Jubal Early was born in Franklin County, Virginia on November 3, 1816,the third child of ten. When he was sixteen his mother died and the following year he received an appointment as
a cadet to West Point. In 1837,
he graduated 18th out of a class of 50. After serving in the army in the Seminole Wars in Florida, Early returned to Virginia where he studied law. After becoming a lawyer in 1840, he served in the Virginia Legislature during the 1841 and 1842 sessions. Though he lost reelection the following year, he received an appointment as prosecuting attorney, which he held until 1851. In 1844, Early
mustered back into the army as a major. During the United States' war with Mexico, Early performed garrison duties, including a two month stint as military governor in Monterrey, Mexico. In April 1848, he once again was mustered out of service and returned home to continue his law practice.
Always an irascible officer, Jubal A. Early suffered overwhelming defeats in the Shenandoah Valley and went on after the conflict to wage a literary war with a fellow Confederate corps commander. A West Pointer (1837) from Virginia, Early had served one year in the artillery, and later in the Mexican War as a major of volunteers,before
taking up law. Also involved in politics, he served in the legislature.
Although he voted against secession at the convention, he entered the military where his assignments included: colonel, 24th Virginia (early 1861); commanding 6th Brigade (in 1st Corps from July 20), Army of the
Potomac June 20-October 22, 1861); brigadier general, CSA July 21, 1861);commanding brigade, Van Dorn
's Division (in Potomac District until March), Department of Northern Virginia (October 22, 1861-May 5, 1862); commanding Eizey's Brigade, Ewell's Division, 2nd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia Uuly
1-September 17, 1862); commanding the division (September 17, 1862-November 1863; ca. December 4-15, 1863; February-May 7; and May 21-27, 1864); major general, CSA (April 2 3 to rank from January 17, 1863); commanding the corps (November-ca. December 4, 1863 and May 27-June 13, 1864); commanding Valley District, Department of Northern Virginia (December 15, 1863 February 1864 and June 13,
1864-March 29, 1865); commanding 3rd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia (May 7-21, 1864); and lieutenant general, CSA (May 31, 1864).
Leading a brigade at 1st Bull Run
, he was wounded at the latter. Returning to duty, he was given another command on the day of Malvern Hill
. At Cedar Mountain
and 2nd Bull Run
he directed this unit and continued until he succeeded to division level at Antietam
. He went on to Fredericksburg
and commanded the corps in the Mine Run operations
. Detached, he commanded in the Shenandoah during the winter of 1863-64. After the Battle of the Wilderness
he took over
temporary control of Hill's Corps during the operations at Spotsylvania
. He directed his division at the North Anna and took over Ewell's Corps before Cold Harbor
A couple of weeks later this command was sent back to the Valley and Early invaded Maryland, fighting
at Monocacy and on the outskirts of Washington. Falling back to Virginia, he dispatched part off his cavalry to burn Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in retaliation for Union devastation. In September and October he was defeated in a series of disasters at the hands of Sheridan. The reverses at 3rd Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek
ended his power in the Valley and the old 2nd Corps and was recalled to Lee in December.
However, Early remained with a small force that was destroyed at Waynesborough
the following March. Lee then removed him, explaining that he was forced to by public reaction and the fact that he could not defend his subordinate without revealing how weak the Confederacy was. Early fled to Mexico but soon returned to practice law. He was connected with the Louisiana Lottery and was president of the
Southern Historical Society. Becoming a defender of Lee, he feuded with Republican convert James Longstreet until his death.