A one-act play by William Oscar Bates, set in the office of Governor Oliver P. Morton, Polly Of Pogue’s Run was first performed in 1917 by the Little Theatre Society (later known as Civic Theatre) of Indianapolis. Literary historian Arthur W. Shumaker described the play as “a slender one-act patriotic composition.” The plot draws on the turmoil in Indiana during the Civil War. Republican governor Morton is pitted against the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secret society of “Peace Democrats” and southern sympathizers, as he seeks financing to send Indiana soldiers to war.

Over the course of the play, the Knights deputize young Polly Trowbridge from the governor’s home county of Wayne to assassinate him. She and her aunt are arrested in the company of several like-minded young rebels on a train in an incident mirroring the real-life Battle Of Pogue’s Run. Undaunted, she faces the governor with a gun poised to fire but relents when confronted with the force of his arguments against slavery. Her capitulation is so wholehearted that she hands him a list of potential assassins and begs him to let her stay on in his service.

Bates, a graduate of North Western Christian University (Butler University) and Cornell University, wrote for a number of newspapers, not only in Indianapolis, but in New York, Ohio, and Minnesota. He also wrote dialogue for The Indianapolis Centennial Pageant (1920) as well as other plays.

Revised March 2021

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