Monday, September 10, 2012
By the late spring, Early had succeeded to command of the old Second Corps with the rank of lieutenant general. Despite the corps' losses in the Wilderness battles that spring, Early was able to muster about 8,000 muskets, which he led to Lynchburg, Virginia in mid-June. This inferior number would face twice that amount under Union arms. But Jubal was up to the task.
Outspoken and often acidic with his opinions, Early did not cut a dashing figure, "He was six feet high, but a stoop of the shoulder caused by rheumatism," the general was known for his "Independent mind", self-reliance, and his expertise in strategy.
Early "was an able strategist", recalled General John B. Gordon. By June 1864 Gordon was a major general in command of one of Early's divisions. In contrast to the plain Early, Gordon embodied the model of Southern generalship, though he gave the artful Early his due respect for his commander was "one of the coolest and most imperturbable of men under fire and in extremity."
If anything, Early was willing to take chances. His arrival at Lynchburg caused the retreat of Hunter's forces. The chase down the Shenandoah Valley began. Within three weeks, Early's troops were across the Potomac River where they would be threatening the Nation's capitol itself. Audacious and quick, Jubal Early took his minimal force into Union territory and through tactically did not achieve a great victory, his summer campaign achieved a needed moral boost to the worsening Confederate situation.
John Paul Strain art...