Civil War's First Monument to Fallen Soldiers Rescued and Restored (Kentucky)

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On a cold December day in 1861, a few hundred German immigrants in blue Union uniforms squared off against 3,000 Confederates on foot and horseback near Munfordville, Ky.

When the withering artillery and musket fire cleared, the rebels fled, and Kentucky's first Civil War battle ended in victory for the 32nd Indiana regiment known as the "First German."

But before the regiment marched on, infantryman August Bloedner carved a limestone monument to the 13 Union dead, leaving behind the Civil War's first monument to fallen soldiers.

Now, nearly 150 years later, that monument is set to be placed in a museum, likely in Louisville, after being rescued and restored following decades of neglect and environmental wear that nearly destroyed it at Cave Hill Cemetery, where it has rested since 1867.

The Battle of Rowlett's Station, and its important monument, is just one of the stories Kentucky officials will highlight as they prepare to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the Commonwealth's unique and deeply divided place in it.

According to the Kentucky Department of Archives and Libraries, more than 75,000 Kentuckians fought for the Union, while roughly 40,000 fought for the Confederacy. As many as one-third died from combat, disease and exposure, historians estimate.

"We were a border state; presidents of the North and South were both from Kentucky; and we had stars on both flags it divided many families here," said Donna Neary, director of Kentucky's 2011-2015 Sesquicentennial Initiative aimed at commemorating the political, economic and cultural impact of the war in a slave-owning border state.

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