Inscription reads: "On June 8, 1862, during the Battle of Cross Keys, Gen. Isaac R. Trimble's Confederate brigade of a little more than 1,500 men occupied this line, a masked position behind a split-rail fence in what was then a wood line to your right and left. Shortly after noon, the 548-man-strong 8th New York Infantry of Gen. Julius Stahel's brigade marched toward Trimble, but the regiment's officers failed to put a skirmish line out front to locate the Southern position. Skirmishers of the 21st North Carolina Infantry scampered back to Trimble's line to give him the news. The New Yorkers advanced blindly through a clover field in a two-line formation and over the rise just in front of you. An Alabama soldier later recalled, "Poor fellows, they did not know what was in store for them.""
As the Federals came within about 50 yards of here, the Confederates rose up and unleashed volley after volley into their ranks. The 8th New York suffered more than 250 casualties in the short span of about 15 minutes. One Confederate soldier wrote home that as he looked over the ground in front of him he saw dead and wounded Federals "lying in the field as thick as black birds."