"JUBAL: The Life and Times of General Jubal A. Early, CSA, Defender of the Lost Cause" by Charles C. Osborne

"JUBAL: The Life and Times of General Jubal A. Early, CSA, Defender of the Lost Cause"

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Osborne (Verdi, 1987; Schubert and His Vienna, 1985, etc.) makes a solid foray into military biography with this crisp narrative about Lee's pugnacious and erratic subordinate. In swift and unremarkable succession, Osborne relates the salient facts about Jubal Early: son of a wealthy Virginia planter; competent though reluctant West Point cadet; unwilling, and largely inactive, soldier in the Seminole and Mexican Wars, with a brief period as military governor of Monterey; country lawyer and Whig politician (and, ironically in light of his later die-hard Confederate views, a staunch opponent of Virginia's secession ordinance); and general under Lee. While Osborne demonstrates that Early was an effective Civil War battlefield commander, pointing out Early's key roles in such victories as Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, he doesn't neglect his subject's many failings as a man and as a military leader. Osborne describes, for example, Early's pyrrhic victory at Monocacy (which, though a nominal Confederate victory, prevented him from consummating his raid on Washington, D.C.); his failure to take Cemetery Hill on the first day of Gettysburg and his subsequent attempts to blame James Longstreet for the defeat there; and his contemptuous underestimation of his gifted opponent Phil Sheridan and the crack Union cavalry in the 1864 Valley campaign, which contributed to several decisive Confederate disasters. After the war, Early became known as one of the most virulently ""unreconstructed"" of the former Confederates, contributing in writing and public addresses to the creation of the myth of the noble Lost Cause. Osborne breaks little new ground and fails to plumb Early's motives or complex personality; nonetheless, his engaging biography gives clue attention to a Confederate who has been unfairly neglected by Civil War scholars.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
Page count: 608pp
Publisher: Algonquin