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Jubal Anderson Early
Civil War Encyclopedia >> People - Confederate Military
Son of a tobacco farmer, Jubal Early was born in Franklin County, Virginia, and grew up on his father's farm. In 1833 he attended West Point, graduating in 1837. Fresh from the Academy he entered the Second Seminole War as a second lieutenant but resigned his commission in 1838.
He became a member of the Virginia bar in 1840, later serving as prosecutor for both Franklin County and Floyd County, Virginia. After returning to active duty for the Mexican American War, Early continued to serve to the bar following the war. His political experience included time in the Virginia legislature as a Whig. At Virginia's secessionist convention Early served as a member of the military committee and strived to maintain the Union. When that failed he continued to support the state, accepting a commission as a brigadier general in the militia. During the convention he penned this about his future commander, Robert E. Lee:
Those who witnessed his appearance before the convention saw his manly bearing and heard the few grave, dignified and impressive words with which he consecrated himself and his sword to the cause of his native state, can never forget that scene. All felt at once that we had a leader worthy of the State and the cause.
Manassas (Bull Run)
In June, 1861, under P. G. T. Beauregard Colonel Early became one of six brigade commanders (technically, Brigade Colonel) in the Alexandria Line. A few days before First Manassas, Early advanced in support of James Longstreet during a sharp skirmish at Blackburn's Ford. During the battle of Manassas, it was Early and Arnold Elzey who came up to the Chinn House and attacked the Union right flank (Otis Howard's Brigade) during the heaviest fighting at Henry Hill. As the Union right collapsed, General P. G. T. Beauregard ordered the general advance that sent the Yankees scurrying in defeat.
When Longstreet asked Daniel Harvey Hill to supply a reserve at Williamsburg during the Peninsula Campaign, Hill sent Early forward. Early proposed an attack against Winfield Scott Hancock's line, in which Hill led two regiments and Early the other two. As the Confederates came out of the woods they realized the distance to Hancock's fortified position was further than thought, but it appeared as though Hancock was withdrawing. Indeed, Hancock was in the initial stages of withdrawal but the appearance of the Confederates gave him the reason he needed to stay. Coming to within 100 yards of the Union line, Hill and then Early called retreat. The advance was a bloody mistake and Early was wounded and replaced by Samuel Garland.
Early recovered quickly and resumed command, then headed west with Stonewall Jackson in July, 1862 after the Seven Days.
When Nathaniel Banks attacked Jackson's Rebel line at the Battle of Cedar Mountain (Cedar Run), his brigade held the center of Jackson's line and came under heavy attack. At the height of battle two brigades struck Early's left flank. William Taliaferro's brigade moved up in support and the Confederate line held. Unfortunately, a second attack struck the lightly held left flank of Jackson's army and rolled his line from his left. As the unexpected attack struck Taliaferro's flank his men withdrew and exposed Early's left flank. As the leftmost regiments fled, Jubal Early tried to reorganize his line into a near 90 degree salient, a dangerous move intended to protect his remaining regiments and the rest of Jackson's line.
Now two things happened nearly simultaneously. A. P. Hill's light division moved to strike Nathan Banks weakly held left flank and the Stonewall Brigade moved up to support Early's left flank. The Stonewall Brigade struck full force against the federals. Union soldiers had been so involved in fighting pockets of Rebel resistance and driving Early's brigade back that many of them never saw the Stonewall Brigade coming. The Confederates began driving the bluecoats back towards Nathan Banks' original line. At this point both Taliaferro and Early reorganized their men and began to advance following the men of the Stonewall Brigade, but John Pope's Army of Virgina arrived in support of Banks.
On August 22, 1862, Jackson ordered his men north to the Rappahannock and Early was the first to cross the rain-swollen river. The next morning he awoke to a surprise. The dam he had used the previous day had washed out and Early's men were separated from the Confederate Army by an unfordable river. Federal cavalry brushed his lines near Warrenton (Springs), and was slowly being reinforced with infantry. Jackson ordered Dick Ewell forward to assess the situation and Ewell quickly ordered Early to withdraw across a hastily constructed bridge. This action is generally regarded as the start of the Second Manassas Campaign, part of the Northern Virginia Campaign
Second Manassas did not start well for Jubal Early - he was passed over for command of wounded Dick Ewell's division. Alexander Lawton, a fellow brigadier had seniority and assumed command of the division following Ewell's devastating wound at Groveton. Early had limited involvement at Manassas, first in support of A. P. Hill at Groveton, then joining Maxcy Gregg at a critical moment of Second Manassas on August 29 at the railroad cut. Later, when one of Lawton's brigades broke during battle on August 31, 1862, Early's men again came under Union fire.
At Sharpsburg, Early would become division commander when Alexander Lawton was wounded. At the start of the battle, however, Ol' Jube held a position in the West Woods, initially arriving in support of John Bell Hood, under attack just north of Dunker Church. Early immediately began a sharp attack against Joseph Mansfield's 12th Corps from the woods, helping relieve the pressure on Hood.
Stonewall Jackson's Confederates were thinly stretched north of Dunker Church when Edwin Vose Sumner and John Sedgwick led about half of Sumner's 2nd Corps in a blistering frontal assault on Early's line about 10:00 am. Early and Hood had been calling for reinforcements and just as the Yankees were making headway, General Lafayette McLaws arrived, catching Sedwick's right flank, breaking the attack and nearly killing Sedgwick and Sumner. Following the withdrawal, Early supported William Pendleton's rear guard action at Boteler's Ford
Stonewall Jackson chose Jubal Early to command Dick Ewell's division, putting "Extra Billy" Smith in command of Early's old brigade. The assignment would be temporary until approved, which would not happen until after the battle of Fredericksburg. Jackson's Second Corps was now comprised of Jackson's own division, A. P. Hill's division, Daniel Harvey Hill's division, and Ewell's division under Early.
On December 4, 1862, Generals Jubal Early and Daniel Harvey Hill were down the Rappahonnock River at Port Royal watching the lower crossings and making sure a federal force didn't sneak around behind the Confederates. Jubal Early saw the Union Navy in the bay near Port Royal, Virginia and ordered artillery fire in an attempt to harass them. Hill's infantry and nearby artillery units under John Pelham continued the harassment when Early was ordered by Stonewall Jackson up the river to an undefended section of the Rappahannock River known as Skinker's Crossing. When Union Commander Ambrose Burnside arrived on December 5th, he opted to forgo crossing the river in the face of Early's well-positioned forces. Instead he moved toward Fredricksburg on the northern bank of the river.
On December 12, 1862 Lee realized that Ambrose Burnside had massed the entire Army of the Potomac in front of the Army of Northern Virginia's position, so he ordered Early and Hill to join him south of the city. He came into line behind Harvey Hill, part of Jackson's 40,000 man section on the right of Lee's line. Hill came under attack by George Meade's Pennsylvania division and when Maxcy Gregg was mortally wounded, Meade captured a key road.
With some 4,000 veterans, Meade prepared to make a stand. He looked for William Franklin [US] to support him as ordered, but Franklin was nowhere around. Early received orders to "hold in readiness," but when Harvey Hill's retreating men brought word of a terrible gap in the front line Early advanced to the battle, waved on by a dying Maxcy Gregg. William Taliaferro [CS] joined in the attack and soon Meade's force was in full retreat. Early remained in this position for the rest of the battle.
Actually, Early remained near that position for the next several months. When Lee moved a few miles west to the Chancellor home, Early remained at Marye's Heights south of Fredericksburg. He began moving towards Lee's position as ordered, leaving a small force to guard for flanking attacks, less than a mile down the Plank Road he was informed of a large federal presence near Fredericksburg and returned. As word reach Early of Lee's success during the first day of battle at Chancellorsville he was preparing to engage two corps under John Sedgwick that crossed the Rappahanock River on a rapidly constructed pontoon bridge.
From Lee's Hill Early watched Sedgwick's men and artillery drive William Barksdale's brigade from Marye's Heights. Early prepared to counterattack the following morning. John B. Gordon's brigade was chosen to lead the attack and Early would ride with them. When they reached the Heights, the Confederates found no Yankees. They had only taken the position to protect the corps' flank, which was now west of Fredericksburg on its way to Chancellorsville. Early pursued Sedgwick, who fought the Battle of Salem Church before being forced across the Rappahannock.
March to Gettysburg
With the return of Dick Ewell to command the 2nd Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia in late May, Early was given command of a division under his old division commander. General Ewell used Early's plan to attack federals under Robert Milroy, who retreated to the supposed safety of Winchester, Virginia. As the Yankees were distracted by Confederate demonstrations on June 14, 1863, Early took high ground above one of Milroy's positions. After an hour's bombardment by Early, Milroy decided to withdraw from Winchester under cover of darkness. Although he fought additional engagements, Milroy's command was intact when he reached Harper's Ferry.
On June 22, Lee ordered Ewell into Pennsylvania towards Harrisburg, with Early piercing South Mountain and heading east through Gettysburg and York. The main goal was to gather supplies while Lee distracted Joe Hooker. After destroying an iron mill owned by abolitionist Thadeus Stevens, Early advanced to Gettysburg, passing through on June 27. From there, he continued to York, cutting the North Central Railroad and the Columbia Bridge across the Susquehanna River, severing Hooker's communication with Harrisburg. York was the largest Northern town to fall to the Rebels during the war. Early received $28,000 in tribute from the frightened Pennsylvania Dutch citizens of York as well as shoes, bread, sugar, coffee and beef. One citizen described Early's men as "wearing masks of dirt, with eyes gleaming through." In return for the tribute, Early spared the town from destruction.
On July 1, 1863, Jubal Early was headed towards Harrisburg when Dick Ewell's order to advance on Gettysburg arrived. He turned southwest, moving into battle line formation as he approached the sound of fighting. This was no ordinary, four-abreast formation. Early's division approached Gettysburg along Huntersville Road and the York Turnpike in a battle-line of three brigades, more than a mile wide, striking the flank of the Union's XI Corps. Although Barlow's division fought hard, Early and fellow division commander Robert Rodes overpowered him. The collapse of the Union line forced the Army of the Potomac to withdraw to high ground south of the city of Gettysburg.
During Early's battle against the XI Corps, newly appointed division commander Francis Barlow was severely wounded. With Early's permission, three Confederate surgeons examined the wounded leader, only to give him bad news. His wounds were fatal. Barlow, however, did recover.
Jubal Early joined Dick Ewell and Robert Rodes at a conference with General Lee towards the end of the day. Lee wanted Ewell to continue his advance, taking Culp's Hill on the Union right. Early, who wrote the only description of the meeting, claimed that the men had been through a long march and a fierce battle and needed rest. Ewell and Rodes agreed and Lee backed off from his request.
In the evening of July 2, 1863, Jubal Early's division struck Cemetery Hill from the northeast, Robert Rodes from the northwest and "Allegheny" Johnson hit Culp's Hill. Union lines, depleted to support troops under attack by James Longstreet seemed doomed to fail until last minute support arrived from a variety of places. Early's attack failed to gain important ground south of Gettysburg.
Battle of the Wilderness
Battle of Cold Harbor
Early died from a tumble downstairs
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A. P. Hill
Jubal Anderson Early was last changed on - September 14, 2009
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