Fort Pickett needs new name
6/18/2020, 6 p.m.
I read about some people suggesting changing the names of Army and other military camps because the names they bear honor members of the Confederacy.
President Trump stated that his administration will not consider renaming the camps because they trained heroes on those hallowed grounds.
It’s telling that the article from which I learned this featured a photo of Confederate Gen. George Pickett, for whom Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Va., is named. He is famous for leading a failed Confederate charge that ended with most of his men dead. How he got a camp named after him, I don’t know.
It was said that after the Civil War, he fled to Canada then later returned to the Atlantic states where he conducted an insurance business. Earlier in his career, he nearly started a war between the United States and Great Britain. It is referred to as the Pig War. He occupied an island off the Northwest coast claimed by Great Britain in a dispute involving the shooting of a pig and would not depart until directly ordered.
Gen. Pickett also fought in the battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War. He charged to the top of that citadel, which had been defended mostly by teenage cadets, and hung the American flag at the pinnacle.
His achievement was overshadowed by the fact that, at the same time he was raising the flag, U.S. Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock ordered13 members of the St. Patrick’s Battalion to be hung for treason because they fought for Mexico. He ordered them hung at the precise moment that the American flag was aloft so that the last thing they saw was the American flag flying over Chapultepec Castle.
By the way, Robert E. Lee, then a captain, also was there.
Gen. Pickett had a colorful career that included the failed attack at Gettysburg. Later in the Civil War, he was involved in another bizarre incident in North Carolina, where many people would rather have remained in the Union. The state militia in the eastern part of North Carolina would only fight if they were directly attacked by Union forces. This made Gen. Pickett extremely angry. He had some of the militia rounded up and hung 13 of them at the same time in the square outside of the county seat in Kinston, N.C.
Toward the end of the war, it is reported that Gen. Pickett sat down for oysters with Gen. George Washington Custis Lee and other of- ficers. After finishing their picnic, they returned to their camps to find their men in heated battle because of a Union attack. The Confederates made a hasty retreat and precipitated Gen. Lee’s surrender and the end of the Confederate States of America.
Gen. Pickett also was responsible for hanging my direct ancestor at Kinston, N.C., so you can imagine I don’t think too much of him.
I believe Fort Pickett should be renamed.
ALFRED LEE BROCK