Cemetery notes and/or description: HISTORICAL INFORMATION
Cave Hill National Cemetery is located in the northwest corner of Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Ky. The original .65 acre was donated by the Cave Hill Cemetery Company as a burial site for soldiers who died in the service of their country. Additional acreage was added in 1863, 1864, 1867 and 1897 through donation and purchase.
While the site was officially established as a national cemetery in 1863 within the fashionable Cave Hill Cemetery, the first interment occurred in November 1861. The initial burials were soldiers who died at camps and hospitals in the Louisville area. In spring 1867, 732 remains gathered from various points along the Louisville and Nashville Railroad were also interred at Cave Hill, primarily in section D.
Twelve soldiers of the 32nd Indiana Regiment, commanded by Brig. Gen. August Willich are interred in graves 1-12, Section C. The troops perished in a battle at Rowlett Station between the 500 men under Willich¬'s command and 3,000 Confederates. They were originally buried near the battle site and the graves marked by a stone tablet bearing a carved American eagle and the following inscription in German:
Here rest the first heroes of the 32nd Indiana German Regiment, who laid down their lives for the preservation of the free Constitution of the republic of the United States of North America. They were killed December 17, 1861, in a fight with the rebels at Rowlett Station, Kentucky, in which one regiment of Texas rangers, two regiments of infantry, and a battery of six cannon, (over 3,000 strong) were defeated by 500 German soldiers.
The state of Kentucky recognized the sacrifice of these men by purchasing the ground in which they were buried. In 1867, with the approval of Indiana¬'s governor, the remains of the soldiers and the monument were moved to Cave Hill Cemetery. The monument was subsequently mounted on a solid stone pedestal contributed by Louisville¬'s German citizens.
In 1867, the United States purchased an additional .22 acres around the corner from the cemetery as the site for a keeper¬'s lodge built in the familiar architectural style originated by Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs. Although the U.S. Army sold the lodge in 1940, it remains in existence on Baxter Avenue.
The larger, private Cave Hill Cemetery has been the pre-eminent burial ground in Louisville since it was dedicated in 1848, and it remains a premiere example of Rural style cemetery design in the United States. The site¬'s natural rock outcroppings and hilly topography have been complemented with ponds, statuary and architecturally elegant tombs. More than 500 kinds of trees and garden plantings are maintained in this naturalistic oasis.
Cave Hill National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. The complete Cave Hill Cemetery property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places previously, and it remains an active burial site.
Monuments and Memorials
The 32nd Indiana Monument is the oldest Civil War monument in America; it was created in early 1862 and was moved to the cemetery in 1867. The limestone block was carved by August Bloedner, who served with the 32nd Indiana, or ¬"First German,¬" Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which was composed entirely of recent German immigrants. The monument memorializes men of the unit who died in an engagement at Rowlett¬'s Station on Dec. 17, 1861. It was the first Civil War skirmish in Kentucky and these were the first men of the state to perish in the conflict.
The Unknown Soldiers Monument, a rustic boulder marked with a plaque, was erected in 1914.