Saturday, September 14, 2019, 10 am to 12 noon, we will be out in beautiful Rockingham County for a caravan-walking tour of Cross Keys Battlefield. This tour is free/pay-what-you wish. You can reserve your spot here.
By the time they shuffled through Harrisonburg in the first week of June 1862, Stonewall Jackson’s soldiers were nearing the end of an ordeal. Five weeks earlier they had left this same area of the Valley, and since then they had fought three battles and marched more than 600 miles. Jackson knew his men needed rest, but first he would ask them to stand firm and again meet the enemy. They responded by giving their general two more victories — at Cross Keys on June 8th and at Port Republic the next day June 9, 1862 — bringing one of the great campaigns in military history to a victorious close.
The battle at Cross Keys is overshadowed by its twin, Port Republic, but in many ways Cross Keys is more interesting and instructive to the student of history. The story of the Battle of Cross Keys is a tale of dominant artillery. Both sides relied on the long arm, and few battlefield landscapes illustrate the decisive power of Civil War era artillery as well as does Cross Keys. This 90-minute caravan tour focuses on the use, and misuse, of the big guns that helped decide the result of Jackson’s Valley Campaign. Reserve your spot here.
What We Will Do
We will use maps (provided for everyone) to look closely at the terrain. We will look at the field from at least four vantage points. We will use the stories left to us by the soldiers to understand how the fight evolved and the critical role played by artillery placement. We will share rides and drive short distances to tour stops. We will walk between some stops — total walking distance less than a mile, all of it flat and on grass or on lightly traveled rural roads. Insect repellent, and something to drink might be useful.
We meet at the Cross Keys-Mill Creek Ruritan building at 5094 Battlefield Rd. (marked by a red flag at the very bottom of the map).
To reach Cross Keys from From I-81, take exit 245, Port Republic Rd. (Rte 253) south.
Follow about 5.1 miles to the stoplight at Rte. 276 (Cross Keys Rd.). Turn right (south) on Rte 276, Cross Keys Rd. and follow about 3/4 of a mile to Battlefield Rd. (Rte 679). Turn left and you will soon see the Mill Creek Ruritan building opposite a cemetery. We will gather in the parking area.
Cross Keys is a rural area, and restrooms are scarce. You may wish to stop in Harrisonburg before traveling too far out Port Republic Road.
This tour is free/pay-what-you wish, which means you will not be asked to pay anything, but you will have the opportunity to anonymously pay something at the end of the tour if you are pleased.