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Louisville in Jefferson County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
 

The Oldest Existing Civil War Monument

Cave Hill National Cemetery

 
 
The Oldest Existing Civil War Monument image. Click for full size.
By TeamOHE, May 17, 2018
1. The Oldest Existing Civil War Monument
Inscription.  The Battle of Rowlett's Station
On December 17, 1861, the 32nd Indiana Infantry (nicknamed the "1st German” regiment as it consisted entirely of German immigrants) engaged Confederate forces near Munfordville, Kentucky, in the Battle of Rowlett's Station (also known as the Battle of Green River). While both sides withdrew from the field, the Union regiment successfully defended a vital bridge over the Green River. Thirteen men in the regiment were killed; 11 were buried on a knoll near the bridge.

After the battle, the regiment camped near Munfordville for a little less than two months. During this period, Private August Bloedner carved an intricate monument from a local outcrop of limestone to mark the graves of the fallen.

The 32nd Indiana Infantry Monument, also known as the Bloedner Monument, was placed on the soldiers' graves in January 1862. On the monument, Bloedner sculpted an intricate frieze of an eagle with wings outstretched, clutching in its talons two cannons. The eagle is flanked by two American flags, an olive sprig and an oak branch. Below, in German, the inscription reads:

Here
32nd Indiana Infantry Civil War Monument image. Click for full size.
By Bradley Owen, October 12, 2019
2. 32nd Indiana Infantry Civil War Monument
lie men of the 32nd First German Indiana Regiment sacrificed for the free Institutions of the Republic of the United States of North America.

They fell on 17 Dec. 1861, in an Encounter at Rowlett Station, in which 1 Regiment of Texas Rangers, 2 Regiments of Infantry, and 6 Rebel Cannons, in all over 3000 Men, were defeated by 500 German Soldiers.


Bloedner also inscribed the names of the 13 soldiers who fell, with birth dates and places. The 32nd Indiana Infantry Monument is believed to be the oldest Civil War monument still in existence.

Relocation to Cave Hill National Cemetery
In 1861, the Union buried soldiers who died at camps and hospitals in the Louisville area in a soldiers' lot within Cave Hill Cemetery. In 1863, this lot was established as Cave Hill National Cemetery.

In 1867, the remains of the 11 soldiers buried on the battlefield and the 32nd Indiana Infantry Monument were moved to Cave Hill National Cemetery. At this time, the monument was installed on a Bedford limestone base with this inscription:

In memory of the First Victims of the 32. Reg. Indiana Vol.
Who fell at the Battle of Rowletts Station, Dec. 17, 1861


August Bloedner
Christian Friedrich August Bloedner was born March 1, 1827, in Altenberg, Germany. He studied sculpture and painting before immigrating
The Oldest Existing Civil War Monument image. Click for full size.
By Bradley Owen, October 12, 2019
3. The Oldest Existing Civil War Monument
Original monument, displayed at the Frazier Museum, downtown Louisville, KY.
to the United States in 1849, settling in Cincinnati, Ohio. Bloedner enlisted in the Union Army as a private in August 1861, and was promoted to sergeant in January 1863. He was wounded on September 20 of that year in the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia. In October 1863, he was promoted to first sergeant, and mustered out in September 1864, after completing his three-year enlistment. He returned to Cincinnati and worked as a stone cutter before dying of heart disease on November 17, 1872, at age 46.

(sidebar)
Conservation Efforts
The 32nd Indiana Infantry Monument was carved from St. Genevieve limestone, a soft and porous material. As a result of environmental factors, by 2000 more than half of the original inscription was lost, and the frieze was eroded. In contrast, the base of Bedford limestone remains in good condition.

In 2002, the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration (NCA), attempted to protect and conserve the monument in its location at Cave Hill National Cemetery. However, by 2008, it was apparent that despite these efforts, the monument continued to deteriorate. To prevent further loss, and to properly conserve it, in December 2008 NCA moved the monument from the cemetery to a temporary climate-controlled facility.

As of 2010, the 32nd Indiana Infantry Monument is on display
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in the lobby of the Frazier History Museum, located at 829 West Main Street, Louisville. Access to the monument is free.

New Monument
In December 2011, a new monument was installed in Cave Hill National Cemetery. The new monument features the original inscription in German on the front and an English translation on the back.

(captions)
“Battle of Rowlett’s Station,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, January 18, 1862.
32nd Indiana Infantry Monument, 1955. The German inscription is largely intact but areas are flaking off. Photograph ©Louisville Courier-Journal.
32nd Indiana Infantry Monument, 2011.
 
Erected by National Cemetery Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker monument is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial SitesWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the National Cemeteries series list.
 
Location. 38° 14.9′ N, 85° 43.333′ W. Marker is in Louisville, Kentucky, in Jefferson County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Baxter Avenue (U.S. 31E/150) and Cherokee Road, on the right when traveling north. Located in Cave Hill Cemetery. Touch for map
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. Marker is at or near this postal address: 701 Baxter Ave, Louisville KY 40204, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Unknown Union Soldiers Memorial (here, next to this marker); The 32nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment Civil War Monument (a few steps from this marker); Croghans of Locust Grove / Major William Croghan (within shouting distance of this marker); Cave Hill National Cemetery (approx. 0.2 miles away); Augustus E. Willson (1846-1931) (approx. 0.2 miles away); Nathaniel Wolfe (approx. 0.2 miles away); A National Cemetery System (approx. 0.2 miles away); This monument to the memory of James Guthrie (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Louisville.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 22, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 29, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 79 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on November 29, 2020, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio.   2, 3. submitted on January 17, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
 
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Feb. 25, 2021