Battle of Cross Keys, 8 June 1862

The penultimate battle of Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862 (American Civil War). After forcing General Banks’s out of the valley after the battle of Winchester (25 May), Jackson briefly moved towards the Potomac, before turning south in an attempt to escape from the Union counterattack. Two strong Union forces

T55
Shenandoah Valley
in 1862 showing
Stonewall Jackson's
movements

were converging on Strasburg, in the middle of the valley, where they hoped to cut off the Confederate retreat. Fremont, coming from the south west, had already missed his best chance, allowing his army to be deflected north by small Confederate forces in the mountain passes west of Harrisonburg, at the southern end of the valley. General Shields, commanding two divisions detached from McDowell’s corps, moved rather slower than normal. On 1 June Jackson passed through Strasburg heading south, escaping from the main trap.

However, he still had two large Union armies on his heels. His men had marched 350 miles in five weeks, fighting three battles in the same period. At the southern end of the valley, the three armies drew close together. On 8 June, Ewell’s division of 6,000 men held off Fremont’s 12,000 men during a days stiff fighting at Cross Keys. Fremont handled his attack very badly, never bringing his entire force into the battle. After a pointless artillery duel, Fremont pulled back, and failed to play any further part in the campaign.  The next day, Jackson turned to face the second Federal pursuing force at Port Republic.

Shenandoah Valley 1862, Clayton and James Donnell. Looks at the campaign that established 'Stonewall' Jackson's reputation as a battlefield commander, and saw him defeat a series of larger Union armies in a series of battles where he was rarely outnumbered on the battlefield. A good account of the campaign, supported by a series of useful campaign and battle maps that help demonstrate Jackson's dizzying pace of movement. [read full review]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 August 2006), Battle of Cross Keys, 8 June 1862 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_cross_keys.html

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