History In Ink®  Historical Autographs







Jubal A. Early

You have been misinformed, or your circular was directed to me by mistake.

Jubal Anderson Early, 1816–1894.  Confederate Lieutenant General, American Civil War.  Scarce Autographed Note Signed, J. A. Early, on 3” x 5⅛” postal card, [Lynchburgh, Virginia, March 28, 1886].

Early responds to a request for information about Richard Realf, a poet who had been a confidant of John Brown and who later served in the 88th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.  Some of Realf’s best lyrics were written in the field and were widely circulated.  Early, however, in his typical blunt fashion, pointedly denies knowing him“I have no knowledge whatever of a person by the name of Richard Realf, and of course have no poems or letters of his.  You have been misinformed, or your circular was directed to me by mistake.”

Early was an important Confederate commander.  An irascible sort, Early was critical of his subordinates and was quick to find fault in them.  General Robert E. Lee called him his “Bad Old Man” because of his short temper.  Yet Early took charge of his troops and was not afraid to act independently, qualities that Lee appreciated.  Early served under the command of General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and figured prominently in the battles of Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. 

In July 1864, in an effort to force Union General Ulysses S. Grant to dilute his forces at Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia, Lee sent Early, with 15,000 men, on a swing through the Shenandoah Valley and toward Washington, D.C.  Early’s troops marched unopposed until they were some five miles from Washington.  During two days’ battles around Fort Stevens and Fort DeRussy, President Abraham Lincoln watched from the parapet at Fort Stevens, a tall and inviting target for Confederate sharpshooters.  Reportedly Lincoln took the advice of a Union Captain Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.—later a renowned Justice of the United States Supreme Court—who shouted, “Get down, you damned fool, before you get shot!”  Early ultimately withdrew his forces but told reportedly one of his commanders, “Major, we haven’t taken Washington, but we scared Abe Lincoln like hell.” 

Early’s autograph material is scarce.  This is a beautiful, bold example of his holograph and signature.  He has written the note in jet black ink on the blank back of a 1¢ brown Jefferson postal card.  The card is generally toned, with slightly darker toning at the left blank margin, and it has a small damp stain at the upper right and light bending at the upper and lower right corners.  The card is postmarked at Lynchburgh, Virginia—reflecting the spelling of the city’s name before it was changed to the current spelling “Lynchburg.”  It is self-addressed on the front by the collector who solicited Early’s response, and mounting traces on the front from prior mounting in an album cover part of the collector’s name and address.  Overall the piece is in fine condition, and the handwriting and signature are very fine.




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