The 32nd Indiana at the Battle of Rowletts Station
On December 17, 1861, the "1st German" 32nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel August Willich, fought Confederate cavalry, infantry and artillery units south of Munfordville, Kentucky, near Rowletts Station. While both forces retreated from the battlefield, the Union regiment successfully defended a vital bridge over the Green River. Thirteen men of the regiment died and 30 were wounded in the engagement.
The Union dead were buried on a knoll west of Munfordville near the bridge.
To commemorate the loss, Private August Bloedner, Co. I, 32nd Indiana, acquired a block of local limestone and sculpted an intricate monument that was placed near the graves in January 1862. Carved in relief near the top is an eagle with wings spread full, clutching a brace of cannon. Two stacks of cannonballs are paired below the artillery with unfurled American flags flanking each side. An olive spring and an oak branch border the recess at each end. Below this frieze the stone forms a tablet on which Bloedner engraved in German an account of the battle and the names of the dead with their birth dates.
In June of 1867, the remains of the dead and the monument were moved to the Federal section of Cave Hill Cemetery in Lousiville.
The monument, one of the nation's oldest existing Civil War memorials, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Now nearly illegible, the translated inscription rads:
"Here rest the first martyrs of the 32nd, 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 of Rowletts 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 500 German soldiers."
August Bloedner, Sculptor of the Monument
Christian Friedrich August Bloedner was born on March 1, 1827, in Altenburg, Germany. He studied sculpture and painting at the Art and Craft School in Altenburg and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden before emigrating to America in 1849. He settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked as a stonecutter and married Henrietta Behnke on March 3, 1856.
Bloedner enlisted in the Union army on August 21, 1861, and was assigned to Co. I, 32nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He rose from the rank of private to first sergeant of Co. F, 32nd Indiana Infantry Regiment. Following the war he returned to Cincinnati where he died of a heart attack on November 14, 1872, and was buried in Vine Street Hill Cemetery.
The Monument Today
The monument is located in Cave Hill National Cemetery, a federal tract that is managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, within the larger private cemetery. The condition of the monument has deteriorated over the years due to the porous quality of the limestone, natural weathering and manmade pollutants. While the original detail of the carving and text cannot be restored, it is hoped that the loss of additional stone may be slowed through conservation treatment.