On a recent trip that took me through Kentucky, I stopped to visit Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery. A student of Victorian death ways, I had long wanted to visit this unique garden cemetery. What had been a 300 acre rural cemetery is now an oasis within the city with several lakes and a fascinating cave with a spring that emerges from it to feed a nearby lake.
But Cave Hill is also a National Cemetery with hundreds of Civil War vets buried there. A special section of Confederate burials can be found in section “O” where a Confederate flag waves above.
While there is a number of Civil War generals buried at Cave Hill – and famously Revolutionary War Brigadier General George Rogers Clark too – it was the monument to Gen. Lovell Rousseau that caught my eye. While not particularly notable for its artistic value, it is a large monument that dominates the area.
Born in Stanford, Kentucky, August 4th, 1818, Rousseau would migrate to the Lexington area as a young adult to study law. Later he would make his way to Indiana to further his law career. There he was elected to the Indiana legislature in 1844.
As captain of the 2nd Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Rousseau served with distinction during the Mexican War. Following the War he moved back to Kentucky. But, like many Mexican War veterans, Rousseau returned to military service with the outbreak of the Civil War.
A dedicated Unionist, Rousseau was frustrated by Kentucky’s avowed early neutrality in the war. He sought to recruit a regiment of Union-loyal Kentucky boys – the 3rd Kentucky Infantry. By October 1862, Rousseau has risen to the rank of Major General.
Rousseau would serve with the Army of the Ohio and later with the Army of the Cumberland. He saw combat leading a brigade at Shiloh and a division at Murfreesboro. From the fall of 1863, he was made commander of the District of Nashville, where he served until resigning in 1865 to accept a seat in Congress.
After a two- year tumultuous political career, Rousseau would return to the military in 1867 after President Johnson made him a brigadier general in the regular army. He was serving in that capacity when he died in New Orleans in January 1869.
Rousseau is not buried at Cave Hill. His remains were interred at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, DC.