Jubal Early (1816-1894) fought two big wars during his life. About 150 years ago, Early played an important role as a general for the Confederacy, fighting his way up the ranks until he was eventually given an independent command by top Confederate general Robert E. Lee in late 1864. Early served under Stonewall Jackson and Lee, rising from regiment commander to Corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia, and he played crucial roles in key battles like Gettysburg and in the Shenandoah Valley campaigns. During his raid toward Washington, DC, his forces nearly killed President Lincoln during a battle at Fort Stevens, making Lincoln the only sitting president to come under live fire.
However, it was Early's writing that truly changed history. During the 1870s, Early was one of the writers for the Southern Historical Society who helped establish the Lost Cause, a cultural phenomenon that dominated the writing of Civil War history for a century and is still a widely held view today. His autobiography, Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early, Confederate States of America, is a perfect example of Lost Cause writing, in which the Confederacy is unable to overcome the North's vast advantage in men and resources. The Lost Cause was primarily a creation of men from Virginia, so in turn they deified the Virginian Lee, and are widely responsible for Lee's immense popularity today. And since Lee could do no wrong in their eyes, writers like Early looked for others to blame for the South's loss, especially at Gettysburg, which was widely viewed then and now as the chief turning point of the war.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors