I got this note from a friend:
I visited Indiana University in Bloomington last week and saw an unusual bust of an Union Colonel that was commissioned by Confederate soldiers who were interned at Camp Morton near Indianapolis…. I was very moved and impressed that former prisoners of war would want to honor their former commandant 60 years later. He must have been a most remarkable man. I wish I knew more about him as a person and to what extent his kindness may have been motivated by his faith. Don’t know if that information is availalble. Regardless, I find his story truly amazing, especially in light of how some of the guards at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib treated prisoners, and also how some senior government officials want to classify prisoners in such a way as to deny them protection under the Geneva convention. I wish we all could see that in war, even our enemies are still fellow human beings.
I am reminded by the almost impossible admonition of Christ ” You have heard that it was said, “love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…..If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” Yet he challenges us to do the almost impossible.
I have commented little on Iraq in the past because I don’t feel like I know enough to say anything. I think that part of our political problem these days is that so many commentators think that they are experts on everything. Growing up my father told me that the truly dangerous people were those “who know just a little and think they know a lot.”
What I do know, however, is what my friend writes about Richard Owen. That we need more men and women like him.
My friend attached this information that he unearthed:
In 1911, Sumner Archibald Cunningham, the editor of Confederate Veteran Magazine, received permission to place a bronze memorial tablet in honor of the very well liked Camp Morton commandant, Colonel Richard Owen, in Indianapolis. Contributions were so great that a bronze bust of Colonel Robert Owen (shown to the left) was substituted for the tablet and placed in the Indiana State House. Cunningham commissioned Belle Kinney as the sculptor. The bust was dedicated in 1913 in the presence of many veterans, both north and south.
The bust bears the following inscription:
COLONEL RICHARD OWEN
CAMP MORTON PRISON 1862
TRIBUTE BY CONFEDERATE PRISONERS
OF WAR AND THEIR FRIENDS
FOR HIS COURTESY AND KINDNESS
An accounts of him and the remembrance ceremony by a former Confederate:
Scrapbook of R.C. Carden
Old Soldiers of Sixties
Confederates to Pay Tribute to Col. Owen, Commandant of Ft. Morton.
An Unprecedented Event
An Appreciation of Kindness to Prisoners of War–Movement Started by S.A. Cunningham
A most unusual, if not an unprecedented, event is to occur in Indianapolis soon, in the dedication of a memorial bust, in the State Capitol, to Col. Richard Owen by men who were Confederate prisoners in Camp Morton during the early months of 1862.
Col. Owen, as Commander of the Sixtieth Indiana Regiment, was assigned to duty as commandant of the prison in February, 1862, when over 4,000 of the prisoners from Fort Donelson were sent there. This large number of prisoners was placed in the FairGrounds before suitable arrangements could be made for their comfort. The buildings were mainly stalls for horses and other stock in summer time, with the cracks from dried planks so open that the snow and bitter winds caused much suffering, and, as there had not been made proper provision for a supply, the scant ration for twenty four hours was generally eaten immediately after being issued. Through of starvation for about two ???, there was no levity among the prisoners. They were very angry because of their hunger. However, the commandant of the prison was such a fatherly man, and was so zealous in his efforts to provide food and other comforts for the prisoners, that they grew speedily not only to respect, but bore sincere affection for him, and no prisoner was ever heard to utter a murmur against him. Not only was the sentiment prevalent then but through the intervening half century no mention has ever been heard of him by Confederate soldiers except in words of gratitude.
Partisan government authorities were displeased with the spirit of esteem for Col. Owen and an order to send him “to the front” with his regiment was issued. Soon afterwards his command was pitted against the Confederates at Munfordville, Ky., and all were captured. The commander of the victorious forces, riding up to the Sixteenth Indiana Regiment where they had stacked their arms, said:
“Col. Owen, in consideration of your kindness to the prisoners at Camp Morton, you are free to go at will.”
The eminent Owen family of which Richard Owen was a member located at New Harmony, Ind., over a century ago. Robert Owen, the father of Richard, bought out the Rapites of that place who had accumulated a million dollars worth of community property. Robert Owen was a man of philanthropic traits, spending more than one fortune of his own accumulation largely in behalf of the poor in factories. Two years ago the women of Indiana erected a monument in Indianapolis to Richard Owen’s brother, Robert Dale owen, for his zeal in procuring a change in the Indiana laws whereby women could own and control their own property.
Col. Richard Owen, whose deeds of kindness and invariably acts of courtesy to prisoners under his charge, won their esteem, is being honored by these prisoners and their friends. Just previous to the war he was a teacher in the Nashville Military Academy, associated with Bushrod Johnson, a Northern man also, who became a Major General in the Confederate army, while Dr. Owen, through his attachment for the Union, returned to his native Indiana and became Lieutenant Colonel of the Fifteenth Indiana Regiment, and then Colonel of the Sixtieth Regiment. He also commanded for a time the First Brigade of the Tenth Army Corps. the life of a soldier, however, was not congenial to him, and he resigned in 1863 to accept a professorship in the University of Indiana.
While commandant at Camp Morton Col. Owen was criticised by an Indianapolis paper for his consideration of the prisoners. (See War Records, Series 2. Vol 3, pages 515-519). This report shows his merit to the appreciation of all good men of either army or of any army. It is a credit to him as a devoted Union man and as the highest type of a just man.
An from an on-line source: