page 27


      The possible fate of two captured men of the regiment is revealed in the post-war writing of William Friedersdorff, a corporal of Company K at the time of the battle. Responding to inaccurate accounts published in the Confederate Veteran, Friedersdorff wrote an account to a Missouri newspaper and stated in part that, "A farmer showed us two graves six or seven miles south of our little battle and told us they contained the bodies of two of our men murdered by Col. Terry's son while prisoners. We never heard of that youthful "aristocrat" avenging his father's death in open battle." During their remaining stay at Munfordville death would not spare men of the 32nd. [40]

      Before the year would end three more men died from wounds or disease and were interred at the fort. On December 19, Sergeant William Staats of Company F and Private Charles Knab of Company C, both died of wounds received at Rowlett's and the graveside ceremony was repeated again with no less sorrow. On the day after Christmas the burial mound at Fort Willich swelled in size once again as Private Xavier Blodier succumbed to disease. [41]

      In Louisville, Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell awarded a special commendation for gallantry to the 32nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry on December 27. The action itself would become notable as one of the few clashes during the war in which infantry, caught in the open, effectively defended themselves against repeated and seemingly overwhelming cavalry assaults. The Department of the Ohio General Order Number 23 stated in part that Buell wished to commend the 32nd " a study and example to all other troops under his command, and enjoins them to emulate the discipline and instruction which insure such results. The name of 'Rowlett's Station' will be inscribed on the regimental colors..." [42]

      Accolades came from the state of Indiana by way of Adjutant General Lazarus Noble on January 10. From Indianapolis Noble wrote, "The Governor of Indiana, on behalf of the people of the State, tenders this tribute of thanks to Lt. Col. Von. Trebra and the companies of the 1st German, 32nd Regiment Indiana, Volunteers, who so gallantly and successfully defended themselves and repulsed the enemy when attacked at Rowlett's Station, near Green River, Kentucky, on the 17th of December, 1861. He has witnessed with pride the General Order of the General Commanding for the inscription of 'Rowlett's Station,' on the Regimental colors, and regards with confidence the future career of the regiment under Col. Willich and his brave officers."

      Victory at Rowlett's Station also provided the North with a much-needed respite from a string of humiliating defeats occurring nearly monthly in other theaters since the war began. Virginia staged the initial Union defeat at Big Bethel the first week of June, followed by the disastrous rout near Bull Run in July, and the embarrassing debacle at Ball's Bluff in October. In western Missouri, Confederate forces held off attacking Yankees and ultimately bested them at Wilson's Creek near Springfield in early August. Along the Mississippi River in November, General Grant had certain victory snatched away through a lack of discipline among his troops at the battle of Belmont.

      Newspapers across the North lavished praise on the 32nd Indiana for the staggering blow laid on the Rebels. The German-American press, such as Louisville's Anzeiger and the Cincinnati Volksblatt, exalted the success for weeks. Reports included the romanticized, though uncorroborated, tale of daring attributed to a young 17-year-old soldier of the regiment. The youth, shunning the confines of formation, broke ranks and, from under cover, fired his weapon fourteen times, "every shot bearing a message of death to some misguided rebel." [43]

      Initially, these newspapers also churned out a considerable amount of criticism for Willich's inopportune absence from the battlefield. But, despite the minor detached criticism, Willich would have additional reason to feel great pride and accomplishment. On January 19, 1862, the Willich-trained Die Neuner gained renown at the battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky, after their stout bayonet charge against the Confederate left escalated into a total enemy rout. A second Union victory with a German accent! Before the fervor of Rowlett's Station died in the press, Willich and his regiment adjusted to the more mundane duty of the soldier's life.

      Activity in the area diminished and the 32nd Indiana was relegated to garrison duty at Munfordville. The dull monotony of camp life was often augmented by each company alternating night picket duty at the post on the south side of the river near Rowlett's Station. At night, in the face of the enemy, every tree creak, animal movement, every sound and shadow became the lurking foe. Gone now were those lingering Indian summer days and nights. The weather returned to the characteristic cold, driving rains, and the sleet and snowstorms common to Kentucky winters.

<< previous page  next page >>

Return to Table of Contents
Return to Top of Page


 [40] Fritsch, 34-35.
 [41] Conner, Vol. 8 "Roll of Honor," 501-504.

 [42] Official Records (1898), Vol. VII (S/N #7), Chap. XVII, 16.
 [43] New Albany Daily Ledger, Dec. 21, 1861, 2, col. 2.