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      Passing silently through the picket lines of their comrades, von Trebra led the detail rapidly down the turnpike. As the Union troops approached Munfordville, the Confederates retreated after partially destroying the south end of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Bridge over the Green River. Von Trebra could do little more than establish a defensive position and await reinforcements. The remainder of the 32nd Indiana arrived in town with Johnson's brigade on Thursday morning, December 12, followed by Brigadier General Thomas J. Wood's 5th Brigade.

      Willich immediately ordered two companies to rush across the river to provide security for work parties that would be assigned to repair the damaged span. The primary concern became the construction of a temporary pontoon bridge to gain rapid access to the south side and strong enough to support military traffic. As the pontoniers set about their duties, the companies on the opposite bank formed a skirmish line and advanced to establish picket posts nearly a mile forward of the bridge.

      Late Saturday evening, Rebel cavalry vedettes of Colonel Benjamin F. Terry's 8th Texas Cavalry, better known as Terry's Texas Rangers, suddenly attacked pickets of the 32nd Indiana on the south side of the river. Two of Willich's men were captured, and at dawn he led two companies in pursuit of the captors. In a brief skirmish with Confederate horsemen, two soldiers of the 32nd were wounded and four of the enemy killed. Sergeant Ernst Meyer of Company H claimed the honorable distinction of being the first man of the regiment wounded in combat. The detail returned to their posts nearer the river leading two captured horses. Crews at work on the pontoon toiled continuously to complete the bridge by Sunday night, December 15. [25]

      With the pontoon in place, Willich promptly ordered two companies across the river to reinforce the troops on duty there and he posted four companies as skirmishers on the north side. The companies rotated duty stations regularly once the guard mount was established as attention turned toward the damaged rail span. Prior to the arrival of engineers from Louisville, the regiment performed what work they could.

      Lieutenant Peitzuch, commanding the pontoniers, initiated repair to the bridge by clearing debris. His crew became highly proficient at installing the floating bridges or making temporary repairs to existing structures. Many of the men under Peitzuch's command had similar experience in civilian occupations, so it became a matter of meshing together as a team. Their engineering skills had been well tested in operations along the rail replacing or repairing the smaller trestles damaged by the Rebels, but what loomed before them would be a severe challenge to even well equipped civil engineers.

      Civilian stonemasons, led by Superintendent of Railroads Albert Fink, arrived from Louisville on Monday evening, December 16, to direct operations. Mr. Fink, a renowned German Civil Engineer, had designed and supervised the construction project of the Green River Bridge just two years before. Ironically, it was the local stonemasons he hired to construct the span that used their expertise in setting the explosives that toppled the pier. [26] Fink surveyed the damage and quickly assigned crews, augmented by Willich's men, to various tasks, transforming the site into a spectacle of activity.

      Confederate sappers had expertly drilled a large cavity into the base of the shortest massive stone support pillar on the south side of the bridge. After packing kegs of powder into the hole, the ensuing explosion destroyed the pier and approximately 100 feet of track. [27] The 90-foot height of the collapsed section complicated the task of reconstruction. Reports indicated that a second pier was rigged for destruction but Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner, a former resident of the area, could not bring himself to issue the order to blow the second section. Work crews toiled continuously to restore the crossing, regardless of approaching enemy forces.

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 [25] New Albany Daily Ledger, Dec. 18, 1861, 2, col. 2; Frank Moore, Civil War in Song and Story (1889), P.F. Collier, Publisher, 252; Official Records (1898), Vol. VII (S/N #7), Chap. XVII, 769.
 [26] John W. Key of Woodsonville and his two sons, Abner Lewis Key and John Martin Key, built the masonry of the bridge in just over two years. They planted the explosives in the two southern piers.
 [27] Dodge, 91; Col. Thomas Joshua Harrison, 39th Ind. Inf., in letter to his wife, Mrs. Louvisa E. Harrison, Kokomo, Ind. (Dec. 20, 1861), in: Hart County Historical Quarterly (Oct., 1988), Vol. XX, No. 4, 8.