WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced today the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has selected the Frazier International History Museum in Louisville, Ky., as the new home of the Bloedner Monument, the nation’s oldest Civil War memorial.
The Bloedner Monument was removed from Cave Hill National Cemetery in Louisville in December 2008 and taken to a temporary facility where it was professionally conserved by Conservation Solutions Inc. to arrest further damage.
“The removal of an important monument from a national cemetery is rare and was not undertaken without great deliberation,” said Secretary Shinseki. “However, the overwhelming significance of the Bloedner Monument and its failing condition warranted this unusual step.”
The monument was carved in January 1862 by Pvt. August Bloedner to commemorate his fellow soldiers of the 32nd Indiana Infantry, all of them German immigrants who fell in the Battle of Rowlett’s Station near Munfordville, Ky. The monument’s original location was on the battlefield, marking the graves of 13 soldiers who perished there. When most of these remains were removed to Cave Hill National Cemetery in 1867, the Bloedner Monument was moved there as well.
VA historians, in collaboration with the Kentucky Heritage Council and Heritage Preservation Inc., selected the Frazier International Museum as the new home from three interested facilities based on Civil War exhibit plans, controlled environment and security, financial stability, annual visitation and proximity to Cave Hill National Cemetery.
The monument was fabricated from St. Genevieve limestone, with a base of Bedford limestone added in 1867. It measures approximately 5 feet long, 1 foot deep and 3 ½ feet high. The monument is carved on one side with a relief of an eagle and an inscription in German in a rustic script. The text was approximately 300 words and 2,500 characters long at the time it was carved. Because of the poor quality of the limestone and effects of the environment, the monument has lost a significant amount of material. Only about 50 percent of the original carving and inscription remains.
The monument was temporarily relocated to a University of Louisville facility for treatment while VA conducted a thorough evaluation of potential sites. The evaluation process included written proposals and site visits. VA posted information on the Internet, mailed information to Veterans and Civil War heritage groups and held a public information meeting to solicit suggestions.
A new monument, with an interpretive sign explaining the significance of the original Bloedner Monument and indicating its location, will be placed at Cave Hill National Cemetery in 2010.