The U.S. Army won't scrub the names of Confederate generals from a base in New York City, military officials told Congress.
A group of Democratic lawmakers asked the Army in June to rename a pair of streets at Fort Hamilton, in Brooklyn, which currently honoring Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, part of a broader effort to take down Confederate memorials across the country. But the Army rebuffed the appeal.
"After over a century, any effort to rename memorializations on Fort Hamilton would be controversial and divisive," Diane Rendon, an official in the Army's bureau of manpower and reserve affairs, wrote in a July 20 letter. "This is contrary to the nation's original intent in naming these streets, which was the spirit of reconciliation."
Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., mocked the decision as a victory for white supremacy. "That ‘reconciliation' was actually complicity by the North and the South to ignore the interests of African Americans and enforce white supremacy, effectively denying the result of the Civil War for generations," she said Monday. "These monuments are deeply offensive to the hundreds of thousands of Brooklyn residents and members of the armed forces stationed at Fort Hamilton whose ancestors Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson fought to hold in slavery."
Rendon disputed that contention in the letter while acknowledging the "significance and sensitivity" of the street names. "Streets on our military installations are often named for a soldier who holds a place of significance in our military history," she wrote. "The great generals of the Civil War, Union and Confederate, are an inextricable part of our military history. The men in question were honored on Fort Hamilton as individuals, not as representatives of any particular cause or ideology."
Lee was the leading Confederate general, commanding the Army of Northern Virginia from 1862 to 1865 through the most significant clashes of the Civil War. Stonewall Jackson served under Lee until his death following the battle of Chancellorsville in 1863.
"This fight isn't over yet," Clarke added in a pair of tweets. "I will continue to call on [the U.S. Army] to reckon with history & remove the names of Confederate generals from Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn."