Jubal Early was a valuable and trusted general who fought alongside Lee and Jackson in the Civil War. Known for his straight-laced demeanor, he would sometimes be seen as bitter. Easy to offend, Early gained a reputation as an angry leader best not crossed.
So much was his personality deemed as hard, that General Lee referred to him as “Bad Old Man.” Lee had a way with words as he usually had a nickname for most of the generals who fought with him. Being from Virginia, Early was so angered and offended by Lincoln’s call to arms before the war, that asked for 75,000 volunteers, that he enlisted in the Confederate army.
It was this type of actions that would clarify him as one of the meanest leaders in the war. One of his most impressive moments in the war was during the Battle of Gettysburg where he led his men to occupy the town of York, Pennsylvania.
That was the largest city ever taken by the Confederates in the Civil War. Although the battle was lost, the action taken by early earned him praise and admiration. Early also had an impressive and disappointing showing at the Valley Campaigns of 1864 which took Early to the gates of Washington, D.C. But his delay in tactical maneuvering is said to have been detrimental to the southern cause.
Born in Franklin County, Virginia in 1816, Early was the third of ten children. Having such a large sibling base Jubal Early demonstrated to his family his interest in military operations. During his educational years at West Point, Early was the recipient of the famous plate over the head incident with Lewis Armistead in which resulted in Armisteads’s expulsion.
Their rivalry continued through the war with neither one apologizing at all. A very good student, early went into law after serving in the army during the Mexican War. He also was an impressive lawyer in his own right and once won a case in Mississippi that gained him praise in the judicial community.
During the war, Jubal Early saw action in most of the larger battles and even demonstrated true leadership qualities that got the attention of his superiors. With good showings at 1st Bull Run and Williamsburg, Early then had a reversal of fortune with scathing defeats at 3rd Winchester and Cedar Creek compelling Lee to call him back.
Early did not return right away but instead stayed with a small force that was destroyed at Waynesborough. Although this show of subordination was seen as minimal by Early, Lee was forced to command his resignation and cited that the reasoning was beyond his control.
After the war, Early fled to Mexico to escape persecution as a traitor by the United States but returned after the anger over the rebellion had calmed down. He practiced law and was engaged with The Louisiana Lottery until his death in 1894. Early was a capable and good commander in the eyes of all who fought and died beside him in the Civil War.