Conservation of the Augustus Bloedner Monument, Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville Kentucky
Presented by: Patty Miller, Senior Conservator, Conservation Solutions, Inc.
The August Bloedner Monument, also known as the 32nd Indiana Monument, honors the fallen soldiers of the 32nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as the “First German,” at the Battle of Rowlett’s Station, near Munfordville, Kentucky. On December 17, 1861, the regiment successfully defended a crucial bridge: 500 soldiers fought back 3,000 Rebels. Thirteen members of the 32nd were killed and 30 were wounded.
Christian Friedrich August Bloedner served as a private at the battle. Wishing to honor his fallen comrades, he carved a memorial from a slab of locally quarried limestone, completing it in January 1862. The memorial was placed over the interment at the battlefield, but in an effort to consolidate the bodies of dead Union soldiers after the end of the Civil War, the remains along with the memorial stone were moved to Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky in June of 1867. Upon placement at Cave Hill, the memorial stone was mounted on to a limestone base and positioned at the site where it has been recognized at the oldest Civil War Monument.
Time and the elements have not been favorable to the preservation of the Bloedner Monument. The Ste. Genevieve Limestone of the carved memorial tablet began to show signs of significant deterioration in the latter half of the twentieth century. A 1955 photograph of the tablet recorded the carving and inscription in good condition; by 2008 more that 50% of the inscription had been lost due to surface exfoliation.
At the request of the Heritage Preservation on behalf of the Department of Veteran Affairs, Conservation Solutions, Inc. (CSI) performed an inspection of the monument to determine the feasibility of moving the monument, and recommend treatments to address the observed conditions. In late 2008 CSI relocated the monument to an indoor facility where it underwent conservation treatment in early 2009. This presentation will discuss the goals of the conservation treatment in the context of the client’s decision to permanently relocate the monument to an indoor display location.