Battle of Cross Keys


Official Report of Lt. Col. J. Hamm


No. 46

Report of Lieut. Col. John Hamm, Seventy Fourth Pennsylvania Infantry at the Battle of Cross Keys [Vol 12a - Official Reports - Chapter XXIV- pages 673-74]


On Sunday, at 2:30 o'clock p.m., June 8, 1862, the Seventy-fourth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers was formed in line of battle by General H. Bohlen, and remained such for ten minutes, when General L. Blenker in person gave Lt. Col. J. Hamm the order to detail the and left companies (Companies A and G) as skirmishers, under command of Maj. F. Blessing, the former company commanded by Capt A. von Hartung, the latter by Capt. C. Zinn, Lt Col J. Hamm at the same time asking General L. Blenker, with or without reserve, as customary in skirmishing, upon which General Blenker ordered the companies to proceed without reserve, remarking at the same time that these skirmishers of the Seventy-fourth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered only to protect the wounded of the Eighth Regiment New York Volunteers; also saying to be very careful and not to fire, as the Eighth Regiment New York Volunteers was ahead of the Seventy-fourth Regiment.  This order was rehearsed several times to the adjutant of the regiment, Lt. F. Klenker, in hearing of the different companies.  Maj. F. Blessing received the same order from Lieutenant Brandenstein, by order of General L. Blenker, he (Lieutenant Brandenstein) remaining till the skirmishers ceased firing after which he (Brandenstein) was shot from his horse, the skirmishers having fired previously by order of Maj. F. Blessing, he (Maj. F. Blessing) recognizing the forces before him were not the Eighth Regiment New York Volunteers, but Second Regiment rebels, in line of battle.  The skirmishers, after having gone forward, found themselves about 20 paces from the enemy, and had such volleys of balls discharged  at them that Maj. F. Blessing found it necessary to order the skirmishers to fall back toward the left, and ordered Captain Heustmann to send the artillery forward to play upon the enemy.


The regiment being close by, the skirmishers ahead of us received torrents of musket-balls into them, whereupon Lieut. Col. J. Hamm ordered the regiment to fall back to the next fence, 20 paces to the rear, to take a good position, the regiment having returned the fire of the enemy very briskly.  General H. Bohlen then ordered the regiment through  Captain Chandler, to fall back toward the left, the enemy's forces being discovered to be entirely too strong for us; also allowing the artillery to have full range at the enemy.  Maj. F. Blessing's horse was shot from under him during the engagement.  The falling back was conducted in the best possible order, without confusion.  Roll call was held upon arriving at camp, but 6 were missing, not accounted for at the time.


Very respectfully,  J. Hamm Lieut. Col., Comdg. Seventy-fourth Regt. Pennsylvania Vols.