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August Bloedner was born in 1827 at Altenburg in the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg (currently the state of Thuringia), Germany. From 1841-45, he attended the local Arts and Crafts School. In 1845, he left Altenburg for Dresden, entering the highly respected Royal Academy of Fine Arts, but soon after he withdrew before completing his studies. Bloedner came to the United States in 1849, and may have lived in New York City for a time, before settling in Cincinnati. He married Henrietta Behnke in 1856. After the outbreak of the Civil War, Bloedner enlisted in the Union Army on August 24, 1861, in Indianapolis for three years as a private, and was assigned to the 32nd Indiana Infantry Regiment.
After the Battle of Rowlett’s Station, Bloedner and the 32nd Indiana Infantry bivouacked near Munfordville for approximately two months. During this time, Bloedner carved the 32nd Indiana Monument, and it was installed on the battlefield, marking the remains of those who fell, in late January 1862. A fence was installed around the burial site and the monument.
The Bloedner Monument is carved from St. Genevieve limestone, probably a local outcrop. It is approximately 60” wide by 49” high by 16” deep. In relief, there is a carved image of an eagle with its wings outstretched, clutching in its talons two cannons, which are resting on cannonballs. The eagle is flanked by two American flags, along with an olive sprig and an oak branch. Below the relief panel, the monument is inscribed in a fraktur-like script in German with a brief description of the battle, and the names, birth dates, and birthplaces of those who fell. The translated inscription reads:
Here 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.
Lieut. Max Sachs, born 6 Oct. 1826 in Fraustadt, Prussia
Rich Wehe, born 28 March 1832 in Leipzig
Fried. Schumacher, born 14 Jan. 1834 in Harvenfeld, Hannover
Henry Lohse, born 28 March 1835 in (unreadable)
Charles Knab, born 6 Feb. 1843 in Münchberg, Bavaria
John Fellermann, born 12 Jan. 1842 in Menzen, Hannover
Wm. Staabs, born 16 May 1820 in Coblenz, Prussia
Gari Kieffer, born 18 Feb. 1817 in Henriville, France
Christoph Reuter, born 1 Jan. 1818 in Markstedt, Bavaria
Ernst Schiemann, born 26 Feb. 1826 in Steindorfel, Saxony
Theodore Schmidt, born 8 Feb. 1839 in Hemkirchen, Hessen-Kassel
Daniel Schmidt, born 12 March 1834, in Grabowa, Prussia
George Burkhardt, born 14 Jan. 1844 in Keiselbach, Saxony
After the monument was moved to Cave Hill National Cemetery, a German inscription was carved above the frieze, reading: “Brought here from Fort Willich, Munfordville, KY and reinterred on 6 June 1867.”
Of the 13 names inscribed on the monument, the remains of 11 were buried on locally and marked by the Bloedner Monument. The remains of the other two soldiers were sent to private cemeteries in Cincinnati for burial. Pvt. Max Sachs was buried in Adath Israel Cemetery (now part of Price Hill Cemetery) and Pvt. Theodore Schmidt was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.
The Bloedner Monument likely was originally intended to serve as a grave marker. Little is known about those soldiers who fell in the battle. 11 were privates, two were officers. According to the inscription on the monument, all were born in Germany, save for Carl Keiffer who was born in the Lorraine region of France on the German border. Their ages ranged between 18 to 43, which was typical for the Army; it is estimated that most Union soldiers were between the ages of 18 and 39.
After the Civil War, the Office of the Quartermaster General (OQMG) of the U.S. Army was responsible for administering a nationwide reburial program to identify the burial locations of fallen Union Soldiers, and if necessary to reinter their remains into the new national cemeteries. In 1867, the OQMG moved the remains of the 11 soldiers buried on the Rowlett’s Station battlefield and the Bloedner Monument to Cave Hill National Cemetery in Louisville. Cave Hill National Cemetery is imbedded in a corner of the private Cave Hill Cemetery, a premier Rural-style burial ground established in 1848. The first interments in Cave Hill National Cemetery occurred in November 1861.
When the monument was moved to Cave Hill National Cemetery, it was installed on a base of Bedford limestone, with an English inscription that reads: “In memory of the first victims of the 32nd Reg. Indiana Vol. who fell at the Battle of Rowlett’s Station, December 17, 1861.”
Bloedner was with the 32nd Indiana Infantry at the Battle of Rowlett’s Station, and stayed with the regiment throughout 1862. He was promoted to sergeant in January 1863, and wounded on September 20 of that year in the Battle of Chickamauga. In October 1863, he was promoted to first sergeant, and he mustered out on September 7, 1864, after completing a three-year enlistment. He returned to Cincinnati and worked as a stone cutter, before he died of heart disease on November 17, 1872, at age 46.