President Joe Biden’s administration and members of Congress have moved full speed ahead in the ongoing effort to erase any and all remaining historic and honorary references to the Confederacy in the U.S. military.
That includes the recent renaming of two U.S. Navy ships, one named after a major Civil War battle and the other named after a Confederate naval officer, to instead honor the achievements of a former slave and a pioneering woman, Breitbart reported.
To be sure, the individuals the two ships will be renamed after are both highly worthy of having their names honored, though some would argue that their honor should come on new ships and not at the expense of erasing prior references to other important events and figures in U.S. history.
A “masterpiece of strategy and tactics”
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that a U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser that was previously based out of San Diego, California, but is now forward-deployed to Japan — the Chancellorsville — will soon be renamed as the Robert Smalls.
The Chancellorsville had been named in honor of the Civil War’s 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia, a major but costly victory for the vastly outnumbered Confederate army in which the “brilliant tactics” of Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson — who was fatally wounded by friendly fire — stymied and turned back an overconfident Union army attack under Gen. Joseph Hooker, per the American Battlefield Trust.
In fact, according to the History Channel, the 1863 battle is broadly considered to be a “masterpiece of strategy and tactics” that military leaders around the globe have continued to study and emulate to this day.
The undeniable heroism of Robert Smalls
As for who the Navy cruiser will be renamed after, Robert Smalls, the honor is well-deserved, as he was a slave who gained maritime skills and then stole a Confederate steamer ship that he secretly piloted out of the Confederate-controlled Charleston harbor in South Carolina and then turned it over to the Union naval forces.
After the Civil War, the freedman Smalls went on to become a prominent businessman, publisher, state legislator, and even U.S. congressman from the Palmetto State.
According to the Feb. 27 announcement of the name change from Navy Sec. Carlos Del Toro, “The renaming of these assets is not about rewriting history, but to remove the focus on the parts of our history that don’t align with the tenets of this country, and instead allows us to highlight the events and people in history who may have been overlooked.”
Erasing the “Father of Modern Oceanography”
Meanwhile, Military.com reported on Wednesday that the U.S. Navy, timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, announced that it will also be renaming an ocean survey ship from the USNS Maury to the USNS Marie Tharp.
The Maury had been named after former U.S. Navy-turned-Confederate naval officer Matthew Maury, who is broadly considered to be the “Father of Modern Oceanography,” and who had until just last month also been previously honored at the U.S. Naval Academy with its engineering building being named Maury Hall.
The ship will now be renamed in honor of Marie Tharp, a pioneering post-WWII oceanographer who is credited with helping to thoroughly map the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in the 1970s and discovering evidence of the mid-ocean ridges that proved the geological theory of plate tectonics and continental drift.
Instead of honoring a woman who “positively influenced our society”
In a March 8 press release, Sec. Del Toro said of Tharp, “Her dedication to research brought life to the unknown ocean world and proved important information about the earth, all while being a woman in a male-dominated industry.”
“As the history of our great Nation evolves, we must put forth the effort to recognize figures who positively influenced our society,” he added. “This renaming honors just one of the many historic women who have made a significant impact on not only our Navy, but our Nation.”