The following is the Editor's Letter from the Battle of Cross Keys Issue, Volume 29, #1

Cross Keys Battlefield

“If this Valley is lost, Virginia is lost!”

That quote, attributed to Stonewall Jackson, was the battle cry of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF) during the organization’s sesquicentennial program at Cross Keys. The June 9 event was co-sponsored by the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission and commemorated the battles fought at Cross Keys (June 8, 1862) and Port Republic (June 9).

The sunset event (below) was held on the Widow Sarah Pence farm, a prominent landmark of the Cross Keys battlefield. The widow’s house, a private dwelling, still stands in remarkably fine condition, maintained by owners Dr. Irvin and Nancy Hess.

Rod Graves, SVBF Chairman, spoke before the crowd and described how the surrounding fields 150 years ago “were filled with the wreck and ruin of war, most poignantly, the dead and the dying, the men who fell here and made this hallowed ground.” He thanked the members of the foundation for helping create and maintain a well preserved battlefield.

If you haven’t visited Cross Keys in a while, you’ll find several new sites with interpretation that were not accessible before. This issue’s Driving Tour includes the old and highlights the new sites. In addition to SVBF and the Virginia sesquicentennial commission, the Civil War Trust and the Virginia Civil War Trails program have done a great job bringing this often overlooked battle to visitor friendly prominence.

Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. was the keynote speaker. Also addressing the more than 500 guests was Virginia Lt. Gov. William Bolling, among others. Grammy nominated singer and Shenandoah Valley native Scott Christopher Murray performed.

Preservation was the main focus of the event. Among the sites with new or improved interpretation are the scene of the slaughter of the 8th New York in fields north of the Pence Farm; Artillery Ridge, where Confederate General Richard Ewell placed four batteries along the center of his battle line; and a trail with battlefield vistas from high ground along Goods Mill Road overlooking Isaac Trimble’s and James A. Walker’s attacks.

For a long time battlefield trampers came to the area almost exclusively because of Port Republic, with Cross Keys generally given drive-by status because of a lack of interpretation. That’s all changed.


Editor