue, the commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Liberty, said following the renaming ceremony. Many of the bases are being renamed after Black soldiers, trailblazing women, or presidents, but Bragg is the only one not to be named after a person. The new name was chosen because "liberty remains the greatest American value.”

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Who was Fort Bragg named after?

The fort was originally named in 1918 after Gen. Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general from Warrenton, N.C. Bragg was best known for owning slaves (as most Confederate generals did) and for losing some of the battles that ultimately led to the Confederacy's downfall. The fort and other military installations were named after Confederate generals during World War I and World War II as part of a broader effort for "reconciliation."

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The original naming process involved local committees, although those committees didn't include any Black residents from the area. Bragg seems a particularly poor choice for a name not just because he was a traitor to the United States and led soldiers in armed rebellion against it, but because historians suggest he was also pretty bad at his job.

Those historians suggest that Bragg did not receive the respect of his troops and was widely considered to be a poor leader. In interviews about the name change, many local residents said that they would continue to call it Fort Bragg regardless of what the actual name of the base was.

Of course, over time, those who remember that the base was once called Fort Bragg will become fewer and fewer, and the new name will likely become more widely known. Regardless of where you stand on the new name, though, it seems unlikely that the military base will go back to Fort Bragg.

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