The monument to the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, Battery B is south of Gettysburg on Hancock Avenue near the Copse of Trees. (39.812315 N, 77.235411 W; Google map; Tour map: Hancock Avenue Part 3)
About the monument to Battery B
The monument is of Westerly Granite and stands eight and one half feet high. The top of the monument is a cube with the trefoil symbol of the Second Corps on all four sides, topped by a carved granite 12-pounder ball. The monument was dedicated on October 12, 1886 by the State of Rhode Island.
Battery B at the Battle of Gettysburg
Battery B was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Captain Thomas F. Brown. He was wounded on July 2, and Lieutenant William S. Perrin took command. The battery brought 103 men to the field serving six 12 pounder Napoleons and lost 7 killed, 19 wounded and 2 missing.
The battery saw two days of hard fighting. On the afternoon of July 2nd it was advanced from its position on Cemetery Ridge to near the Codori farm to try to stop Longstreet’s attack. The battery was partly overrun by Wright’s Georgia Brigade, leaving two pieces near the Emmitsburg Road and another near the stone wall on Cemetery Ridge. Captain Brown was wounded at this time. All three guns were recovered in Union countercharges on July 2nd, but only one would be restored to service for the next day.
On July 3rd the four servicable guns of Brown’s Battery were placed just south of the Copse of Trees under the command of Lieutenant Perrin. The battery was pounded by the artilery bombardment preceding Pickett’s Charge. One gun was struck on the muzzle by a Confederate shell, killing two gunners. Two men lept to load the piece, but the ball jammed in the distorted muzzle. They were about to hammer it in with an axe when another Confederate shell shattered one of the gun’s wheels and the cannon collapsed. The barrel cooled around the ball, permanently clamping it in place. It can be seen on display in the Rhode Island Statehouse.
When Union Artillery Chief Howard Hunt rode up he could see that Battery B was a wreck. Only three guns were servicable, all the officers were killed or wounded, and long-range ammunition was almost expended. Hunt ordered the battery to the rear, an order it obeyed prompty.
Its departure from the ridge had an unanticipated effect. Across the field in the Confederate lines Longstreet’s Artillery Chief, E. Porter Alexander, saw the battery leaving the line. Union gunfire was also slackening following orders from Hunt and Meade. Alexander reported that the Union artillery on the ridge was pulling back. If Pickett were to charge, now was the time. And so it was that Battery B helped launch Pickett’s Charge.
|Attached to the Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac|
From the front of the monument:
1st R.I. Lt. Art.ly
From the back: