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Jubal Early’s grave in Lynchburg, Virginia

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For three days in late June 1863, the phrase “General Early” was quite familiar to many of the 60,000+ residents of York County, Pennsylvania. Confederate Major General Jubal Anderson Early, a vitriolic commander noted as much for his profane temper as for his considerable fighting ability, marched into the heart of the county with more than 6,600 enemy troops.

They burned railroad bridges and turntables, took down telegraph wires, procured or stole more than 400 horses and dozens of mules from terrified or angry farmers, and seized control of the major roadways. They also indirectly led to the destruction of the region’s only bridge across the mile-wide Susquehanna River, disrupting commerce. Early to make matters worse laid a tribute on the town for $100,000; borough leaders went door to door and collected $28,610 of the requested levy. That money would help finance the Confederate war effort. [It must be noted that the Union army and state militia also took horses and personal property from the citizens, as did JEB Stuart’s Rebel cavalrymen, but it was Early who elicited most of the reaction from the populace.]

IMG-20140910-00304This portrait of Jubal Early hangs in the vestibule of the office for the Spring Hill Cemetery at 3000 Fort Avenue in Lynchburg, Virginia. Scores of former Confederate soldiers are buried here, including the controversial Early and two other generals, Thomas T. Munford and James Dearing (the last CSA general to die in the War Between the States).

IMG-20140910-00302The graves of Munford, Early, and Dearing all lie in the same general area of Spring Hill Cemetery and are a short walk uphill from the office. This Virginia Civil War Trails marker recounts the history of the cemetery and its three most famous residents.

Another notable burial is Major John Warwick Daniel, who was chief of staff to Lt. Gen. Richard S.Ewell during the Gettysburg Campaign. Colonel Kirkwood Otey is also buried here; he commanded the 11th Virginia in Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg where he suffered a painful wound to his shoulder.

IMG-20140910-00319Near the sales office is this impressive memorial. Spring Hill Cemetery was established in 1852 and notable architect John Notman developed the design and final plans. Notman also laid out Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery and Laurel Hill Cemetery in his hometown of Philadelphia. The first interment took place in 1855, and the cemetery remains in active use today.

IMG-20140910-00313Army of Northern Virginia commander Robert E. Lee deemed General Early as “my bad old man.” Early’s temper became legendary. As a division commander, he was aggressive, hard-hitting, and often successful. During the Gettysburg Campaign he and his men performed brilliantly at the Second Battle of Winchester from June 13-15, 1863, and then marched relatively unopposed through Maryland into Pennsylvania.

IMG-20140910-00307Early’s forces were the first Confederate troops to enter Gettysburg when they chased off what early deemed as “utterly inefficient” state militiamen in brief skirmishes on Friday, June 26, 1863. After resting overnight, on Saturday morning they marched eastward into York County.

SLM at Old Jube graveYork County author Scott L. Mingus, Sr. recounts the story of Jubal Early’s march through south-central Pennsylvania in his acclaimed and oft-reprinted book, Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Confederate Expedition to the Susquehanna River, June 1863 (Savas Beatie, 2009).

Early and his men camped in three locations in York County on Saturday night, June 27. The general placed most of his men around Big Mount and took his evening dinner at the Widow Elizabeth Zinn’s home, where he and his staff enjoyed a hearty, home-cooked Pennsylvania German meal. Early’s remaining infantrymen, a Georgia brigade under Brig. Gen. John B. Gordon, camped at Farmers, Pennsylvania, while the 35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry quartered between Spring Forge (now Spring Grove) and Nashville.

IMG-20140910-00317After emissaries from York negotiated with General Gordon for the peaceful occupation of their borough, Early marched into downtown York on Sunday, June 28, 1863. He surrounded the town with infantry and artillery and set up his headquarters in the sheriff’s office in the county courthouse. Sampling York County cigars (the veteran Early was a heavy smoker), he discussed matters with local Judge Robert Fisher, who refused to play along with the general’s demands for keys to locked offices full of important county paperwork. Fisher’s wife Mary, however, feared that Early might “unleash the dogs of war” on the helpless populace.

Early did burn a few railroad cars, but left the town intact (despite some fears that he might apply the torch to York’s private and public buildings). He marched his men away on Tuesday, June 30, upon receiving orders from Ewell that Lee was concentrating his widely scattered army near Heidlersburg and Cashtown. Years later Early would joke that York had shorted him; he wanted the rest of his $100,000 ransom, with interest, else he (then a Lynchburg attorney) would turn the matter over to a collection agency.

JubalEarlyIn the next installment, we will look at James Dearing’s and Thomas Munford’s livesĀ  and their graves.