The monument to Battery A, First Rhode Island Light Artillery is south of Gettysburg on Hancock Avenue near The Angle. (39.813551 N, 77.235456 W; Google map; Monument map: Hancock Avenue at The Angle)
About the monument to Arnold’s Battery
The granite monument stands about nine feet tall, tapering to the trefoil symbol of the Second Corps on the cap. The face has a polished design of a cannon barrel over crossed rammers, wheel and laurel leaves of victory, over the top of which is an anchor and the word “Hope,” symbols of Rhode Island. The monument was dedicated on October 12,1886 by the State of Rhode Island.
Arnold’s Rhode Island Battery A at Gettysburg
The battery was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Captain William A. Arnold, a bookkeeper from Providence. It brought 139 men to the field serving six 3″ Ordnance Rifles.
On July 2nd the battery helped defend the Second Corps position on Cemetery Ridge, dangerously thinned after Caldwell’s Division had been sent to suport Sickles’ Third Corps. Battery A fired into the flanks of Wright’s Georgians as they tried to punch through south of the Copse of Trees.
But it was on July 3rd that Battery A had its most severe test. The left flank of Longstreet’s Attack – the six brigades under Pettigrew and Trimble – would aim almost exactly for Battery A’s position just north of the Angle.
Before the Confederate infantry stepped off the battery was a part of one of the greatest artillery duels of the Civil War. Although Union Artillery Chief Henry Hunt had ordered his batteries to stand silent during the barrage to conserve ammunition for the infantry assault, Second Corps commander Winfield Hancock overruled batteries under his immediate control, ordering them to return fire to give moral support to the infantry.
The result of the duel for battery A was one gun in the battery Left Section destroyed and three men killed by shell explosions. The battery was also out of long range ammunition, leaving it with just short range canister. General Hunt ordered the battery to withdraw, and four of the servicable guns were pulled back. The fifth, probably the other Left Section gun, was wheeled up to the stone wall to fire canister into the aproaching Rebels.
That gun fired the rest of the battery’s canister, the last double-shotted into Confederates who had almost reached the wall. One story is that this was into the 26th North Carolina, whose monument stands a short distance beyond the wall from the Battery A monument. But a great deal of evidence points to the North Carolina monument being misplaced too far to the south; it was probably the 16th North Carolina who received Battery A’s final shot.
From the front of the monument:
July 2, & 3, 1863
1st R.I. L.A.
See more on Rhode Island’s Battery A in the Civil War