When the call to arms was sounded, like so many other teenaged boys of his day, Thomas M. Aldrich joined the flood of naive young recruits, barely old enough to shave to embark upon what they all thought to be a fantastic once in a lifetime adventure. By the end of the Civil War, Aldrich and his comrades of several grueling campaigns and numerous horrendous bloody battles, returned home three and four years later as full grown men. They had become well-seasoned combat-veterans, much wiser, and far more appreciative of the lives they so eagerly wanted to leave behind when they left home to tramp the countryside in the service of “Uncle Abe”. From their first day of muster Aldrich and his ‘Battery A Pards’ quickly realized they were a part of history in the making. He and they proudly admired themselves dressed in their ‘Union Blue Wool’, but the artillery red piping on their trousers set them apart as ‘Rhode Island Red Legs’. In the artillery that meant something very special, and they would earn their place in history as one of the best and toughest outfits in the “War to Preserve the Union”, 1861 to 1866.
Forty plus years later, in their declining time of life, the men of Battery A looked back at all they did for their State and their country during the worst crisis the Nation ever faced since the Revolution. Of all the Battery A Veterans still alive in 1903, Aldrich was selected to author their history. He sought the input of every man he called his Battery A Comrade, officers and enlisted men. Snow & Farnham Printers published the story he wrote, “The History of Battery A, First Regiment, Rhode Island Light Artillery”, a year later in 1904. The long awaited history of Battery A was an instant success in Rhode Island.
The WebPages you are about to read concerning the History of Battery A, is a story based on the unit history written by Thomas M. Aldrich, as well as the unit histories of other related units and eye witness narratives. All the written material herein was compared as much as possible to several other written accounts for historical accuracy. This story of Battery A had to be condensed for the purposes of the Internet, but hopefully the graphics added will lend a full picture to the great military service of Battery A and the men who made this story come to life.— G. A. Mierka
"In a few days, together with the Second Rhode Island Regiment, we went into camp on Dexter Training Ground. We were then full-fledged soldiers in Uncle Sam’s service. Tents were pitched and the people of our little State came to enjoy the unusual spectacle of field drills, reveilles, dress parades, firing of artillery at sunrise and sunset, of tattoo and taps. The sight attracted throngs of men, women and children day after day. On Wednesday, June 19th 1861, our Battery in Company with the Second Rhode Island Infantry, broke camp on the Dexter Training Ground [Providence, R.I.], and marched down High Street to Westminster Street, across Market Square to South Main Street, and thence to Fox Point where the steamers lay in waiting to take us to New York. Our Battery went aboard the old ferry-boat Kill Von Kull. The Second Rhode Island Regiment boarded the steamer Empire State, and about sunset, we left our friends and dear ones, some never to meet again".—T. M. Aldrich