Lieutenant General Jubal Early: Commander of Confederate forces at the Battle of Monocacy on July 9,1864
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.
The Civil War
Although Early voted against secession, he remained loyal to Virginia and was commissioned as a colonel in the 24th Virginia Infantry. Early participated in numerous battles and campaigns including the Battle of First Bull Run (18 July 1861) where he distinguished himself and was promoted to brigadier general. He also fought in the Peninsula Campaign, Malvern Hill (1 July 1862), Cedar Mountain (9 August 1862), Second Bull Run (26 August 1862), and Antietam (17 September 1862).
At Antietam, Confederate Brigadier General Jubal Early led a brigade under Stonewall Jackson in the West Woods near the Dunker Church. He participated in the massacre in the West Woods that brought the morning phase of that battle to an end.
At Fredericksburg (13 December 1862), General Early distinguished himself once again and was promoted to the rank of major general. He went on to take part in Chancellorsville (1-4 May 1863), Gettysburg (1-3 July 1863), Mine Run operations, the Wilderness (5-7 May 1864), Spotsylvania (7-19 May 1864; after which he was promoted to lieutenant general), and Cold Harbor (1-3 June 1864).
A Final Campaign in the North
On July 5, 1864, Early led the South's third and final invasion of the North. Crossing into Maryland, Early made his way through Frederick on his way to try to invade the sparsely defended Union capital of Washington, D.C. Along the way, he demanded ransoms from Hagerstown, Maryland and Frederick, Maryland.
At Monocacy Junction, on July 9, 1864, General Early's forces were delayed for an entire day by Union Major General Lew Wallace's troops. After regrouping on the battlefield, Early's troups marched toward Washington, D.C., but the delay forced by the Battle of Monocacy allowed the fortifications around the Capital to be strengthened, and Early's attempt to capture the city was thwarted. On July 12th, he began the retreat back to Virginia.
Although he failed to capture the Capital, the campaign apparently pleased him, as recounted by Major Henry Kyd Douglas. On the evening Of July 12, 1864, after deciding to withdraw from Washington, General Early called his staff together and declared: "Major we haven't taken Washington, but we scared Abe Lincoln like hell!"
After this final incursion into the North failed, Early continued to engage Union forces in a series of battles until March 1865 when he was relieved of command. Once the Confederacy surrendered, Early fled west to Mexico and from there sailed to Canada. Eventually, he returned to Lynchburg, Virginia where he resumed his law practice. Jubal Early died in Lynchburg on March 2, 1894 and is buried at Springhill Cemetery.
Last updated: April 10, 2015