Union monuments at GettysburgRhode Island

“Brown’s Battery”

The monument to Battery B 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery is south of Gettysburg on Hancock Avenue near the Copse of Trees. (Hancock Avenue Part 3 tour map)

Monument to the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, Battery B at Gettysburg

Monument to the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, Battery B

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

Captain Thomas F. Brown commanded Battery B at the Battle of Gettysburg. 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 experienced two days of hard fighting.

July 2

On the afternoon of July 2nd the battery advanced from its position on Cemetery Ridge to near the Codori farm to try to stop Longstreet’s attack. Wright’s Georgia Brigade partly overran the battery, leaving two pieces near the Emmitsburg Road and another near the stone wall on Cemetery Ridge. Captain Brown was wounded at this time. Union countercharges on July 2nd recovered all three guns, but only one would be restored to service for the next day.

July 3

On July 3rd the four serviceable guns of Brown’s Battery were placed just south of the Copse of Trees under the command of Lieutenant Perrin. The artillery bombardment preceding Pickett’s Charge badly pounded the battery. 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 promptly.

There was an unanticipated effect from Battery B’s departure. 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.

2nd Corps Headquarters Flag Attached to the Artillery Brigade2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac

Monument to the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, Battery B at Gettysburg

From the front of the monument:

Battery B
1st R.I. Lt. Art.ly

From the back of the monument:

Art.ly Brig
2nd Corps
Army Potomac

Location of the monument to Battery B, 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery

The monument to Rhode Island’s Battery B is on the east side of Hancock Avenue across from the Copse of Trees. (39°48’44.3″N 77°14’07.5″W)

Monument to Rhode Island's Battery B at Gettysburg

See more on the history of Brown’s Battery B First Rhode Island Light Artillery in the Civil War