Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Jubal Early: Robert E. Lee's "Bad Old Man."

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Jubal Early: Robert E. Lee's "Bad Old Man."

Article excerpt

Jubal Early: Robert E. Lee's "Bad Old Man." By Benjamin Franklin Cooling III. (Lanham, Md., and other cities: Rowman and Littlefield, 2014. Pp. xiv, 201. $38.00, ISBN 978-0-8108-8913-2.)

The name Jubal A. Early is rarely mentioned in the same refrain with other great Confederate generals, yet Benjamin Franklin Cooling III's latest biography of Robert E. Lee's "bad old man" calls attention to the remarkable, and often controversial, contributions of this overlooked stalwart of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Early was an unlikely Confederate hero. An outspoken pro-Union Whig before the war, he actively opposed his home state leaving the Union at the April 1861 Virginia secession convention. Moreover, Early had deliberately avoided a professional army career, fulfilling his required obligation after graduating from West Point and then resigning to pursue a career in law. But after serving as a volunteer in the U.S.-Mexican War, he quickly discovered that military leadership was his calling. In the Civil War he served capably as a regimental, brigade, and then division commander in the eastern theater, rising to become one of Lee's most reliable subordinates. Although he garnered a reputation for his strict discipline and cantankerous personality, Early distinguished himself in nearly every major battle from first Manassas through the Overland campaign. This success, however, did not follow Early once he was given an independent command in the Shenandoah Valley in June 1864. His abortive attempt to capture Washington, D.C., in July, followed by the crippling defeat at Cedar Creek in October, transitioned him from trustworthy lieutenant to disgraced pariah. Early ended the war removed from command and professionally ostracized by the Confederate leadership.

The chapters examining Early's postbellum life and remembrance are easily the most compelling and the most in need of further exploration. …

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