Early, Jubal A.


Card signed by Virginia’s “unreconstructed rebel”, Confederate Eastern Theater commander noted for Shenandoah Valley campaigns and advancing near  to Washington



Type:  Signed card
Description:  (1816-1894) USMA 1837, Virginia lawyer, politician, Confederate general. He resigned his US Army commission after the 2nd Seminole War and his Virginia military commission after the Mexican-American War for law and politics. Accepting a Virginia and later CSA military commission as the Civil War began, he fought in the Eastern Theater throughout the War. He led a division under Stonewall Jackson and Richard Ewell, later commanded a corps. A key Confederate defender of the Shenandoah Valley in 1864, he led daring raids to the outskirts of Washington and as far as York, Penna., but was crushed by Union forces under General Sheridan, losing over half his forces and leading to the destruction of much of the South’s food supply. After the war, he fled to Mexico, Cuba then Canada, and upon returning to the US, took pride as an “unrepentant rebel.” After Lee’s death in 1870, he made speeches establishing the “Lost Cause” position.

At West Point, fellow cadet Lewis A. Armistead broke a mess plate over Early’s head, which led to Armistead’s departure; others in his class were Union generals Hooker, Sedgwick & French, and future CSA generals Bragg, Pemberton, Elzey, & Wm. H. T. Walker. Other future generals whose time at West Point overlapped with Early’s included Beauregard, Ewell, E. A. Johnson, McDowell and Meade.  Commissioned a 2nd lieutenant, 3rd US Artillery, fought the Seminoles in Florida. He left the Army in 1838, admitted to the Virginia bar 1840. He served in the House of Delegates 1841-42 then elected Commonwealth’s Attorney for Franklin and Floyd Counties, served to 1852. As Major, 1st Virginia Vols., served 1847-48, arriving too late for combat. In Mexico, he met Jefferson Davis, commanding the 1st Mississippi Vols. Early was elected to the Virginia Secession Convention of 1861. He argued rights of Southerners without slaves were worth protecting as those of slaveholders, but opposed secession.

After Virginia seceded, he became a militia brigadier general, raised 3 Lynchburg regiments and commanded one. On June 19, he became a CSA colonel, commanding the 24th Virginia Infantry. After 1st Manassas in July, he was promoted to brigadier general, his valor at Blackburn’s Ford impressed Beauregard and his charge along Chinn Ridge helped rout Union forces. Early led CSA troops in most major Eastern Theater battles, incl. the Seven Days Battles, 2nd Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and many Shenandoah Valley battles. Lee called Early his “Bad Old Man” owing to his short temper, insubordination, and profanity, but appreciated his aggressive fighting and ability to command. His men called him “Old Jube” or “Old Jubilee” with affection but subordinates complained about minor faults and biting criticism; generally blind to his own mistakes, Early reacted fiercely to criticism or suggestions from below. 

As the May 1862 start of the Peninsular Campaign, without adequate reconnaissance, he led a futile charge through a swamp and wheat field against 2 Union artillery redoubts at the Battle of Williamsburg. On July 1, just before the Battle of Malvern Hill (last of the Seven Days Battles), Early got command of Elzey’s brigade, not engaged in the battle. For the rest of 1862, he served in the 2nd Corps under General Stonewall Jackson. In the No. Virginia Campaign, his immediate superior was Ewell. Early was hailed for his performance at Cedar Mountain. His men timely arrived to reinforce A. P. Hill on Jackson’s left on Stony Ridge at 2nd Manassas.

At Antietam, Early got division command when General Lawton was wounded Sept. 17, after Lawton had command while Ewell recovered after leg amputation. At Fredericksburg, Early saved the day by counterattacking Meade’s division which penetrated a gap in Jackson’s lines. Impressed by Early’s performance, Lee kept him in command of what had been Ewell’s division; he was formally promoted to major general Jan. 17, 1863.

During Chancellorsville, Lee gave Early 9,000 men to defend Fredericksburg at Marye’s Heights against superior forces under Sedgwick. Early delayed Union forces and pinned down Sedgwick while Lee and Jackson attacked Union troops to the west. Sedgwick’s attack on Early up Marye’s Heights on May 3 is sometimes called the 2nd Battle of Fredericksburg. Jackson died May 10 and the recovered Ewell took command of 2nd Corps.

During the Gettysburg Campaign, Early continued leading a division in Ewell’s 2nd Corps. His troops were instrumental in overcoming Union defenders at the 2nd Battle of Winchester and opened up the Shenandoah Valley for Lee’s oncoming forces. Early’s division, with cavalry, marched into Pennsylvania, seizing supplies and horses. He captured Gettysburg June 26 and demanded a ransom, never paid, and threatened to burn down any home harboring a fugitive slave. Two days later, he seized York, Penna. where ransom demands were partially met, York the largest Northern town to fall during the war. Elements of his command on June 28 reached the Susquehanna River, farthest east in Penna. that any organized CSA force penetrated. On June 30, Early was recalled as Lee concentrated his army to meet oncoming Federals. Approaching Gettysburg from the NE on July 1, his division was on the leftmost flank of the Confederate line. He soundly defeated Barlow’s division (part of Union XI Corps) inflicting 3x the casualties as he suffered, and drove US troops through the town capturing many. Ewell denied Early permission to assault East Cemetery Hill to which Union troops had retreated. The assault the following day on the Union right flank failed with many casualties. The delay allowed Union reinforcements to arrive, which repulsed Early’s brigades. On the 3rd day, Early dent a brigade to help in an unsuccessful assault on Culp’s Hill. Parts of his division covered Lee’s army’s rear in its July 4-5 retreat. On May 31, 1864, Lee expressed his confidence in Early, promoting him to the temporary rank of lieut. general.

Early fought well during the Battle of the Wilderness and took command of the ailing A.P. Hill’s 3rd Corps during the march to intercept Grant at Spotsylvania Court House, where Early occupied the right flank of the Mule Shoe. After Hill recovered, Lee assigned Hill to defend Richmond and gave Early command of 2nd Corps which he led at Cold Harbor.

Union Gen. Hunter burned VMI in Lexington on June 11, and was raiding in the Shenandoah Valley, the CSA breadbasket, so Lee sent Early and 8,000 men to defend Lynchburg. Using a ruse involving multiple trains entering town to exaggerate his strength, Early convinced Hunter to retreat back to West Virginia on June 18, in the Battle of Lynchburg. 

During the 1864 Valley Campaigns, Early led the last invasion of the North, secured much-needed funds and supplies and drew off Union troops from the siege of Petersburg. Lee sent Early’s corps to sweep Union forces from the Shenandoah Valley, to menace Washington, to secure supplies, and compel Grant to dilute his forces around Richmond and Petersburg.

Early delayed his march for several days in a futile attempt to capture a small force under Sigel at Maryland Heights near Harper’s Ferry. His delay and extorting Hagerstown and Frederick prevented him from being able to attack Washington. Residents of Frederick paid $200,000 on July 9 to avoid being sacked. Later in July, he sought to extort funds from Cumberland and Hancock, Md. and his cavalry burned Chambersburg, Penna. when it could not pay sufficient ransom.

Lew Wallace delayed Early for a day at Monocacy Junction outside Frederick, which allowed additional Union troops to reach Washington and strengthen defenses. Early caused great panic in Washington and Baltimore, his forces reaching Silver Spring, Md. and the District of Columbia outskirts with skirmishes at Fort Stevens and Fort DeRussy. Artillery traded fire July 11 & 12 and President Lincoln watched the fighting from Fort Stevens. Early retreated across the Potomac to Leesburg, Va., on July 13, then headed toward the Shenandoah Valley. At the July 24 2nd Battle of Kernstown, he defeated Crook, and through early August, his cavalry and guerrilla forces attacked the B&O Railroad to disrupt Union supply lines and secure supplies for themselves. As July ended, Early raided across the Potomac. On July 30, they burned 500+ buildings in Chambersburg, Penna., in retaliation for Hunter’s burning VMI in June as well as the town’s failure to heed ransom demands. His men burned the region’s only bridge across the Susquehanna, impeding commerce and Union troop movements.

Grant in mid-August sent Sheridan to subdue Early and Mosby’s guerillas. Sheridan defeated Early  and laid waste to the Confederacy’s breadbasket to deny supplies to Lee. On Sept. 19, Early lost the 3rd Battle of Winchester. On Sept. 21–22, he lost Strasburg after Sheridan won the Battle of Fisher’s Hill, capturing much of Early’s artillery and 1,000 men, and inflicting 1,235 casualties. On Oct. 19, Early initially routed 2/3 of the Union army at Cedar Creek.

Lee ordered most of the remaining 2nd Corps to rejoin the Army of Northern Virginia defending Petersburg by late November, leaving Early to defend the Valley with an infantry brigade and some cavalry. When Sheridan nearly destroyed CSA forces at Waynesboro on March 2, 1865, Early barely escaped. Lee relieved him of command March 30, ending his CSA career. When Lee surrendered April 9, Early escaped finally to Canada.

President Johnson pardoned Early in 1869, but he remained an “unreconstructed rebel”, justifying the CSA, fostering “The Lost Cause” movement, and resumed his Lynchburg law practice. In his last years, he was an outspoken proponent of White supremacy, justified by his religion. In 1873 Early was elected president of the Southern Historical Association, and also became 1st president of the Lee Monument Association and of the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia. Early’s books were published posthumously: Autobiographical Sketch and Narrative of the War between the States (1912) and The Heritage of the South: a history of the introduction of slavery; its establishment from colonial times and final effect upon the politics of the United States (1915).

Frameable 2 x 3 1/2 card signed “J. A. Early/Lynchburg,/Virginia”

Condition: Very good, mount remnants verso, very tiny pinhole of no affect

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