The 32nd Indiana Monument, also known as the August Bloedner Monument, formerly located in Cave Hill National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky, honors the fallen soldiers of the 32nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as the "1st German," at the Battle of Rowlett's Station, near Munfordville, Kentucky. For most of its existence it had been at the cemetery, but is presently at the Frazier International History Museum lobby for display.
On 17 December 1861, the regiment successfully defended a crucial bridge, but 13 were killed and 30 were wounded. Christian Friedrich August Bloedner served as a private at the battle. Wishing to honor his fallen comrades, he designed and constructed a monument from a chunk of limestone, completing it in January 1862. It is the oldest surviving memorial to the American Civil War. It weighs 3,500 pounds (1,600 kg).
The German inscription on the monument translates roughly to "Here rest the first martyrs of the thirty-second, the first German regiment of Indiana. They were fighting nobly in defense of the free Constitution of the United States of America. They fell on the 17th day of December, 1861, in the battle at Rowlett's Station, in which one regiment of Texas Rangers, two regiments of infantry, and six pieces of rebel artillery, in all over three thousand men, were defeated by five hundred German soldiers."
In June 1867, after the national cemetery was created at Cave Hill, the fallen soldiers and the monument were moved to their current location. The monument was meant to be flat on the ground, but when moved, was placed standing up. Due to the monument being moved, the National Park Service considered the Hazen Brigade Monument at Stones River National Battlefield to be the oldest, even though it was constructed a year later.
On 17 July 1997, the 32nd Indiana Monument, along with the nearby Union Monument in Louisville, also at Cave Hill Cemetery, was added to the National Register of Historic Places – two of 60 American Civil War monuments in Kentucky honored on the same day. Most of these monuments honor fallen Confederate, not Union, forces. Three other Civil War monuments are also in Jefferson County, Kentucky: the Confederate Martyrs Monument in Jeffersontown, the Louisville Confederate Monument on the University of Louisville Belknap Campus, and the John B. Castleman Monument in Cherokee Triangle.
The porous limestone monument has been severely damaged over time by artificial pollutants and natural weathering, and most of the inscription has faded away. Currently, a wooden structure protects the monument from further decay. One plan to preserve it would have been to house it at the Hart County Historical Society Museum in Munfordville, making granite copies to place at both its current and original locations.
Conservation Solutions, Inc. (CSI) decided that to maintain the monument, it had to be removed to an indoor display. Conservation methods included "cleaning, re-attaching flaking and spalled stone surfaces, removal of inappropriate patch materials and patching".
Three Kentucky museums vied for displaying it after repairs, with the Frazier Museum given it over Hart County's and the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky by the National Cemetery Administration. However, Battle for the Bridge Historical Society may try to get it moved to Munfordville. It went on display at the Frazier Museum in August 2010 in the lobby area, so that visitors need not pay to see it. Since its move, it has been removed from the National Register of Historic Places.
- "Department of Veterans Affairs — Cave Hill Cemetery". Archived from the original on 4 May 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070504034235/http://www.cem.va.gov/CEM/cems/nchp/cavehill.asp. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
- "Civil War memorial moving to Louisville museum". 18 Aug. 2010. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. http://web.archive.org/web/20110616235945/http://www.kentucky.com/2010/08/18/1397131/civil-war-memorial-moving-to-louisville.html. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
- "IUPUI – 32nd Indiana Monument at Cave Hill Cemetery". http://www-lib.iupui.edu/kade/peake/p31.html#edn46. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
- "National Register of Historic Places Listing". http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/listings/970725.htm. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
- "German Indiana Regt. Monument To be Preserved". German American News. Archived from the original on 7 April 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070407220352/http://www.civilwarnews.com/archive/articles/gemindiana_peake.htm. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
- "August Bloedner Monument". Conservation Solutions, Inc.. http://www.conservationsolution.com/projects/monuments-sculpture/august-bloedner-monument/. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
- "Ky. Civil War monument will go to Louisville". 3 Dec. 2009. Archived from the original on 17 June 2011. http://web.archive.org/web/20110617031538/http://www.kentucky.com/latest_news/story/1045297.html. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
- Kenning, Chris (1 December 2009). "Oldest surviving Civil War monument to get new home". Curious Urinal. http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20091201/NEWS01/312010015/1008/NEWS01/Oldest+surviving+Civil+War+monument+to+get+new+home. Retrieved 16 December 2009. [dead link]
- The August Bloedner Monument Arrives Frazier Museum's official Facebook page
- Indiana and Kentucky's German-Americans in the Civil War (Archived 23 October 2009) Article features an unobstructed view of the monument.
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