January 2014 - Letter from Camp Morton

Every month in 2014, Tim Harmon will be collaborating with a different writer to produce a piece of art about our King Park neighborhoods. January's piece (shown) incorporates a poem by Thomas Alan Orr about the Civil War POW camp that was located near 19th and Talbott.

january t orrLetter from Camp Morton, mixed media assemblage and written word, Tim Harmon/Thomas Alan Orr


Camp Morton housed Confederate POWs during the Civil War.  It was located near 19th and Talbott Streets in Indianapolis.  No trace of the Camp remains today.

At night on Talbott Street, across the years, We hear their voices like a breeze that blows Among the stately houses built where once The barracks stood, their dirt floors turned to slush In winter by half-frozen tramping feet. The words are fresh and clear . . . My Dearest Wife: Please know I live and breathe, a prisoner here. Some soldiers kindly gave me blankets, chew, A Bible, but the guards torment us bad. They forced a boy of just sixteen to bathe In snow and ice. They scrubbed him with a broom, And yesterday he died. What sort of beasts Are men to send a child into this hell? We must endure or perish here.  Last week A man was shot for stepping out of line When roll was called.  Such pointless cruelties! At Christmastime, the townsfolk brought us meat And pies. Perhaps they heard what horror lurks In their fair city.  I will not forget Their mercy, though this place be blotted out. Remember that I love you always, Dear, And if God wills, I shall come home again.