Union monuments at GettysburgRhode Island

“Arnold’s Battery”

The monument to Battery A 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery (‘Arnold’s Battery’) is south of Gettysburg on Hancock Avenue near The Angle. (Hancock Avenue at The Angle tour map)

Monument to Rhode Island's Battery A at Gettysburg

Monument to Battery A, Rhode Island Light Artillery

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.

2nd Corps Headquarters Flag Attached to the Artillery Brigade2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac
View of the monument to Battery A from the 26th North Carolina monument

View of the monument to Battery A from the 26th North Carolina monument

Arnold’s Battery A at Gettysburg

Captain William A. Arnold, a bookkeeper from Providence, commanded the battery at the Battle of Gettysburg. It brought 139 men to the field serving six 3″ Ordnance Rifles.

July 2

The battery helped defend the Second Corps position on Cemetery Ridge, dangerously thinned after Caldwell’s Division had been sent to support 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.

July 3

Battery A’s most severe test was on July 3rd. 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.  Union Artillery Chief Henry Hunt ordered his batteries to stand silent during the barrage to conserve ammunition for the infantry assault. But Second Corps commander Winfield Hancock overruled the batteries under his immediate control, ordering them to return fire to give moral support to the infantry.

The duel destroyed one gun in the battery’s Left Section and killed three men 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 serviceable guns were pulled back. The fifth, probably the other Left Section gun, was wheeled up to the stone wall to fire canister into the approaching Rebels.

That gun fired off 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:

Arnold’s Battery
July 2, & 3, 1863

From the left side of the monument:

Battery A
1st R.I. L.A.
Artillery Brigade
2nd Corps

From the right side of the monument:

4 Killed
24 Wounded

Location of Battery A, Rhode Island Light Artillery at Gettysburg

The monument to Battery A of the First Rhode Island Artilery is on the west side of Hancock Avenue just north of The Angle. (39°48’48.8″N 77°14’07.6″W)

See more on the history of Battery A 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery in the Civil War