Jubal Anderson Early (November 3 1816 – March 2 1894) was a lawyer and Confederate general in the American Civil War. The articles written by him for the Southern Historical Society in the 1870s established the Lost Cause point of view as a long-lasting literary and cultural phenomenon.
Early was promoted to brigadier general after the First Battle of Bull Run (or First Manassas) in July 1861. In that battle, he displayed valor at Blackburn's Ford and impressed General P.G.T. Beauregard. He fought in most of the major battles in the Eastern Theater, including the Seven Days Battles, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and numerous battles in the Shenandoah Valley. During the Gettysburg Campaign, Early's Division occupied York, Pennsylvania, the largest Northern town to fall to the Rebels during the war.
Early was trusted and supported by the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee. Lee affectionately referred to Early as his "Bad Old Man" because of his irascible demeanor and short temper, but appreciated Early's aggressive fighting and ability to command units independently. Most of Early's soldiers referred to him as "Old Jube" or "Old Jubilee" with enthusiasm and affection. His subordinate generals often felt little of this affection. Early was an inveterate fault-finder and offered biting criticism of his subordinates at the least opportunity; in the reverse case, he was generally blind to his own mistakes and reacted fiercely to criticism or suggestions from below.
Early was wounded at Williamsburg in 1862, while leading a charge against staggering odds.
At Antietam, Early ascended to division command when his commander, Alexander Lawton, was wounded. Lee was impressed with his performance and retained him at that level. At Fredericksburg, Early saved the day by counterattacking the division of George G. Meade, which penetrated a gap in Jackson's lines. He was promoted to major general on January 17 1863. At Chancellorsville, Lee gave him a force of 5,000 men to defend Fredericksburg at Marye's Heights against superior forces (two corps) under Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick. Early was able to delay the Union forces and pin down Sedgwick while Lee and Jackson attacked the remainder of the Union troops to the west. Sedgwick's eventual attack on Early up Marye's Heights is sometimes known as the Second Battle of Fredericksburg.
Approaching Gettysburg from the northeast on July 1 1863, Early's division was on the leftmost flank of the Confederate line. He soundly defeated Francis Barlow's division (part of the Union XI Corps), inflicting three times the casualties to the defenders as he suffered, and drove the Union troops back through the streets of town, capturing many of them. In the second day at Gettysburg, he assaulted East Cemetery Hill as part of Ewell's efforts on the Union right flank. Despite initial success, Union reinforcements arrived to repulse Early's two brigades. On the third day, Early detached one brigade to assist Edward "Allegheny" Johnson's division in an unsuccessful assault on Culp's Hill. Elements of Early's division covered the rear of Lee's army during its withdrawal from Gettysburg on July 4 and July 5.
Early served in the Shenandoah Valley over the winter of 1863–64. During this period, he occasionally filled in as corps commander during Ewell's absences for illness. On May 31 1864, Lee expressed his confidence in Early's initiative and abilities at higher command levels, promoting him to the temporary rank of lieutenant general.
Upon his return from the Valley, Early fought in the Battle of the Wilderness and assumed command of the ailing A.P. Hill's Third Corps during the march to intercept Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Spotsylvania Court House. At Spotsylvania, Early occupied the relatively quiet right flank of the Mule Shoe. At the Battle of Cold Harbor, Lee replaced the ineffectual Ewell with Early as commander of the Second Corps.
During the time of Early's Maryland Heights campaign, Grant sent two VI Corps divisions from the Army of the Potomac to reinforce Union Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace. With 5,800 men, he delayed Early for an entire day at the Battle of Monocacy, allowing more Union troops to arrive in Washington and strengthen its defenses. This invasion caused considerable panic in Washington and Baltimore, and Early was able to get to the outskirts of Washington. He sent some cavalry under Brig. Gen. John McCausland to the west side of Washington. Knowing that he did not have sufficient strength to capture the city, Early demonstrated outside Fort Stevens and Fort DeRussy, and there was skirmishing and artillery duels on July 11 and July 12. Abraham Lincoln watched the fighting on both days from the parapet at Fort Stevens, becoming the only sitting U.S. President to come under hostile military fire. After Early withdrew, he said to one of his officers, "Major, we haven't taken Washington, but we scared Abe Lincoln like hell."
Early crossed the Potomac into Leesburg, Virginia, on July 13 and then withdrew to the Valley. He defeated the Union army under George H. Crook at Kernstown on July 24 1864. Six days later, he ordered his cavalry to burn the city of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in retaliation for Maj. Gen. David Hunter's burning of the homes of several prominent Southern sympathizers in Jefferson County, West Virginia, earlier that month. Through early August, Early's cavalry and guerrilla forces attacked the B&O Railroad in various places.
Grant, losing patience and realizing Early could attack Washington any time he pleased, dealt with the threat by sending out an army under Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan. At times outnumbering the Confederates three to one, Sheridan defeated Early in three battles starting in early August and laid waste to much of the agricultural properties in the Valley, denying their use as supplies for Lee's army. In a brilliant surprise attack, Early routed two thirds of the Union army at the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19 1864, but his troops were hungry and exhausted and fell out of their ranks to pillage the Union camp; Sheridan managed to rally his troops and defeat Early decisively.
Most of the men of Early's corps rejoined Lee at Petersburg in December, while Early remained to command a skeleton force. His force was nearly destroyed at Waynesboro and Early barely escaped capture with a few members of his staff. Lee relieved Early of his command in March 1865, because he doubted Early's ability to inspire confidence in the men he would have to recruit to continue operations. He wrote to Early of the difficulty of this decision:
Early fled when the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered on April 9 1865. He rode horseback to Texas, hoping to find a Confederate force still holding out, then proceeded to Mexico, and from there, sailed to Cuba and Canada. Living in Toronto, he wrote his memoirs, A Memoir of the Last Year of the War for Independence, in the Confederate States of America, which focused on his Valley Campaign. They were published in 1867.
He returned to Virginia in 1869, resuming the practice of law. He was pardoned in 1868 by President Andrew Johnson, but still remained an unreconstructed rebel. He was among the most vocal of those who promoted a bitter Lost Cause movement and who vilified the actions of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet at Gettysburg. He was involved with the Louisiana Lottery along with retired General P.G.T. Beauregard.
At the age of 77, after falling down a flight of stairs, Early died in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery.
Lost Cause themes were taken up by memorial associations such as the United Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, helping in some degree the Southerners to cope with the dramatic social, political, and economic changes in the postbellum era, including Reconstruction.
Early's contributions to the Confederacy's last efforts at survival were very significant. Some historians contend that he extended the war six to nine months because of his efforts at Washington and in the Valley. The following quote summarizes an opinion held by his admirers:
Early was an outspoken believer in white supremacy and despised the abolitionists. In the preface to his memoirs, Early wrote about African Americans as "barbarous natives of Africa" whom he believed were "in a civilized and Christianized condition" as a result of their enslavement. He continued:
Jubal Early was the name of the character portrayed by Pat Morita, the self proclaimed "Handyman" assistant to Jean-Claude Van Damme's lead character, in the 1999 film Inferno, also known in the UK as Desert Heat.