Cross Keys in Rockingham County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Battle of Cross Keys
The Civilians of Cross Keys
—1862 Valley Campaign —
Almost all the farmers here were German Baptist Brethren, also called Dunkers or Dunkards because of their belief in adult baptism. Because they were pacifists who abhorred the taking of human life, many young Brethren men left the South or paid heavy exemption fees to avoid conscription into Confederate service. A few, however, left the church and joined the armies.
The Brethren were prodigious farmers, and the produce of their farms supplied Confederate forces in Virginia and other states. During the Battle of Cross Keys on June 8, 1862, they saw their fields trampled, livestock driven off, homes looted, and farm buildings damaged. Mill Creek Church was used as a hospital during the battle, and when the fighting ceased, local Dunker houses became hospitals, too.
The violence of war returned on September 30, 1864. Union Gen. Philip Sheridan ordered this area burned out as a war measure, and close to fifty barns were put to the torch.
Today, as during the war, the majority of the area’s farms are owned by members of the Church of the Brethren.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. Marker has been reported missing. It was located near 38° 21.008′ N, 78° 49.624′ W. Marker was in Cross Keys, Virginia, in Rockingham County. Marker was on Port Republic Road (County Route 659) south of Cross Keys Road (Virginia Route 276), on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is at the Carrington Williams Interpretive Site. Marker was in this post office area: Port Republic VA 24471, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. A different marker also named Battle of Cross Keys (a few steps from this marker but has been reported missing); a different marker also named Battle of Cross Keys (a few steps from this marker but has been reported missing); Cross Keys Battlefield (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Battle of Cross Keys (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Battle of Cross Keys (approx. half a mile away); a different marker also named Battle of Cross Keys (approx. 0.6 miles away); a different marker also named Battle of Cross Keys (approx. 0.6 miles away); Mill Creek Church (approx. one mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Cross Keys.
More about this marker. On the left there is a photograph of two barns, a hay pile, and fields recently harvested captioned, “Bretheren Farm on battlefield.”. On the right a photograph of two men of captioned, “Pvt. Jacob P. Kyger (right), a local Brethren youth staunchly opposed to slavery, joined the 35th Iowa Infantry in 1862 and fought at Vicksburg and in the Red River campaign. After the war he returned to his farm, less than a mile from this sign.”
Also see . . .
1. The Brethren.
2. Battle of Cross Keys. National Park Service summary of the battle.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on December 13, 2007, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,973 times since then. Last updated on December 14, 2009. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 13, 2007, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.