Last Thursday, U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley voted against an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act directing that new names be chosen for bases honoring Confederate military heroes.


The amendment targets 10 military bases — all in states that initiated a war to preserve the right to own another human being.


In a statement to reporters, Hawley played the history card. We’ve seen it before, used to defend everything from flying the Confederate battle flag at the South Carolina capitol to keeping statues of violent racists in places of honor.


"I just don’t think that Congress mandating that these be renamed and attempting to erase that part of our history is a way that you deal with that history," Hawley said.


Well, as the Tribune's resident expert on the Civil War, I would recommend that Hawley ask his colleague, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, for some books on the generals whose names adorn some of the nation's most important military installations. Blunt, you see, was once a high school history teacher and is a trustee of the State Historical Society of Missouri.


Blunt is not advocating for the names to remain on the bases. In fact, he suggested to reporters that renaming some or all would be appropriate.


"If you want to continue to name forts after soldiers, there have been a lot of great soldiers who have come along since the Civil War," Blunt said, according to CNN.


Blunt noted that Braxton Bragg, whose name is on the largest military base in the world, was "probably the worst commanding general in the entire Confederate Army. He’s an interesting guy to name a fort after."


But in case Hawley is too busy to read some books, here's a short list of reasons why renaming those bases is a good idea. As Blunt noted, some of them have less-than-inspiring records of military achievement.


FORT LEE


We'll start with Fort Lee in Virginia, named for Gen. Robert E. Lee.


Lee was an audacious, enormously successful commander and an inspiration to his troops. He was scrupulously honest, a brilliant engineer and he had a lasting impact on higher education after the war with his reorganization of what is now Washington and Lee University.


But instead of fighting for the nation that had given him an education, employed him and made him prosperous, he took up arms against it. That, in the Constitution, is the definition of treason.


Lee's greatest military achievements were as an enemy of the United States. If he had been any more successful, the property occupied by Fort Lee would not be in the United States.


Fort Lee is a training center. How about Fort Steuben, for Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben? A Prussian officer, he served in the Revolutionary War teaching basic military drill, tactics and discipline.


FORT HOOD


Fort Hood, in Texas, is named after John Bell Hood, an aggressive commander who destroyed through incompetence the last effective Confederate Army fighting west of the Appalachian Mountains.


Fort Hood is the army's base for deploying heavy armored forces. How about renaming it Fort Patton, after the aggressive World War II Gen. George Patton? At a crucial moment of the war, he spearheaded an armored drive to defeat the last Nazi offensive in western Europe.


FORT BENNING


Fort Benning in Georgia is named for Henry L. Benning, a competent fighter who served under Hood. Benning was never a grand strategist and never held an independent command.


Fort Benning is where the U.S. Army trains its airborne troops and is the home of its infantry school. How about renaming it for Gen. Anthony "Nuts" McAuliffe? He was the commander of the 101st Airborne Division when it was surrounded at Bastogne, Belgium and acquired his nickname from the one-word answer he gave when Germans demanded his surrender.


FORT GORDON


Fort Gordon in Georgia is named for Gen. John Brown Gordon, who was an aggressive and audacious commander but who, after the war, opposed the Reconstruction policies that gave civil, social and economic rights to freed slaves. He is believed by many to have been the leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia, although he is also on the record as having made some statements of benevolence to the people freed by the South's defeat in the war to preserve slavery.


Fort Gordon is the Army's center for signal and cyber security. Perhaps a better name would be Fort Lowe, for Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, who organized the Union Army Balloon Corps, which provided aerial reconnaissance of Confederate positions reported by a telegraph wire from a platform tethered up to 500 feet above the ground.


FORT BRAGG


Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is named after Braxton Bragg, as Blunt noted, one of the South's least successful generals. On two separate occasions, Bragg had major strategic victories within his grasp but failed at the moment of execution.


Perhaps a fitting name would be Fort Washington, in recognition of the fact that George Washington led a meager, ill-fed and ill-clad force in the Revolution. The name applied to the world’s largest base would celebrate the power of what Washington started.


FORT POLK


Fort Polk, Louisiana, a joint readiness and training center, is named for Gen. Leonidas Polk, who did not survive the Civil War. As a military leader, he made a major strategic blunder early in the war that cost the Confederacy the chance to turn Kentucky to its side.


As a readiness center, perhaps it would be better named for Gen. George Thomas, who held his command in readiness at Nashville during an ice storm and struck at Hood when the weather warmed, scattering the rebel army and ending any substantial resistance in the war's western theater.


FORT PICKETT


Fort Pickett, a Virginia Army National Guard installation, is named for George Pickett, who gave his name to the famously futile Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg. If the military wants a symbol of bravery in the name of a forlorn hope, perhaps it could remain Fort Pickett.


I offer the name Fort Johnson-Brown, for Gen. Hazel Johnson-Brown, the first black woman to become a general in the U.S. Army and, in retirement, a professor of nursing at George Mason University in Virginia.


FORT A.P. HILL


Fort A.P. Hill, an Army training and maneuver center in Virginia, is named for Gen. A.P. Hill, who died in the last days of the war after a distinguished battle record. Like Lee, Hill was educated by the United States at West Point and turned on the loyalties of a 14-year U.S. Army career to take up arms against his country.


It could be renamed Fort Sherman, for Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. While Gen. Ulysses Grant was piling up casualties in Virginia in 1864, Sherman mainly used flanking maneuvers to drive Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston back almost 100 miles to Atlanta.


FORT RUCKER


Fort Rucker, Alabama, is named after Gen. Edmund Rucker. A cavalry leader, Rucker was a competent commander and after the war, a business partner of Nathan Bedford Forrest, first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.


Fort Rucker bills itself as the home of Army aviation. How about naming it Fort Doolittle, for Jimmy Doolittle, who commanded the daring raid in which B-25 bombers launched from an aircraft carrier to bomb the home islands of Japan in early 1942? The raid did little damage but it did bring a big morale boost to a nation reeling from the Pearl Harbor attack and notified the Japanese that the U.S. had immense power to strike out.


If anyone is squeamish about the name Doolittle because it sounds like the camp for slackers, it could be Fort Wright, for the Wright Brothers, who built the first successful airplane and sold the Army its first air machine.


CAMP BEAUREGARD


And we come to Camp Beauregard, established as a training base during World War I and now operated by the Louisiana National Guard. It is named for Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, commander of the forces that opened the war with the bombardment of Fort Sumter.


Beauregard won the First Battle of Bull Run, a battle he easily could have lost, but had few additional successes. His forté was dreaming up grandiose plans for a vast, strategic move with himself in command.


The camp is one of the oldest ones in existence from World War I. Might I suggest to the fine state of Louisiana one of their own, Natalie Scott, as the new namesake?


Known to be one of only three Red Cross workers to serve in World War I and II, Scott returned home from World War I a heroine. She was the only American woman to earn France's highest medal for courage, the Croix de Guerre.


The current names are legacies of a time when racism turned those men’s traitorous conduct into a romantic legend of a honorable defense of home against invaders.


Time has consigned that legend to the ash heap of history and the base names should go with it.


Rudi Keller is news editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune. He can be reached at rkeller@columbiatribune.com.