View of soldiers graves near City Point General Hospital, circa 1865; historic cemetery ID shield; Lithograph of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Hampton National Cemetery
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served

Cave Hill National Cemetery

Louisville, Kentucky

Clock Tower
Clock Tower, Cave Hill National Cemetery
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, History Program

Cave Hill National Cemetery, located in Louisville, Kentucky, is comprised of six burial sections at the northwest corner of the privately owned Cave Hill Cemetery, a grand Victorian-era cemetery that provided a proper resting place for the dead within a beautiful park setting.  The national cemetery features rows of marble headstones following the curvilinear pathways of the grounds.  The cemetery is the home of the 32nd Indiana Monument, also known as the Bloedner Monument, the oldest Civil War memorial in the country.

The great number of wounded soldiers at Louisville hospitals, and the Army’s efforts to collect and reinter scattered Union remains throughout the Ohio River Valley, necessitated the creation of a national cemetery in the city.  Cave Hill Cemetery, the most prestigious cemetery in Louisville, donated a 0.65-acre burial section in 1861 for those soldiers who gave their lives serving their country.  Over the next decade, the United States purchased from Cave Hill five more burial sections and a parcel just outside the main gates on which to construct a superintendent’s lodge.  Today, the national cemetery encompasses 4.1 acres within the nearly 300-acre Cave Hill Cemetery.

Because of its location within the larger private cemetery, no walls, fences, or gates surround the Cave Hill National Cemetery, and the only access to the national cemetery is through Cave Hill Cemetery.  The only structure on the national cemetery grounds is the rostrum, at the northwest corner of Section B, adjacent to a lily pond.  A flagpole, originally erected in 1898, is set at the north end of Section A.  A superintendent’s lodge, designed by U.S. Army Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs in the Second Empire style, was built outside the main entrance of Cave Hill Cemetery at Baxter Avenue. The Federal Government sold the superintendent’s lodge  in 1940, but the building remains at 637 Baxter Avenue just north of the dramatic Renaissance Revival clock tower that marks the main entrance to Cave Hill Cemetery.

Bloedner Monument
Bloedner Monument
Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, History Program

The Bloedner Monument is dedicated to the 13 soldiers of the 32nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as the 1st German Regiment, who fell during the Union victory at Rowlett’s Station, Kentucky, in December 1861.  It is often referred to by the name of its creator August Bloedner, a private in the 32nd Regiment, who carved the limestone tablet with a German inscription to honor his comrades.  Dedicated in 1862 at Fort Willich, where the bodies of the 13 soldiers were originally interred, the 32nd Indiana Monument is regarded as the oldest Civil War memorial.  The monument was moved to Cave Hill National Cemetery in 1867 along with the remains of the German soldiers. 

The monument was removed from the Cave Hill National Cemetery in 2008 for conservation treatment, as it had been severely damaged over the years by various environmental factors. It was relocated to the Frazier International Museum of History in Louisville where it will remain on display. A new monument echoing the design of the 32nd Indiana monument containing both German and English inscriptions was placed in Cave Hill National Cemetery in 2010.  For information on the Bloedner Monument, see the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

Other notable places include the Unknown Soldier Monument, a rustic boulder that was dedicated to Union soldiers in 1914, as well as the gravesites of 37 Confederate soldiers.
Plan your visit

Cave Hill National Cemetery is located within the confines of Cave Hill Cemetery, a privately owned and operated cemetery at 701 Baxter Ave., in Louisville, KY.  Click here for the National Register of Historic Places files: text and photographs.  The cemetery is open for visitation daily from 8:00am to 4:45pm; however, no cemetery staff is present on site. The administrative office located at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm, and is closed on all Federal holidays except for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  For more information,  please see the  Cave Hill Cemetery website, contact the cemetery office at 502-893-3852, or visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website.  While visiting, please be mindful that our national cemeteries are hallowed ground.  Be respectful to all of our nation’s fallen soldiers and their families.  Additional cemetery policies may be posted on site.

Cave Hill National Cemetery was photographed to the standards established by the National Park Service’s Historic American Landscape Survey.  Cave Hill Cemetery and several structures within the cemetery, including the Rustic Shelter House, the Ben Smith Mausoleum, and the Salve-Bullett Mausoleum, have been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey.

Next page
Comments or Questions

Itinerary Home | List of sites | Maps | Learn More | Credits | Other Itineraries | NR Home | Search