He certainly wasn't perfect, but Lee's "Bad Old Man" could certainly do some fighting.
Agreed with that assesment. As ole` Jubal put it to a major "we haven't taken Washington, but we scared Abe Lincoln like hell."I tend to agree with Bill. Early's mission was a desperate hail-mary attempt to distract Grant and give Lee some breathing room. Early accomplished all that could be realistically expected of him but it was ultimately for naught.
I don't think you can call Early's operations from June to October a single campaign. I think it was two campaigns, one from June to August and another from August to October. The dividing point is Sheridan being appointed to command the Union forces facing Early.
In the first campaign, Early was not only successful but was spectacularly successful. He drove Union forces out of the Valley, reduced the pressure on Lee by drawing off the XI Corps and part of another corps from Petersburg, secured critical agricultural land for the Confederacy, humiliated the Lincoln administration by coming so close to Washington at a time when Lincoln was increasingly likely to lose the 1864 election, gathered supplies and secured money from enemy territory, raised Southern morale, lowered Northern morale, and inflicted three tactical defeats on the Union army (Monocacy, Cool Springs, and Second Kernstown). And all this with a force of only about 14,000 men!
In the second campaign, it can't be said that it was a success. Early successively lost three battles against Sheridan (Third Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek) and his army was basically wrecked. But it was far from a humiliating failure. With between 15,000-20,000 men against Sheridan's 45,000 or so, Early fought hard and inflicted heavy casualties at Third Winchester and pulled off a spectacular surprise attack at Cedar Creek. I frankly doubt anyone could have done a better job than Early did.
Which was really all he could have been expected to do.Early stayed in the Valley until March of 1865, when his entire force, minus him and his staff, was captured by G A Custer at the battle of Waynesboro. He stopped Hunter cold at Lynchburg and ran the Feds out of the Valley, but all it really did was postpone the inevitable. Still, I think it's a good question.
His "Fatal Pause" at Cedar Creek was his failure. He should have heeded the advice of Gen. Gordon, and victory would have been the result.