[General Robert E.] Lee demonstrated his confidence in Early by assigning him difficult tasks. During the Chancellorsville campaign, for example, Early held the front at Fredericksburg while most of the army marched west to confront Joseph Hooker's flanking force. At Gettysburg, Early participated in the successful Confederate assaults on the afternoon of 1 July and advocated a joint attack against Cemetery Hill…. After a stinging reverse at Rappahannock Bridge on 7 November 1863, Early temporarily led the Second Corps during the Mine Run campaign before returning to head his division at the battle of the Wilderness. When illness incapacitated Hill on 8 May 1864, Lee chose Early, who he thought would "make a fine corps commander," as temporary chief of the Third Corps during fighting at Spotsylvania. Another brief stint with his division in mid-May preceded permanent assignment to command the Second Corps on 27 May and promotion to lieutenant general….
Poised to commence his most famous operations, Early was a respected if not loved officer with a reputation as a colorful, profane, and bitingly sarcastic character. A soldier described him in 1864 as "one of the greatest curiosities of the war," a man "about six feet high" whose "voice sounds like a cracked Chinese fiddle, and comes from his mouth somewhat in the style of a hardshell Baptist with a long drawl, accompanied by an interpolation of oaths." His men called him "Old Jube" or "Old Jubilee" and appreciated his aggressiveness in combat.