The marker for the First Richmond Howitzers is southwest of Gettysburg on West Confederate Avenue. (Tour map: West Confederate Avenue – Part 5)
The battery was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Captain Edward S. McCarthy, who was wounded on July 3. It brought two smoothbore 12-pounder Napoleons and two 3″ Ordnance Rifles to the field.
On July 2 the battery took a position north of the Snyder farm where the marker is today. The rifles opened fire around 4:00 p.m. to support Longstreet’s attack, with the shorter ranged Napoleons in reserve. The rifles fired 200 rounds at the Devils Den. The battery received the heaviest artillery fire they had experienced, losing seven men wounded and thirteen horses killed.
On July 3 the battery was placed well in advance of the skirmish line and drove back a Federal advance with twenty rounds. It then repositioned to the center of the Confederate line on Seminary Ridge for the grand barrage preceding Pickett’s Charge. The barrage opened around 1:30, firing 300 rounds. A wheel was shot off one of the rifles and a caisson was abandoned when its team was killed. Two men were killed and two wounded and ten horses were lost. During the two days of the fighting the rifles fired about 600 rounds and the Napoleons 264.
From the marker:
July 2. At 3.30 P. M. placed in reserve near here. The rifled guns advanced to this position at 4 P. M. and engaged in severe artillery fight until dark. The men of the Napoleon section sometimes relieved those of the rifled section.
July 3. Advanced and formed part of the main artillery line the rifle section near Emmitsburg Road the Napoleons further to the left all hotly engaged sometimes changing positions. Retired from the front after dark.
July 4. In position near here. One Napoleon aided in checking a hostile advance. All withdrew from the field at night.
Ammunition expended about 850 rounds. One rifle was disabled.
Losses Killed 2 Wounded 8 Horses killed or disabled 25
See more on the history of the 1st Company Richmond Howitzers in the Civil War