Jubal Early Drive

A motorist waits to turn on to Jubal Early Drive from Plaza Drive. The major Winchester thoroughfare bears the name of a Conferate general, which some people believe should be changed.

WINCHESTER — Jubal Early seems an unlikely candidate to have a Winchester street named in his honor.

Early was a Confederate Civil War general and unrepentant white supremacist from Franklin County. He never lived in Winchester, but commanded troops during the Second Battle of Winchester in June 1863 and defended the Shenandoah Valley from Union forces in 1864.

Early’s military downfall began on Sept. 19, 1864, when he lost the Third Battle of Winchester. He rallied his troops on the morning of Oct. 19, 1864, and routed the Union army at the onset of the Battle of Cedar Creek near Middletown. However, instead of continuing his mission to drive Union soldiers out of the Shenandoah Valley, Early and his men stopped to plunder food, clothing and equipment, which gave U.S. Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan enough time to rally his Union army and ultimately win the Battle of Cedar Creek. It marked the beginning of the end for the Confederates.

Early was no longer part of the Confederate army by the time it surrendered in 1865. Commanding Gen. Robert E. Lee had stripped him of his command after Early lost the confidence of Confederate officers and soldiers.

Early spent the next four years hiding in Mexico, Cuba and Canada. He returned to Virginia in 1869 after being pardoned by U.S. President Andrew Johnson, but continued to justify the Confederate cause until his death on March 2, 1894, in Lynchburg.

His post-war defense of the Confederacy’s principles, including slave ownership, inspired what became known as the Lost Cause movement, which romanticized the Confederacy and resulted in many Southern communities, including Winchester, erecting statues in the early 20th century that glorified the failed Confederate cause.

Former Winchester Mayor Stewart Bell Jr. was among those who viewed Early as a proud defender of the Shenandoah Valley and its resources. During Bell’s tenure as mayor from 1972 to 1980, he repeatedly advocated for the naming of a local road in Early’s honor.

Winchester Planning Director Timothy Youmans, an avid local historian, said Bell’s wish came true on Feb. 12, 1991, when City Council approved a resolution that designated the city’s new east-west thoroughfare as Jubal Early Drive.

But recent nationwide civil rights protests have prompted some Winchester residents to question why the city has a street named after Early, who once wrote that slavery should be commended for providing “a great improvement in the moral and physical condition of the negro race.”

On June 23, City Council initiated a process to determine if Jubal Early Drive should be renamed. Officials in Rouss City Hall posted a public survey to collect feedback from local residents.

If City Council decides to rename Jubal Early Drive, approximately 80 business addresses would need to be updated, Youmans said. City staff would recommend a 60- to 120-day grace period before the road is officially renamed, giving those businesses enough time to order new business cards, envelopes and so on.

No homeowners would be affected, Youmans said, because there are no residences on Jubal Early Drive.

Regardless of what City Council decides, Youmans said the legacy of Jubal Early, who Lee called “Bad Old Man” because of his temper and use of profanity, will live on.

“Changing the name of a road doesn’t erase history,” Youmans said. “It just changes the name of a road.”

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

(16) comments


Survey and consider the business owners' opinions. I had a store there for 16 or 17 years and have retired, but I hated having to spell the name to each and every supplier, customer, and delivery driver. I knew his history when it was named and was supprised when it was named for him. Most southerners fought for their state first, their country second. And most accepted the increased federalism after the war and reintegrated into a changed society. Early never did. Times change; change is really the only constant.... On a different note, if it is renamed for Spotswood Poles, please just call it Poles Boulevard or Poles Road..... Simplicity helps if the businesses have to adapt to a change. With all the hatred and vitriol spewed in these times, we can be civil, take a few weeks/months and decide without making snide remarks and hatred the norm.


‘Changing the name of a road doesn’t erase history’? Duh? History cannot be changed but the way we move forward from here can be and needs to change. This is 2020. It’s about time to include other folks in this great American history and put an end to racist tyrants like Jubal Early who stood for hate and fought against the unity of our states and of this country! Why is any street named after this Loser!!


How long before people wake up and call for the removal of "Stewart Bell Jr." and all the Bell family from anything named after them in Winchester? I mean, since they supported the naming of a street for a racist figure, contemporary culture DEMANDS that they be considered racist too, right? Of course, this is the logical conclusion if the current cancel culture's mad ideas are taken to their logical conclusion. We will always make incorrect conclusions when we attempt to apply current societal mores to historical figures. Historical figures must be judged using the mores and beliefs of their time.

Bernie Mac

"all the Bell family" Really? Punishing all for the sins of the father. As an American, I find this attitude particularly offensive! However, I will not hold it against your spouse and children.


Didn't you cast shade on someone who was associated with the other (black) Bell family just a couple months ago?


Brown University is named after the family of trans-Atlantic slave traders. My question is: Do the attackers of Confederate heritage also recommend renaming Brown University?


Obviously the folks on the city council have nothing better to do than waste tax money. I think the residents of Winchester City deserve better.


"He returned to Virginia in 1869 after being pardoned by U.S. President Andrew Jackson". Um...I believe that you may have meant to say U.S. President Andrew Johnson. Andrew Jackson was long dead and mouldering in his grave by then.


Great reporting by the Star!




Reread he said it correctly?!


Thank you to the author for a very detailed history of Jubal Early. Knew his name most of my life but never knew the history during or after the war.

Hard to believe it was only changed in 1991.

Thank you to Mr. Youmans for his information.


"Changing the name of a road doesn’t erase history,” Youmans said. “It just changes the name of a road.” Exactly.


It's a shame that stupid people do not realize this. However, you can't teach some people anything.


Blondie: As my grandmother said many moons ago, "you can't teach stupid"!!!



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