A look at Fort Hood’s namesake, a Confederate General named John Bell Hood

Published: May. 8, 2023 at 3:56 PM CDT|Updated: May. 9, 2023 at 9:48 AM CDT
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FORT CAVAZOS, Texas (KWTX) - Picking the new name Fort Cavazos has been a lengthy process for the Army, forming committees and doing research in hopes of distancing the Army base from its namesake, a Confederate General.

But when the base was being named Fort Hood in the 1940s, picking who to name it after was much simpler.

In 1942, no naming committee or elaborate search process as the Army base got its name.

“Basically they were looking at someone to name the Fort after, they basically went to the library and began doing research and they had found that John Bell Hood had a connection to the Texas Brigade so it was named that,” explains Steven Draper, the Director at the National Mounted Warrior Museum in Killeen.

The name didn’t raise in alarm for 1940s America but now there are questions about whether John Bell Hood’s legacy is worth putting on a fixture of American military prowess.

John Bell Hood was a Confederate General and Commander of the Texas Brigade during the Civil War.

John Bell Hood
John Bell Hood(USAMHI (NPS))

He was one of the most rapidly promoted leaders in the Confederate military during the Civil War. Hood was quickly promoted from Brigade Command to Brigadier General in 11 days. Much like the base named after him that quickly moved from being a training location named Camp Hood to a full fledged Fort Hood.

“The names Camp Hood and Fort Hood changed right after the second World War,” Draper says.

Like its namesake quickly moving through the ranks, Camp Hood was once an impressive 100,000 acres and quickly added an additional 50,000 more than following year and now at more than 218,000 acres spanning through Bell and Coryell counties.

“Camp Hood became Fort Hood as they established more of the armored training school here. The first and second armored divisions were trained at Fort Hood and it became a major area for training the tank units here,” Draper explains.

While the legacy of the man behind the name “Hood” is now in question, Fort Hood did produce some other well-known and well celebrated figures like Jackie Robinson in the 1940s and heart throb Elvis Presley in 1958.

Once known simply as “The King” singer & actor Elvis Presley died 29 years ago
Once known simply as “The King” singer & actor Elvis Presley died 29 years ago

Thousands of soldiers have boot their boots on the ground in Killeen, training for oversea deployments through the 80s preparing for the wars to come like Operation Desert Storm in 1990. And later, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Afghanistan in the early 2000s.

Today Fort Hood stands with the same old and controversial history in its books but has a brand new name at its gates. As some hope the post will begin to emulate its new namesake, war hero General Richard Cavazos.

“Not only did Cavazos provide for regular soldiers, but even in his retirement life he was a mentor to a lot of senior officers that are important in shaping what the Army is today,” Draper says.

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