Cross Keys, a place in Rockingham co., Virginia, near the forks of the Shenandoah, where a battle was fought, June 8, 1862, between the confederates under Ewell and a Union force under Fremont. Early in the spring of 1862 the bulk of the confederate forces withdrew from northern Virginia to the peninsula; but Jackson and Ewell, with about 12,000, were left behind on the Rappahannock and the Shenandoah. This force, subsequently increased to 15,000 or more, was united under Jackson in the valley of the Shenandoah. Jackson, having been worsted at Kernstown, near Winchester, March 23, retreated up the Shenandoah, but in the latter part of May suddenly swept down the valley, cut off Kenly's detachment at Front Royal, and drove Banks before him to the banks of the Potomac. Threatened by a combined movement of the troops under Fremont, McDowell, and Shields, intended to intercept him, he again retreated up the valley, and was followed by Fremont and Shields, on opposite sides of the river. They expected to unite at Port Republic, near the forks.
Ewell was left behind at Cross Keys to hold Fremont in check, while Jackson pushed forward to Port Republic to meet Shields. Fremont, who had about 18,000, opened an artillery fire upon Ewell, whose force was about 8,000. Ewell held his ground all day, and at night moved on to rejoin Jackson. The two divisions crossed the Shenandoah at Port Republic the next morning, and encountered the advance of Shields's corps, 3,000 strong, which was soon driven back. Fremont had followed Ewell as far as the river, but made no attempt to cross. Jackson's whole command then moved leisurely up the south fork of the Shenandoah, without being further pursued. The action at Cross Keys closed Jackson's brilliant campaign on the Potomac and Shenandoah. With a force never exceeding 20,000, he had for months foiled or held in check the corps commanded by McDowell, Fremont, Banks, and Shields, numbering in all nearly 70,000. The confederate loss at Cross Keys and Port Republic was 133 killed and 929 wounded; ,the Union loss was about the same.