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LIVE WAR EAGLE
EIGHTH KEGIMENT WISCONSIN VOLUNTEEKS,
BY JOSEPH 0. BARRETT.
■ Ah ! that Eagle of Freedom ! when cloud upon cloud
Swathed the sky of my own native land with a shroud :
When lightnings gleamed fiercely and thunder bolts rung,
How proud to the tempest those pinions were flung;
Though the wild blast of battle swept swiftly the air
With darkness and dread, still the Eagle was there —
Unquailing and towering his high flight was on,
Till the Rainbow of Peace crowned the victory won."
PUBLISHED B~52" ALFRED X,. SEWELL,
13S LAKE STKEET, CHICAGO.
DUNLOP, SEWELL & SPALDING, PRINTERS.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865,
By ALFRED L. SEWELL,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the
Northern District of Illinois.
NOTE TO THE READER.
The incidents herein described were related by valid witnesses,
whose valuable services are gratefully acknowledged. Aside from
the "Romances of the Eagle," they actually occurred. This book
has been written under severe pressure of other duties. This
edition is a gift to the sick and wounded soldiers, who, by their
sacrifices, have now consecrated our native land. As an item of
love in the inventory of ' Sanitary Supplies," I trust it may find
an humble niche in the voluminous histories of the Holy Crusade
of the Nineteenth Century, and focalize its tiny spark in the
great flame of patriotism that is sunning the American heart,
to make there an Eden, beautiful and clean, without the Serpent
"Cast thy bread upon the waters, and thou shalt receive it
after many days."
J. O. B.
Eau Claire, Wis., March 25, 1865.
"Old Abe" is the Yankee appellation of Abraham Lincoln,
the beloved President of the United States, and immortalized
Emancipator, and is the living emblem of the Freedom he has
faithfully guarded and saved to the world ; it is. therefore, fitting
that this little volume should be dedicated to him, in remem-
brance of his pure example of merciful justice and patriotism
which, for all time, endear him to his countrymen.
Note. — Since the above dedication, " Father Abraham," by the cruel hand
of an assassin, has passed from earth to heaven. But so precious is his name,
we do not propose to change anything; for is he not now, like the hovering
wings of the American Eagle, our presiding national angel ? Among the heart-
monuments to his memory, let this be one, tearfully offered to the people he
By the Author.
Chicago, 111., May ist, 1865.
THE LIVE EAGLE
EIGHTH WISCONSIN REGIMENT.
" Lo ! the poor Indian whose untutored mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind."
In northern Wisconsin, at the head-waters of the Flambeau
and Eau Claire rivers — tributaries of the classic Chippewa —
live a branch-tribe of the Ojibways, known as the Flambeaus.
During the winter, they follow the instincts of the deer, hunt-
ing them along the borders of the forest ; towards spring they
gradually recede to the maple-topped hills, to manufacture
their sugar ; and at the beginning of summer, are again cir-
cling around the Loc Flambeau.
The personage who captured the Eagle of the Eighth Regi-
ment of Wisconsin Volunteers, is a celebrity among these Indi-
ans. As the infant history of the bird is essential to the
completeness of this book, it was necessary to find that Indian,
and in the most unfavorable season of the year. It was like
searching for a particular fish in the sea; but, making the
attempt, the author sent letters to different individuals, holding
commercial relations with the Indians, soliciting the strictest
Meanwhile, the matter was submitted to the judgment of
two esteemed friends, of Chippewa Falls, herein mentioned,
who immediately undertook the task, with sanguine faith.
They first found the man Avho bought the Eagle, and taking
his testimony, compared it with that of others — all of whom
are personally acquainted with the Indian — and had the satis-
10 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
faction of knowing that the evidence harmonizes. One of these
gentlemen then visited an old country Frenchman, John Bru-
net, the first white settler of Chippewa Falls, and from him
obtained other corroborative facts, which banished every shade
of doubt as to the identity of the Indian.
The following letter, from Mr. Coleman, Editor of the
Chippewa Falls Union, who is a young man of veracity and
patriotism, explains the whole plan of operations, so success-
fully executed :
Chippewa Falls, Wis., Feb. 13, 1865.
J. O. Bareett, Esq.
Dear Sir. — Having been engaged for a short time in the col-
lection of information relative to the capture and early owner-
ship of the Eagle of the 8th Wisconsin Regiment, whose his-
tory you are about to publish, I take pleasure in submitting a
few facts in regard to the progress made.
Ascertaining, first, that the Eagle had been sold to Mr. Dan-
iel McCann, of the town of Eagle Point, in this county, by
some Indians, you wished me to discover, if possible, who those
Indians were, and to secure their presence at Eau Claire, at an
early day. I learned from Mr. McCann that the Indians who
had brought the Eagle to him in the summer of 1861, were of
the Lake Flambeau tribe, and that the owner was a son of Ah-
monse, Chief of that tribe, or band, of Chippewa Indians. I
proceeded to obtain corroborative evidence of this account,
and found, through the evidence of Mr. John Brunet, Mr. Jas.
Ermatinger, Mr. Charles Corbine, and others — all old residents
of the upper Chippewa and Flambeau rivers, — besides, the
testimony of different Indians, who were acquainted with the
facts of the capture of the Eagle, that it was correct. All ac-
counts agree that the name of the captor of the bird is O-ge-
mah-we-ge-zhig, or Chief Sky, one of five sons of the said
Ah-monse. Having satisfied myself by such evidence, and by
other inquiries made in every direction, that there could be
no mistake in the identity of the captor of the Eagle, I have
made arrangements, according to your directions to bring the
said O-ge-mah-we-ge-zhig to Eau Claire, as soon as possible.
He is now with his band, hunting between the head-waters of
the Yellow and Flambeau rivers, and is shortly expected at
Brunet' s Falls, on the Chippewa.
Wishing you full success in the publication of your work,
I remain, with much respect, Yours Truly,
Ascertaining that O-ge-mah-we-ge-zhig, with other hunters,
would soon arrive at the point — about the middle of February
— on their way up the river, Mr. Coleman engaged Mr. Brunet
to detain him until a concerted moment. At length they came,
the Indian with them, to whom was communicated the wishes
of the " white man at Eau Claire," who desired to talk with
him about the Eagle he caught a few years ago. He hesitated,
apprehensive of a trick — for all whites had not been true to
their " red brethren." Finally, he appealed to Ah-monse, his
father, who is Chief of the tribe. It was a grave question ;
indeed, they were all afraid of being arrested for capturing an
American Eagle ! After a long council together, Ah-monse,
without further waiting, resolved to go to Chippewa Falls,
requiring his boys to follow the next day, and bring the adorn-
ments, that they might appear in proper costume, in case all
was right. There he had an interview with an influential
citizen, who is a friend of all the parties concerned, and was
convinced that the call should be obeyed. Meeting his boys,
as before arranged, he selected two of them — O-ge-mah-we-ge-
zhig and O-zha-wash-co-ge-zhig — and with Messrs. Theo. Cole-
man and W. W. Barrett, and Elijah Ermatinger an inter-
preter, rode to Eau Claire, arriving at noon, of the 19th of
February 1865, and was welcomed with a cordiality, that at
once inspired mutual confidence. A simplicity, a dignity, a
noble pride, were clearly manifest in these distinguished per-
sonages so profusely adorned with feathers. The facts herein
related of the infant history of the Eagle were furnished by
O-ge-mah-we-ge-zhig and Ah-monse, and were told with easy
The likenesses of these aborigines were taken by A. J.
Devor of Eau Claire, and never did mortal feel his consequence
more fully than O-ge-mah-Ave-ge-zhig when preparing himself
for the " sitting." Seeing his image transferred upon a plate,
he gave an ejaculation of joy — a smile and then a gutteral
The connoisseur will discover by the accompanying engrav-
ing, taken from the original, that O-ge-mah-we-ge-zhig is a
character. Look at that thick-set frame — that quiet, cool de-
meanor of person — that black steady eye — that big nose, akin
to Roman — that resolute life — that wall of perceptives — that
12 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
basal brain of slumbering passion — that coronal region of vague
spirituality. He is pure Indian blood — an eagle-man. Nor is
he wanting in artistic taste. His Mackinaw blanket folds over
his shoulder, according to his own style of dignity. Trinkets,
in imitation of gold dollars strung together with a chain, to
which are attached photographs of Lincoln and Hamlin, are
suspended from his ears, partially Jiidden by hanks of braided
hair. Around his neck, loosely hanging down his broad chest,
is an ingeniously wrought sash constructed of beads set in
variously colored figures, and a fine blue guard of the same
material. His pouch for tobacco and other valuable articles, is
a young bear's skin ; his tomahawk was carved from Lake
Superior copper, serving as a pipe in which to smoke the luscious
Kinnickinnic. With his woolen comforter he made a crown
for his head ; and under this he tucked his feathers. Quite self-
complaisant and consequential for a man only twenty-five years
old. It is glory for him to be known as the captor of the
American Eagle of the Eighth Wisconsin. His home is far to
the north where his two little girls and his chubby boy await
his return from council with the white man.
In his infancy, our Eagle was royal, afterwards loyal to
his birth-right liberty. A National Bird, it was appropriate
that a "red brother," the wild and free, of a peaceful tiibe,
should capture him; and that our " sable bi-other" should wel-
come him as the symbol of a blood-bought emancipation, thus
mutually representing the neglected, yet holy claims, of a for-
saken and oppressed humanity. God is in the symbol ; let us
remember how broad and impartial is his justice. Let O-ge-
mah-we-ge-zhig be, as his name purports " Chief Sky " in which
the Bird of Liberty shall war in clouds of wrath against all
enemies of our Mother-Land.
Ah-monse (the Thunder of Bees) has four other sons, two
younger, and two older, than the Eagle-Indian, and one
daughter — " Queen of Speech." His life has been a checkered
one. He is a noted hunter and warrior who in palmier days,
ere the white man came, fought the Sioux. He has visited
Washington several times, and once during the war of the
Rebellion, when he held a peace council with President Lincoln,
his " great father," whom he " loves very much," for he " gave
him plenty of money " and lands for his children, and let him
NATIVE HOME OP THE EAGLE. 13
see a battle-field where the dead lay " thick like the leaves of
NATIVE HOME OF THE EAGLE.
See her ! where
She sits, in the glow of the sun-bright air,
With wing half poised, and talons bleeding,
And kindling eye, as if her prey-
Had suddenly been snatched away,
While she was tearing it and feeding. —
Above the dark torrent, above the bright stream
The voice may be heard
Of the thunderer's bird
Calling out to her god in a clear, wild scream,
As she mounts to his throne, and unfolds in his beam ;
While her young are laid out in his rich, red blaze,
And their winglets are fledged in his hottest rays.
One of the main branches of the »* Father of waters," clas-
sic in Indian history, is the Chippewa river, fed by a thousand
springs from the far north, and winding through a country di-
versified with the most varying, soils, surfaces, and scenery,
anywhere known in the Great West. Sixty miles from its
mouth, at the junction of the Eau Claire with the Chippewa,
dotting all the shores, is the promising embryo city of Eau
Claire. Twelve miles from this, right among the pines, is the
village of Chippewa Falls ; grown as by magic, under the
charm of lumbering enterprise, a trading point for the Indians.
Twenty miles thence, beyond a rich prairie country, commen-
ces a forest, which, for its vastness, is christened the " Big
Woods." One — three — five miles more, and we strike Brunei's
Falls, where are grotesque cottages and wigwams. Here shoot
off seventy-five miles to the right a winding among gigantic
trees, dark and majestic, where *the fire flies dance in summer,'
and we alight on the gem-lake of the woods — Loc Flambeau —
which is one of the great feeders of the river bearing the same
name. Start not; we are in the land of the dusky tribes. That
14 HISTORY OP THE LIVE EAGLE.
scream was an eagle's ; that yell was an Indian's ; that rum-
bling sound was a partridge's, drumming with her wings ; that
tramp was the deer's, bounding through the thicket. Ten
miles across here, on the north side, fronting an island where
Ah-monse lives, "monarch of all he surveys," is the Indian vil-
lage — the sweet home of the maidens* and jovial warriors.
What spot in all the world is better chosen ? If you want ro-
mance, rude architecture, rustic beauty, balsamic air, and
Indian legends, come here and spend the summer months.
Here the Great Spirit showers his blessings upon his " chosen
people " — these lands are theirs" and all the game — let not the
pale face trespass !
Here, too, is the birth home of the American Eagle, so
famous in the history of the second war for independence.
What more fitting ? Let us float over a sluggish creek, south-
ward, only six miles, and thence three more over a lily expanse
— the little Flambeau — and thence into the Flambeau river,
whose silver tides are shadowed by drooping elms and pines.
So engaging is this picturesque landscape and water, we are
unconscious of time, or distance, but remember Ave are about
three miles from the last lake. Listen — rapids ahead — and
now we rush upon them around a bend that curves slightly
towards the east. Note that background of hills in a merry
row, on the west side, and just opposite, that Avoody prairie.
Yonder you discover a -clump of pines, quite dense, the once
statliest among them lying prostrate, with its top broken off".
Well, that is the spot Avhere our Eagle was born and nursed —
a spot sacred in story, patriotic in song, memorable in the his-
tory of the Great Rebellion ; for here sprung into being the
living emblem of the victor — freedom which is sealed with
the price of precious blood,
As the home of the Eagle is of peculiar interest to the pa-
triotic reader, the following letter, and the map in front are
inserted, giving a careful and accurate description of it ■
Chippewa Falls, Wis.. Feb. 25th, 1865.
My Dear Brother :
According to your request, I will give you what information
I have obtained of the ChippeAva Country, and especially of
the Home of your Pet Eagle. Enclosed I send you a map of
this country*, being a perfect copy from J. I. Lloyd's NeAV Map
* For Map see front of book.
KATIVE HOME OP THE EAGLE. 15
of the United States, with a slight change in the location of the
Flambeau Lakes and tributaries, which are copied from a
drawing made for me by Ah-monse and the Eagle-Indian. I
can find no maps representing the United States Surveys of
To-day I saw Israel Gould, the Indian Interpreter, who
rendered you so valuable assistance last summer on your Indian
Expedition. At my request he drew a map of the Flambeau
and its Lakes, and it agreed precisely with the drawing made
by Ah-monse and his son.
Mr. Gould is an intelligent Scotchman and has lived with the
Chippewa Indians for fifteen year's. He has a good knowledge
of Indian character and probably is one of the best of Indian
interpreters. At one time he lived one year at Flambeau
Lake, or Ah-monse's Lake, as it is most generally called, trading
with Ah-monse and his tribe, and consequently, he is well
acquainted with their country. I have much confidence in his
account of the location of these Lakes ; and as all the other
Indian traders, and trappers, and Ah-monse, and the Eagle-
Indian, do agree with him, I believe you can rely upon my map
as being correct. I will give his description of this country:
The whole Chippewa Country is well watered with innumer-
able streams, swamps, lakes and rivers ; its surface varies in
hills and bluffs, prairies, oak openings and meadows, and is
covered, for the most part, with every variety of Hardwood,
Norway and White Pine. The soil in many places is good,
while many of the hills and bluffs are rocky, and in its northern
portion is to be found iron, copper, and other minerals. It is
inhabited by the various tribes of the Chippewa Indians, and
abounds in wild beasts, fish and birds.
The Flambeau River is a wide, crooked stream, the longest
tributary of the Chippewa, and its general course is south-west.
Upon its north fork are the Mapids, at which place the Eagle-
Indian said he caught the Eagle. It is about 125 miles from
Eau Claire, 70 miles from the mouth of Flambeau River, and
80 or 90 miles from Lake Superior. It is three miles from here
to Little Flambeau, or Asken Lake, which is three miles long ;
six miles further north is Flambeau, or Ah-monse's Lake — a
stream uniting the two. This is the largest of the Flambeau
Lakes, being three miles wide and six long. It is a beautiful
stream of clear, pure water, where are found fish of many vari-
eties. The meaning of its Indian name is " Fire-Hunting Lake."
Near its northern shore is a fine island, where Ah-monse fre-
quently lives. On its eastern shore is a pretty, sloping hill,
nearly forty feet high, covered with maples. Here, overlooking
the Lake, the Indians, a few years ago, had their villages, which
are now located upon the north and north-west shores, where
they have cleared their land, leaving now and then a shade
16 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
tree, giving the country a beautiful appearance. The soil is
good ; and here they raise their corn and potatoes. Farther to
the north is Rice Lake, the chain of Lakes, the Big Portage
and the Montreal River. A few years ago, this was the route
of the Indian traders, going from Lake Superior to Eau Claire.
The country near the Lakes, for two miles east and west of
the river, and about four miles in all directions from the Lakes,
is low prairie land, covered with hard-wood, with here and
there a lonesome pine; while beyond, in all directions, the
country is uneven and hilly, and wooded with the dark pine.
In this sequestered country, Ah-monse and his tribe have
lived for many years, subsisting upon their corn and potatoes,
rice and sugar, fish and game. The Flambeau tribe is the
most enterprising and intelligent of the Chippewas. Their
warriors number from 140 to 150 men, and they kill more game
than any other tribe. Here is found the deer and elk, the mink
and marten, the bear and otter, and also the fish-hawk, the owl
and the eagle, and other birds. Mr. Gould says it is an Eagle
Country, he having seen more there than in any other, and has
there found many eagL's nests, containing from two to four
young birds. Having seen the Eagle at different times, he is
satisfied that it is a Bald Eagle, and this is the opinion of the
Mr. Gould says, Asken Lake is situated about five miles east
of the fourth principal' meridian, which line is well defined upon
the river bank ; and if he is correct, and I rely upon his state-
ment, then the Eagle must have been caught in Chippewa
County, in, or near, township forty, north of range one, east of
the fourth principal meridian, nearly four miles from its eastern
Trusting my map and letter may aid you in obtaining a bet-
ter idea of the Home of the Eagle, I remain
Your Brother for Freedom and Union,
W. W. BARRETT.
THE CAPTURE. 17
When Freedom from her mountain height
Unfurl' d her standard to the air,
She tore the azure robe of night,
And set her stars of glory there.
She mingled with its gorgeous dyes
The milky baldric of the skies,
And striped its pure celestial white,
With streakings of the morning light ,
Then from his mansion in the sun
She called her eagle-bearer down,
And gave into his mighty hand
The symbol of her chosen land.
In" the spring of 1801, four Indian families built their wig-
wams at the bend just described, to engage in sugar-making
and hunting. One sunny day, about noon, O-ge-mah-we-ge-
zhig, and his father-in-law and two sons, and his cousin, took
each his canoe, with gun and dogs, for a grand hunt. Just as
they swooped up the rapids, O-ge-mah-we-ge-zhig heard a
melodious whistle above them, and looking up, saw a strong-
Eagle gaily swimming in the air, carrying in her talons a fish,
evidently disturbed at the intrusion. Holding his canoe still,
his quick eye followed her devious course until she alighted in
that thicket of pines, on one of which, far up almost to the
top, he dimly discerned her nest. One shot from his unerring
gun would have brought that bird down bleeding at the heart ;
but knowing that at this season she was rearing her young,
he suggested to his friends that her life be spared.
By right of discovery and contiguity to his wigwam, O-ge-
mah-we-ge-zhig was acknowledged to be the lawful claimant
of the nest. Many a time did he and his little family watch
with prophetic hope those parent birds, as they came from the
lakes, laden with their prey for the eaglets ; and as often did
they visit the tree, and look up through the tasseled branches to
the broad nest, trying to catch a glimpse of their unfledged
When the sun had ascended to his northern tropic,
18 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
O-ge-mali-we-ge-zliig thought it prudent to capture his eaglets,
One week's delay might be too much, for they were growing
rapidly. So he and his men, taking their little dull axes, com-
menced the slow process of cutting down the nest-tree, for it
was impossible to climb it. At this time the old birds were
away hunting for food. Round and round they hacked,
severing but little more than a fibre at a time ; but persever-
ance conquered, for there came a creaking, then a reeling, then
a dying groan, then a crash. Giving the war-whoop, O-ge-
mah-we-ge-zhig sprung to the tree-top, which broke in the
concussion, just as the two eagles slid out from under the
brush, running into the grass to hide. With a bound he
caught the larger eagle, laughing outright, and one of his
companions caught the other, which by accident received some
injury not then discoverable. They were not quite as large
as prairie chickens, being but a few weeks old, and were cov-
ered all over with a darkish down. When they had reached
the camp — distant about three-quarters of a mile — the four
squaws and flock of children came out to meet them with
smiles, joyfully exclaiming, " Mee-ke-zeen-ce ! Mee-ke-zeence !
As the " Eagles were so pretty," tney made a nest in a small
tree, close by the wigwam of " Chief Sky," after the style of
the old one, and there fostered them with vigilant fondness,
feeding them with fish, venison, and other meat. The smaller
one soon pined away and died, and sad indeed was the little
On the day of moving to the Indian village, soon after, first,
in the inventory of household goods, was the Eagle, on which
was now lavished a double affection. For him a space with a
grassy-bed was specially reserved in O-ge-mah-we-ge-zhig's
canoe. On landing at the village, old and young, like chatter-
ing blackbirds, crowded around the Eagle, each grunting
delight in true native vigor. Bless him, what a pet to love !
Ah-monse was particularly pleased with him, " he was so smart
and tame." He was so domesticated as to need no confinement
whatever, but would sit the live-long day, demurely watching
the playing dogs and children, and patiently waiting for a
wiggling fish from the lake.
SELLING THE EAGLE. 19
SELLING THE EAGLE.
O-ge-mah-we-ge-zhig wanted food for his hungry children ;
what should he do ? After due deliberation, he determined to
sell his Eagle to the white man at Chippewa Falls, or Eau
Claire. Four Indians — neither of whom helped in capturing
the Eagle — were going down to these towns to trade off their
furs, and he proposed to join their company, adding to his own
cargo his favorite bird.
Passing over the lakes and river, and stopping one night at
" Brunet's," — where for the first time our Eagle was caressed
by white men — and awhile at the portage of "Jim's Falls," they
drew their two canoes to the shore of the Chippewa, near the
residence of Daniel McCann, who, by accident, met them there,
and casually asked, " where are you going ? " With an awk-
ward spring, the bird slipped into the water for a bath, which
amused the spectators vastly ; and as the Indian drew him out,
McCann inquired, " What in the world is it ? " On being
informed that it was an eagle, he bantered O-ge-mah-we-ge-
zhig to sell him. Troubled at the thought of parting from his
pet, he told the white man that he did not know what the Eagle
wa:, worth, and, looking longingly at him, added with a half-
earnestness, that he wanted to take him back to his wigwam.
At last, McCann offered a bushel of corn, which, on serious
reflection, was accepted with the proviso annexed — Indian
always — of something to eat. The price was duly paid — the
Eagle was sold ! The Indians then ambled off to the market,
where they remained that night.
We must now r bid adieu to O-ge-mah-we-ge-zhig, wishing for
him a long and happy life. May his children and children's
children ever preserve in their traditions the story of the Wis-
consin Eagle which he gave to a nation solemnly pledged, by
virtue of the law of a common brotherhood, to protect and suc-
cor those whom our injustice heretofore has banished from our
fellowship, whom the Great Spirit orders shall yet possess a
Reserved Home, under the banners of a redeemed Union.
Mi. McCann says, that, during the few weeks he kept the
Eagle, he " grew very fast and saucy." Whilst watching his
20 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
belligerent freaks among his other domestic animals, the idea
one day " struck him like a brick," that his Eagle should go to
the war. So taking him hi his wagon, he rode to Chippewa
Falls, and there, after several ineffectual attempts to sell him,
recommended him, as a candidate-soldier, to Hon. Rodman
Palmer who was then raising recruits for the 1st. Wis. Batteiy.
Unable to go himself, on account of ill-health, and failing in
getting his men into that regiment, Mr. P. abandoned his pro-
ject of buying him, but suggested that he be carried to the
company just organizing in Eau Claire for the Eighth Wisconsin
Infantry. McCann accordingly went to this town with his
valuable charge, in August 1861, the bird being then about
two months old.
THE EAGLE A VOLUNTEER.
'Tis come — his hour of martyrdom
In freedom's sacred cause is come ; —
* * * * * And by its light
Watch through the hours of slavery's night,
For vengeance on the oppressor's crime.
The ancient poets say, that an eagle furnished Jupiter with
weapons in his war with the giants, and " armed the skies."
Is it all a fable ? Are not symbols the instruments of cor-
responding action? Does not our u dear old flag " suggest to
the patriot a great truth — the priceless value of the American
Union? What, then, can better enkindle the fires of valor,
and intensify them into unquenchable light, than the imagery
of the Bald Eagle whose realm of glory is among our " Stars ? "
If the shadow thus nerves the soul, what must the real create
but impetuous energy in the battle shock ? The live emblem
of our Liberty ! — Persian and Roman as a military standard —
what surer augury of conquest over base rebellion need the
soldier ask ?
" Will you buy my Eagle," said McCann, addressing a sol-
dier, "buy him for your company — only two dollars mid a
SWEAKING THE EAGLE. 21
" Here, boys, let's put in twenty-five cents a piece," answered
Frank McGuire, with convincing emphasis.
After examining his wings, his back, his talons, his eyes, his
muscles generally, the soldiers present tendered their subscrip-
tions with ludicrous prophecies about the fighting qualities of
the new volunteer.
" I say, John, look at that eye — isn't there lightning ? "
" Yes, but his claws — are they not terrible hooks for a gos-
" Will he yell, Mister, right loud and smart ? "
" Like to see him, after the rebels, in battle, Billy ! "
" Guess he's worth his weight in scrip — never saw such big
toes, and hooked nose ! "
While the jolly fellows were thus cracking jokes in admira-
tion of the rara avis, Frank was busy collecting quarters.
Meeting a civilian (S. M. Jeffers), he solicited a contribution
but was rebuffed with an indifferent denial. When the soldiers
heard of this, they immediately marched down to that gentle-
man's place of business, and gave him three lusty groans, hear-
ing which Mr. Jeffers inquired what it meant. " Because you
will not help buy the Eagle for the Boys," was the jeering
retort. Misunderstanding their object at first, he laughed, and,
taking out a quarter-eagle, paid for the Bird and presented him
to the Company, the subscriptions being returned to the donors.
The story runs, that Frank also gave something for the Eagle,
aside from the regular price, but a " double purchase " did no
harm to our Bird ; at any rate, " Mills," after that, had cheers
instead of groans.
SWEARING THE EAGLE.
In due time, the Eagle was sworn into the United States
service by putting around his neck " red, white, and blue "
ribbons, and on his breast a rosette of the same colors. Thus
attired, he really appeared as if conscious of his royal dignity.
22 HISTOKY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
The first editorial notice of his majesty was given in the
Eau Claire Free Press of Sept. 5, 1861, as follows:
" The American Eagle. — The Eau Claire Badgers are going
into battle under the protective aegis of the veritable American
Eagle. It was captured by the Indians of the Chippewa River,
and purchased by the Badgers. Its perch is to be the flag-
staff of the Stars and Stripes. Who could not fight under so
glorious emblems ? "
THE FIRST EAGLE BEARER.
James McGennis, a young man of romantic ambition, enter-
tained a peculiar partiality for the " fledgeling," and craved the
privilege of superintending him, to which all tacitly assented.
In a few days, he produced a respectable perch. The first
time he was carried on this a la military, through the principal
streets of Eau Claire, the scene so excited two patriotic ladies
of the town, that, in their haste to make two little flags to be
placed on each side of him, they got the stripes on in reverse
order. " Try again and keep cool," was the suggestion made
to them, and this time success crowned the effort. How gay
and imposing was his appearance as he rode in imperial state
beneath his miniature flags !
None were more delighted than the young lads. Every day
they visited him, offering various kinds of food, and talking to
him, mimicking his motions, but never daring to handle him.
DEPARTING FOR THE WAR.
Then farewell home ! and farewell friends !
Adieu, each tender tie !
Resolved we mingle in the tide,
Where charging squadrons furious ride,
To conquer, ' or to die !
On the morning of the Gth of Sept. 1861, a hurrying crowd
gathered on the levee where lay the steamer Stella Whipple.
THE GREETING AT LA CROSSE. 23
A cold drizzling rain beat down from the north-west, but
scarcely was it noticed. It was the parting hour ! —
— shout, sob, and greeting,
Love's deep devotion constantly meeting. —
Held back by the entreaties of weeping friends, Captain
John E. Perkins found it difficult to get his men on board.
Holding up his precious charge to the gaze of the multitude,
the Eagle Bearer stood there alone on the upper deck, ex-
posed to the sleety blast that Avas fiercely trying his mettle.
He seemed a Roman soldier. " All aboard ! " shouted the
Captain the third time with a stentorian voice. One warm
pressure of the hand, one tearful " good-bye," and the
" Boys " obeyed. The engine sprung to duty, the bell rung,
off swung the steamer in a graceful curve; and just as she
reached the current, three more cheers from the people on
shore greeted the stalwart band. Hands were raised, and
kerchiefs waved adieu. " God bless them ! God bless them
and TnEiR Eagle ! " was the prayer of the reflecting friends
returning to their homes.
THE GREETING AT LA CROSSE.
Toward evening of the next day, when within hailing dis-
tance of La Crosse, Wis., the steamer sent forth her semi-buo-le
notes, announcing arrival. In ten minutes the news was
heralded through the city, that a company of hardy yeomen
from the Chippewa Valley was coming with a live American
Eagle. To the wharf rushed the crowds ; and just as the boat
landed, a salute from the 1st Wis. Battery, Capt. Foster, was
fired, followed by cheer after cheer from civilians and soldiers.
" The Eagle ! the Eagle ! hurrah for the Eagle ! " It was a
thrilling moment to the volunteers.
24 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
Child of the sun ! to thee 'tis given
To guard the banner of the free !
To hoyer in the sulphur smoke,
To ward away the battle stroke,
And bid its blendings shine afar,
Like rainbows in the cloud of war —
The harbinger of victory !
Is it too much to believe that birds are sometimes inspired ?
With reverence we cherish the story of a dove which Noah
" sent forth to see if the waters were abated from off the face
of the ground." The second time returning, " the dove came
in to him in the evening ; and lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf
plucked off ! " If through divine interposition, by the law of
correspondence, peace can be emblemized by means of a dove,
why not war by means of an eagle ? Is not the one as much a
bird of heaven as the other ? In the morning of a revolution,
what more fitting in the order of a presiding Providence, than
that our Messenger-Eagle from the pines of the free North, on
his advent into the Capital of his native state, should herald by
a sign the red battle of victory ? No patriot having faith in
the " Higher Law " will treat it with derision.
Arriving at Madison, on the 8th of Sept. 1881, Capt. Perkins
led his Company direct for Camp Randall, his musicians play-
ing " Yankee Doodle." The 7th Wis., and fractional parts of
the 8th, were already there awaiting accessions. Seeing the
" Eau Claire Badgers " and their Eagle coming, they all ran to
the gate of entrance, and opened right and left. During this
commotion, the majestic Bird sat quietly on his perch, properly
restrained; but just as the Company passed the gate, and de-
filed between these living rows of spectators, who then gave
an outburst of enthusiasm, with a dart of his piercing eye to the
flag floating close over him, he seized one end of it within his
beak, and spread his wings with a continuously flapping motion
expressive of inspirational ambition. It was a spontaneous
action of the Bird, untaught and unexpected, far more easily
explained as intentional then accidental. He seemed to under-
1 NAMING THE EAGLE. 25
stand his mission, and grandly did he illustrate it. Thus he
proudly held the flag during the time of crossing the grounds
to the front of Col. R. C. Murphy's Head-Quarters. The
Madison papers referred to this beautiful incident as a " favor-
A correspondent, belonging to this regiment, and an eye-wit-
ness of the scene, says :
" When the regiment marched into Camp Randall, the in-
stant the men began to cheer, he spread his wings, and taking
one of the small flags attached to his perch in his beak, he
remained in that position until borne to the quarters of the late
The excitement of the crowd knew no bounds. They shouted
again and again, till the very welkin trembled for joy. Deep
and strong was the conviction that the Eagle had a charmed
" Bird of Columbia ! well art thou
An emblem of our native land ;
With unblenched front and noble brow,
Among the nations doomed to stand ;
Proud, like her mighty mountain woods ;
Like her own rivers wandering free ;
And sending forth from hills and floods,
The joyous shout of Liberty."
NAMING THE EAGLE.
At Madison his visitors numbered thousands, and among them
were the highest dignitaries of civil and military life. Here,
too, he was donned with the soubriquet of " Old Abe" a title
given by Capt. Perkins in honor of Abraham Lincoln who so
grandly led our Republic through bloody seas, amid storms
and dangers innumerable, toward to the haven of peace. By
vote of the Company, the " Eau Claire Badgers " were called
the " Eau Claire Eagles," and by the voice of the people, the
Eighth Wisconsin was designated as the " Eagle Regiment."
26 HISTOKY OE THE LIVE EAGLE. '
THE NEW PERCH.
As the Eagle was now a national bird, Quartermaster Fran-
cis L. Billings, at the expense of the State, had a new perch
constructed, consisting of a shield in the shape of a heart, on
which was inscribed the Stars and Stripes, and, along the base,
" 8th Reg. W. V." Above this, raised a few inches, was a
cross-piece painted blue, on which the Eagle sat, and at each
end of it three arrows pointing outward. In the shuffle of war,
these have got broken off. The shaft was about five feet long.
This war-worn perch is still the property of the State, kept as
one> of the memorable relics of the war. What an object of
interest it will be at some far future day ! Let it be preserved.
Evidently, such a perch, with the Eagle on it, must have been
a heavy weight for one soldier to carry, during the long and
tiresome marches hi the enemy's country ; but the Bearer had
no other duty than to superintend him with kind attentions.
The " Eau Claire " was also the Regimental Color Company.
When in line, the Eagle was always on the left of the Color
PASSING THROUGH CHICAGO.
Crown ye the brave ! crown ye the brave !
They have heard with proud disdain,
That a tyrant seeks your beautiful land,
To bind in his iron chain ;
And now they come with hearts and arms,
To the land that will be free,
With their blood to give in the cause of those
Who fight for their liberty !
On the 12th of Oct. 1861, the Eagle Regiment left Camp
Randall for the theatre of war, and, after a continuous ovation
through the country, arrived in Chicago near the close of the
UE11 ALDUS' G FREEDOM; Itf ST. LOUIS. 27
day. It marched through the city in fine order, with banners
streaming, with martial music enchanting every measured step,
and with " Old Abe" in his place under the colors, receiving the
adorations of thronging multitudes that cheered tumultuously
during the whole transit from the North Western Depot to that
of the Illinois Central. It electrified the Chicago patriots.
Such a symbol of battla and conquest, in military order, never
before visited that metropolis.
A correspondent of the Eau Claire Free Press thus described
the march :
" Formed in platoons, Ave took our way through the city, our
Colonel and Governor Alex. Randall leading us on horseback.
Our progress was marked by many demonstrations of enthusi-
asm — the Regiment as a whole, and. our ' glorious bird ' carried
aloft at the head of our Company, appearing to divide about
equally the general attention and applause. I fancied the Eagle
seemed for once to be of more importance than the ' Eagles,'
and received cheers and flattering comment enough to spoil
any less sensible bird."
The Chicago Tribune, under date of Oct. 13, 1861, thus
alludes to the passage of the Regiment through the city :
" A noticeable feature among them was the Chippewa Eagles
— Captain Perkins' Company — a Company of the first-class
stalwart fellows. The Live Eagle which they brought with
them was an object of much curiosity. He is a majestic bird
and well trained. When marching, the Eagle is carried at the
head of the Company, elevated on a perch at the top of a pole.
The Eagle was caught on the head waters of the Chippewa
River by an Indian. Captain Perkins' Company takes it to
the war. The men were offered a large sum for it in Madison,
but they will not part with it. They swear it shall never be
taken by the enemy. No doubt, the Chippewa Eagles and
their pet bird, will be heard of again."
HERALDING FREEDOM IN ST. LOUIS.
And, with a front, like a warrior that speeds to the fray,
And a clapping of pinions he's up and away, —
Away, 0, away, soars the fearless and free !
Sweeping through the State of Illinois, where at nearly
every village and city, nothing but generosity and approbation
28 HISTOBY OP THE LIVE EAGLE.
greeted our merry volunteers, they at length reached St. Louis
on the morning of the 14th. Hearing that Union soldiers had
there been recently fired upon by rebel citizens, difficulties were
anticipated, but dauntlessly they moved on, for such they had
come to confront. What was their surprise, instead of rebels,
Unionists, with much excitement, showed signs of belligerency.
What did it mean ? Like the Confederates, our soldiers were
then dressed in gray, and were therefore taken to be a rebel
regiment. Though exceedingly hot, they were obliged to put
on their blue overcoats to satisfy the patriotic populace which
had been so outraged but a day or two before. It is reported,
that about twenty of the Boys were sun-struck on that occasion.
When the Regiment was preparing to enter one of the prin-
cipal streets, a promiscuous multitude huddled around, and?
seeing the Bird, cried out : a " crow," a " wild goose," a
" heron,' a " turkey buzzard ! " but " Old Abe," provoked at
these insults to his highness, resolved upon a demonstration
of defiance and of the freedom which he came to herald.
With an elastic spring, he rose with such an impetus as to
break the string that held him to his perch, and, sailing over
the crowd and along the street, flew up, up, majestically alight-
ing upon the chimney of one of the most aristocratic buildings
in the city. The Regiment was thrown into excitement, Com-
pany K C " particularly, every soldier of which was alarmed
lest the Bird would never return.
The flight heightened the curiosity of the spectators. Being
informed that it was none other than an American Eagle from
Northern Wisconsin, they were in ecstacies.
In the meantime, " Old Abe " sat on his new perch, leisurely
surveying the sea of heads, and the scenery abroad, with his
eye of deathless fire. After a half hour's liberty " alone in his
glory," careless of the efibrts to capture him, he scooped down
to an obscure sidewalk, where he was caught, and thence con-
veyed to his proper post in the Regiment.
This being the first band of warriors from the North- West
that had visited St. Louis — bringing too a live Eagle — with the
loyal people the reception was truly magnificent. " The little
darkies hurrahed for the Union, and one old ' Dinah,' in parti-
cular, will be long remembered, she laughed so heartily, showing
UNDER NEW COLORS. 29
her white teeth and ' big eyes,' and crying out at the top of her
voice, ' Go in, boys ! go in ! God bress ye ! '
A gentleman in St. Louis offered the Company five hundred
dollars for the Eagle, but it was no inducement whatever.
Somewhere in the South, an Illinois soldier offered a farm
worth five thousand dollars ; this, too, was declined. A na-
tional bird, it is above all price.
On arrival of the Regiment at Benton Barracks, the Boys
were favored with speeches from Secretary Cameron, and Gen.
Thomas, Adj. -Gen. U. S. A., who highly complimented their
general appearance, of which " Old Abe " had his usual share.
King or Queen, in the palmy days of ancient renown, never
received so signal adulations, as did our popular Bird. Soldiers
say, " His feathers are scattered all over the Union," and pre-
served as mementoes of valor. At one time, so great was the
demand for them, that he looked bare and deformed, when the
whole Company interposed, and vowed not another feather
should be taken out.
UNDER NEW COLORS.
After fighting rebels, here and there, guarding prisoners, and
scorning the country over a large extent of the Mississippi and
Ohio Valleys, every where hailed as the omen of victory, our
Eagle with his war-begrimed compatriots — a whole brigade —
occupied the rifle pits at Mount Pleasant, about eight miles
from New Madrid and Island No. 10, where they remained
several weeks, preventing rebel transportation of provisions, and
so starving out the enemy. Speaking of this splendid achievement
under Brig. Gen. J. B. Plummer, Maj. Gen. Pope said : " The
occupation and holding of Mount Pleasant Avas the key to the
capture of Island No. 10." On the 8th of April, 1862, the
Eagles assisted in the capture of 6,000 of the enemy, whilst
retreating from these strongholds.
For the gallantry displayed on this occasion, General Pope
ordered " New Madrid," and " Island No. 10," to be inscribed
30 HISTORY OP THE LIVE EAGLE.
on all the banners of the brigade, under one of which " Old
Abe " rode more dignified than ever, in the estimation of his
BATTLE OF FARMINGTON, MISS.
DEATH OP "OLD ABES PAVORITE CAPTAIN.
" Now for the fight — now for the cannon peal —
Forward through blood, and toil, and cloud, and fire !
Glorious the shout, the shocks, the crash of steel,
The volley's roll, the rockets' blasting spire ! "
With a view to test the strength of the enemy at Corinth, a
small army, consisting of the "Eagles," the 47th and 26th Illi-
nois, the 11th Missouri, and 2d Iowa Battery, on the 9th of
May, 1862, felt its way cautiously to the woods where lay the
ambushed crew, ready for their prey. The odds were great —
25,000 against one brigade ; but, great as it was, the " Eagles "
alone held them in check for over half an hour. Maj. J. W.
Jefferson held the outposts under three hours skirmishing, in a
most masterly manner. As the battle raged, our army found
it necessary to protect their baggage trains, at which the rebels
were aiming, and whilst retreating to that point, the Regiment
attempted to form again in an intervening swamp, but, appre-
hensive of being captured, Gen. Palmer ordered them to fall
back. They had felt the enemy, learned his position, and that
was all they desired at that engagement.
In the meanwhile, where was " Old Abe ? " Anxious for
his life, Capt. Perkins ordered the Bearer to keep well in the
rear of the Regiment, but within hailing distance of his Com-
pany. Here he beheld the carnival of death. As the hosts
of the enemy pressed on, nothing could stand before the
swathe of destruction, cutting down our devoted brothers. In-
stinctively they prostrated themselves upon the ground, in the
open field, behind a knoll, the leaden hail pouring over them.
BATTLE OF FARMINGTON. 31
Not being conspicuously exposed, the Bearer determined to
remain upright at his post, but the Eagle, seeing the men lying
there, stubbornly refused to be thus alone. Five or six times
he was picked up, and at last quite roughly put back with stern
orders to obey ; but all in vain — down he would get. Giving
him his own way, " Jim " threw the perch on the ground, and
crouched low with the rest. Elated at this, the Eagle crept
close to his master's side, snug to the ground, remaining there
until the bugle sounded, when he leaped to his perch with the
rising of the Regiment. The sagacious creature had no idea of
being a needless target for rebels. A volunteer, had he not
also the right of self-preservation ? A staff-officer of the Regi-
ment, writing about this beautiful incident, says :
"At the battle of Farmington, May 9th, 1862, the men were
ordered to lie down. The instant they did so, it was impos-
sible to keep him upon his perch. He insisted on being pro-
tected as well as they, and when liberated, flattened himself on
the ground, and there remained till the men arose ; when with
outspread wings he resumed his place of peril, and held it to
the close of the contest."
It was indeed an intelligent strategy, teaching the true art of
war — that prudence is better than rashness.
" There fell a moment's silence round, —
A breathless pause ! — the hush of hearts that beat,
And limbs that quiver !
Capt. Perkins raised himself partially up with one hand,
looking over the hill toward the enemy, and then turning to
his Company, spoke in a calm, confident voice — " Boys, keep
cool, and mind the work ! " and when the last word was
uttered, he fell mortally wounded, and was immediately carried
off the field, and in three days departed, " with his martial cloak
Could our Eagle speak, he would have pronounced a deserv-
ing eulogy over the tenantless form of his faithful, brave com-
mander. Some Divines — and may their tribe increase— tell us
that " birds go to heaven ; " if so, " Old Abe " will surely be
there in due time, recognizing with unbounded joy, his tall,
After this battle, the command of Company " C," by com-
mission, devolved upon the fearless Lieut. Victor Wolf.
32 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
THE SECOND EAGLE BEARER.
Following the battle before Corinth, on the 30th of May,
1862, there was a hurried order to pursue the enemy, who had
just evacuated the place. While the regiment was getting
ready, a convalescent soldier brought forward the eagle to the
front. James McGennis being sick, the question went round,
" Who shall carry the Eagle ?" Several eagerly exclaimed :
"I will!" "I will!" Captain Wolf assigned "the trust to
Thomas J. Hill of Eau Claire, remarking, "He is worthy of
it, for he is always ready for duty."
Shouldering his living musket, " Tom" marched on with an
agile step, and was unavoidably led through a clump of bushes,
where our Eagle initiated him into the mysteries of his new
duty. Getting entangled, he tore away from the perch exas-
perated, but was hustled up again with haste, when, wishing
to give his master a trial of his patience, he stuck his talons
into his face, mutilating it badly. The Bird being entitled to
forbearance under the circumstances, no court-martial was held.
On the way, Hill met some soldiers of the 47th Illinois fish-
ing in a creek. "Aha," they shouted, " there's the Eagle !
Give him a fish !* Knowing he could overtake his regiment
by a quickened pace, he sat down, content to wait while
his Bird enjoyed the feast. What were toil or wounds com-
pared with the pleasure of administering to the needs of
the Eagle ? Though simple the incident, it reveals the happy*
fact, that beneath a rough exterior was a generous spirit, an
affection which trial could burnish as gold in the fire " tried
CAMP CLEAR CREEK. 33
CAMP CLEAR CREEK.
Having scattered the enemy, the Eighth, with the rest of
the brigade, consisting of the 47th and 26th Illinois, the 11th
Missouri, the 5th Minnesota and the 2d Iowa Battery, went
into summer quarters near a stream of water called Clear
Creek. Here, for a long while, our Eagle was suffered to run
at large. Nearly every day he would have a gambol in the
water, diving and splashing, and shaking his pinions, often
arointr there, a distance of about half a mile, of his own ac-
cord, and when thoroughly washed, faithfully returning to the
Rations getting low, the Eagle had nothing to eat for two
days, which was an age of fasting for such a bird. " Why,
he will starve!" said Tom. Determined to obtain something
by " hook or crook," Mr. Hill started off for the barn of a
" secesh " farmer, but meeting the guard was refused a pass.
Despite his pleadings in behalf of the Eagle, the sentinel was
stubborn, declaring " that game Avas played out," conjecturing
that "Tom" was plotting to desert.
"Now what is to be done?" thought the faithful soldier.
Again he persuaded with all the eloquence his cause inspired,
assuring the grouty fellow that the Eagle would starve unless
he were permitted to go beyond the lines. The sentinel gave
a willful shake of the head.
" I will beat you yet," chuckled the persistent Bearer.
Straight he went to Col. Murphy, telling his story in a brief,
soldierly style, explaining the condition of the Eagle, and the
treatment of the picket-man. The generous Colonel ordered
a pass, and, putting a half dollar into his hand, remarked,
" Old Abe deserves a fat chicken." Well did " Old Abe "
acknowledge the services of his master with a most voracious
On another occasion, as Mr. Hill was carrying the Eagle to
the creek for .a bathing frolic, he met this same farmer upon
whose barn yard he had planned a foraging expedition, who
offered to give him a chicken if he would show him to his
34 HISTORY OP THE LIVE EAGLE.
"All right," replied the Bearer with a roguish wink to his
Bird as he beckoned him to his arms, saying, " Come, ' Old
Abe,' let's be going."
Arriving at the house, the farmer called out his children.
Among them appeared an intelligent young lady who seemed
very much pleased, stating that she " never expected to see
this celebrated Bird which the Confederate soldiers said was
carried by a Yankee Regiment. She put her hand on his
back and drew it cautiously down his plumage, absorbed in
thought, but soon snatched it back as if electrified. Ah, it
was a Union Eagle.
Having satisfied the curiosity of the young folks, Hill placed
" Old Abe " among the barn-yard fowls, which scattered with
instinctive dread; but he was too quick for them. With a
spring and a dash he pounced upon one, and in an instant tore
out the heart, devouring the flesh whilst palpitating with life.
This done he seized another. " What ! I didn't agree to that,"
said Secesh. " Tom " looked on with satisfaction, believing
his Eagle had just that right.
" Old Abe " would never eat anything tainted or decayed.
He liked a dish fresh, and was best pleased if allowed to kill
his own game. When his prey was fairly in his power, he
would often strut around it, like a gobbler, with an ah* of
vengeful pride, and hover his wings with a rustling sound, lit-
erally hiding it, and screeching with wild delight.
A correspondent from the war thus writes :
" 'Old Abe' is an intelligent bird, and understands himself.
When at liberty to go where he pleases, the Sutler's tent is
his favorite resort. If any live chickens are to be found, he is
sure to pounce on one, seizing it with one claw, and hobbling
off on the other, with the aid of his wings."
G. W. Driggs, a soldier of the Eighth, is the author of a
valuable work entitled " The Opening of the Mississippi," and
has furnished some interesting facts respecting the Eagle, of
which the following is the summary :
" Pie is very rapacious, eyeing greedily birds in their flight,
or domestic fowls in pursuit of rations beyond his reach. If
it were not for his attachment to this mundane sphere, he
would excel the best of us in 'jayhawking.' He is also very
discreet, judicious, and somewhat dainty in the selection of
his food, preferring all small animals alive, such as squirrels,
CAMP CLEAR CREEK. 35
chickens, birds and rabbits, thus discarding all modern inven-
tions of cooking.
" His life and history thus far have been most exciting, and
passed amid most stirring scenes. He has filled the place as-
signed him in the regiment with credit and honor, as a living
personification of our national emblem, gaining for us the ap-
pellation of the Eagle Regiment, and exciting universal admi-
ration on our marches, from the inhabitants, who are loth to
respect anything from ' Yankee Land.' Various are the names
applied to him by strangers — ' Owl !' and 'Yankee Buzzard!'
being very common.
" On our advent into Oxford, Miss., last year, a young lady
of decidedly Southern origin, rushed from a stately mansion
by the wayside, with arms extended and hair streaming, ex-
claiming in scornful and sarcastic tones, ' O, see that Yankee
Buzzard /' which was responded to from the ranks in such
unmistakable language, that she made for the house on a
" With all due respect to the home advantages of the Bird,
it is fair to state that he has seen as much of this world of ours
as he would if left in his own native condition, having spread
his wings over seven of the now rebel States, though in closer
proximity to terra firma than would seem natural. May his
life be spared through the trying scenes yet to come, and his
wings be spread over all the rebellious States, and at the close
of this unnatural war, may he be returned to his native home,
there to live in State, surrounded by everything to make his
It is no uncommon thing for soldiers to take pet animals
and birds with them to war. It is said a Minnesota regiment
carried through the campaign of Gen. McClellan on the Penin-
sula, a young half-grown bear, which smelt powder in a dozen
engagements, and was sent home in good condition, and that
a rebel Arkansas regiment went into the fight at Shiloh with
a live wild cat, which was captured by the Federals, and af-
terwards killed by accident ; also that the 49th Illinois took to
the war two game-cocks of the first class breed. Other regi-
ments in the same brigade had these fighting creatures for
betting and amusement. It was a very common thing in the
Crimean war for the Russian soldiers to carry cats with them
in all their marches and battles. They were often found dead
on the battle-field. The cats in a journey would hang with
their claws to the knapsacks of the soldiers.
The Chicago Post says of " Old Abe ":
" This bird, which it is custom to denominate king of its
36 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
kind, is without doubt of all pets in the Union regiments, the
most eminently appropriate, as in its actual bodily presence,
it represents the sublimatic figure on our national escutcheon.
* * This classic biped is a hearty feeder,
and can worry down a rabbit in an amazingly brief period.
He is passionately fond of young chickens, which has, no
doubt, caused a demoralizing tendency on the part of the 8th
Wisconsin boys towards hen-roosts to gratify the appetite of
" In appearance, Abraham is a grave looking bird, of a wise
and dignified aspect, whom to look at no one would suspect of
the rapacious character attributed to the most maiestic of all
«• OLD ABE'S " BELLIGERENT JUSTICE.
Ay, Justice, who evades her ?
Her scales reach every heart ;
The action and the motive,
She weigheth each a part ;
And none who swerve from right or truth
Can 'scape her penalty.
If the phrenologist wants a practical case of well-developed
keen-edged justice, let him feel of " Old Abe's" bumps, if he
can get near enough. He will certainly find him adapted to
war-like life — no coward, but a brave patriot, jealous of his
rights, and fearless to maintain them. " Old Abe " is a swift
witness against Benjamin Franklin, who, in Congress, objected
to the Bald Eagle being our national standard. His qualities
nobly illustrate American ambition, when provoked to moral
indignation. He is a Mosaic Bird purely. "His idea ol
courtesy," says J. H. McFarland, State Armorer at Madison,
"is founded on the Indian's notion of forgiving injuries. For
example, a short time since, he seized the cap of a lad who had
been teasing him and tore it into shreds. He manifests a dis-
position to live peaceably with all animals except dogs and
Copperheads^ which are his special abhorrence."
"'OLD ABE 1 ' AND TDK PET DOG. 3*7
A similar incident occurred at Messenger's Ford, on Black
River. The 93d Illinois, stationed near there, came one day
to see the Eagle, when a soldier approached with familiar
loquacity, as if overjoyed at the sight. After considerable
importuning from the boys, he consented to throw up his cap
to the reserved winged patriot, there in a tree, who said in his
eyes, " No trifling with an Eagle !" Catching it in his talons,
he disdainfully trampled it under his feet, and with his beak
literally destroyed it. The Eighth and the visitors enjoyed
the fun, while the Illinoisan was obliged to go bare-headed
"OLD ABE" AND THE PET DOG.
Reason in itself confounded
Saw division grow together ;
To themselves yet either — neither,
Simple were so well compounded.
The regiment had a dog " Frank." He is thus described :
" He is a pretty white and brown pointer and setter, which
came to us at Camp Randall, Madison, Wis., two years ago,
and has followed the fortunes of the regiment ever since, pur-
suing his peaceful avocation of hunting birds and rabbits, and
having a wide field to labor in. He has accompanied us on all
our marches, railroad and steamboat travels, attaching himself
to no individual in particular, but to a company for a time.
He seems to prefer the old school-teaching system of ■ board-
ing round,' and has so endeared himself to each member of the
regiment that to abuse him, is to abuse the soldier whom he
accompanies. However large an army we may be placed in,
he readily distinguishes any member of his regiment — not by
name, but by scent, and cannot be induced or persuaded to
follow any other. He possesses a peaceful and quiet disposi-
tion, and will take the grossest insult from a large animal
38 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
without retaliation, unless there are sufficient number of boys
present to back him, when he will show fight, and succeed in
vanquishing his antagonist. On several occasions he has fol-
lowed us unconsciously to the battle field. The leaden missiles
possessing no charms for him, he suddenly makes Ms exit —
'narrative' drooping — and lives in retirement and seclusion
for several weeks afterwards."
In the absence of more agreeable society, the soldiers were
real " Selkirks," whiling away the monotonous hours in teach-
ing these creatures various cunning tricks, thus bringing them
often together, which in time produced a mutual attachment
between them. In fact they were married — the Eagle and
Dog, and quite happily ; void of all " green-eyed jealousy," did
they live in their odd association, sharing alike the fond pat-
ronage of their many friends. But a divorce at length actually
took place in a luckless moment, just like any other marital
pairs in fits of rage.
When at Cairo, III, "Old Abe" got out of patience witli
his numerous guests. All day there had been a constant draft
upon his time and attention; but this he could have endured,
had no one tormented him with sticks and mockings. Impul-
sively he felt that forbearance too long suffered was no eagle
virtue, and giving vent to his terrible anger, he bit, and tore,
and yelled, but could not get near enough to his tormentors to
wreak his revenge upon them. Unfortunately, at this moment,
"Frank" came within the circle of his string, and, quick as
lightning, he pounced upon him, sticking his talons through
his hide, and furiously tearing him with his beak. Such a pow-
wow was never before heard in a military camp. Ever after
that, the dog kept at a respectful distance from the Eagle,
which alienation did not in the least disturb his lordship — in-
deed not a whimper of repentance did he show to his canine
mate, evidently believing they were "unequally yoked to-
EACE WITH THE DARKIE. 39
RACE WITH THE DARKIE.
An' 'eerd um a bummin' awaay loike a buzzard clock ower my yead,
An' I niver knaw'd whot a mean'd, but I thowt a'ad summut to saay,
An' I thowt a said what a owt to 'a said an I coined awaay.
" Old Abe's " sense of honor was as keen as his temper.
"Fair play" with him was a principle. When engaged in
matters of self-interest, he the same as said in his manner,
" No admission except on business of war." He had his " sa-
cred hours," when all interference was by him sternly forbidden.
Just before a storm, for instance, he WcS unusually lively, and
then he would give that startling screech, and jump up and
down, and whistle most lustily, as if talking with the storm-
gods. These were his devotions, and any approaches were
considered profanations deserving retribution. But when it
was proper to entertain guests, he was ready for sport, pro-
vided the manner was respectful and kind, which courtesy he
handsomely reciprocated. He unmistakably demonstrated that
an Eagle's rights are as special as a Yankee's, and, when
necessary must be maintained by the force of — talons. This
justly defiant spirit suited the " boys," serving as a constant
example of belligerency against all rebels and indecent folks
A negro at Camp Clear Creek addressed him once in rough
style, and plagued him without regard to his rules of etiquette.
Being loose at the time, in a moment he was after him, his
eyes darting fire, his claws protruding, his rapacious mouth
wide open, his feathers sticking up straight in frightful aspect.
The poor negro started off with desperate speed, amid the
jeers of witnessing soldiers, whose laughter knew no bounds.
Hotter and hotter grew the race, the negro gaining the advan-
tage only by turning short corners. " Hurrah, Nig, he's got
you now ! — he'll eat you up !" shouted the provoking crew.
Looking back with a side glance, he saw that awful beak close
to his head, when, dodging downwards, the infuriated Bird
just grazed his wool. Thus the darkie was taught the lesson,
40 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
that the freedom which the American Eagle secures for him,
is not license, but privileged justice to be illustrated in respect
for native worth, as well as to native right.
"OLD ABE" AND THE GUINEA HEN.
At LaGrange, Tenn., no meat could be procured for our
Eagle. Capt. Wolf made several unsuccessful attempts to
buy a chicken of a semi-Unionist. Getting spunky over it, he
took the Bearer with him one day to the gentleman's house,
and sent in word by a porter, stating again that he wanted to
buy a chicken. The 9 same provoking denial was given.
Learning that the Captain had the Eagle there, and that he
had threatened to let " Old Abe " select one, he came out, and
to compromise the matter, offered a Guinea hen, provided the
Eagle could kill her in a pitched battle. About this time a
large crowd had gathered, among them several of the regi-
Eyeing each other a moment with measuring glance, the
Eagle sprang to the attack, when the hen uttered her peculiar
squall — a sound altogether new to his quick ear — which so
startled him that he paused for further examination of his
wished-for prey. Improving this " cessation of hostilities,"
she scud off to the opposite corner, " facing the music." En-
raged at such proceedure, the Eagle made another clash,
followed by the same unearthly squall, and this by another
sudden pause. There was no possibility of outflanking the
hen, neither did she dare to meet him in " mortal combat ;" so
round and round they flew, acting and re-acting, amid roars of
laughter, till at last Madame Guinea skedaddled into a chink
under a building, where Monsieur Eagle could not penetrate.
If a horse comes within reach, Mr. Eagle is sure to exhibit
his superiority over the quadrupedal creature by hopping on
to the nag, and inserting his talons in no very " complimentary
FLIGHTS OF "OLD ABE." 41
FLIGHTS OF "OLD ABE."
What ranger of the winds can dare,
Proud mountain king! with thee compare
Or lift his gaudier plumes on high
Before thy native majesty,
When thou hast taken thy seat alone,
Upon thy cloud-encircled throne ?
Many a soldier has caught his inspiration from the Eagle.
Many a desponding heart has he enlivened and nerved to
daring. As if knowing the laws of regimental hygiene, he
would apply them whenever he deemed it necessary to dispel
a camp gloom, to stir the stagnant blood, and win for himself,
under perplexing pursuit, a stronger affection.
It was altogether unnatural to he tied and confined to a
circle ; freedom was his element of life, and many a time did
he obtain it long enough to satisfy his soaring genius.
At Germantown, Tenn., as the regiment was preparing for
the journey to the seige of Vicksburg, Col. Bryant of the 12th
Wisconsin, came into camp to pay his respects to old friends.
Having made a brief speech, the boys cheered him, when
" Old Abe," as usual, joining in the " tiger," and wishing to
let them know he was there also, flew up with such force that
the string broke, and, keeping on the impetuous wing, soared
into the sky in gay circuits, inviting a general hunt from his
favorite company. He finally alighted in a distant tree-top,
when he was re-captured by a daring soldier.
At Saulsbury, Miss., he severed his string again, and leaped
with a graceful curve down upon an old church, from which
he was scared away into a tree, the boys after him at gleeful
speed. Philip Burk, it is said, climbed after him, and reach-
ing the limb whereon he tauntingly sat, took him into his
custody, and being unable to descend with him under his arm,
threw him to the ground, thinking he would behave himself,
when our Eagle, adjudging it to be foul usage, spread wing
again, and, after a grand sailing in the sky, alighted in a dis-
42 HISTOEY OP THE LIVE EAGLE.
tant cotton-field, where his master at length secured him by
At Cold Water, Miss., after the regiment had stacked arms,
leisurely resting in various attitudes, " Old Abe " thinking it
about time for another frolic, took to the Avoods, drawing after
him a large portion of the brigade, running in various direc-
tions, and excited of course, just as the Bird intended them to
be. A soldier ascended the tree into which he had flown and
threw him to the ground, when up he went into another tree.
This time the soldiers tried to bring him down by throwing
clubs and sticks at him. As was his custom in play, he caught
these in his claws as fast as they hit him. One of these sticks
went directly at his head, which, had he not caught it in his
beak, would have injured him ; as it was, it caused his mouth
to bleed quite profusely. Finding that method useless, they
procured a live chicken, tied it with a long string to the tree,
and thus tempted him to obedience. It is to be hoped that
they will not forget the moral of this incident.
" OLD ABE'S " PATRIOTISM.
In his eye
The inextinguishable spark, which fires
The soul of patriots ; while his brow supports
Undaunted valor, and contempt of death.
The characteristics of the Eagle endeared him not only to
the soldiers of Company C, but to the whole regiment, brigade
and corps. Hearty, warlike, strategetical, playful, affectionate
to his tested friends, they loved him as they did their own
Jives, and would fight for him any day, even at the point of
the bayonet. Says a writer :
•'When a distinguished officer comes along and addresses
the troops, the Eagle joins with the soldiers in their cheers.
His method of cheering is to spread his pinions to their utmost
"oldabeV patriotism. 43
extent, and then jump up and down on his perch. This mode
of applause adopted by the Eagle is very inspiring to the
The State Armorer, in speaking of his patriotism, says :
"The sight of a 'blue-coat' or the Star Spangled Banner
never fails to excite his joy, which he manifests in a very dig-
nified manner. He is extremely fond of martial music — ad-
mires 'Yankee Doodle,' 'Old John Brown,' and the roar of
Soldiers declare that whenever Generals Grant,, Rosecrans,
Sherman, Stanley and others, passed " Old Abe," they would
doff their hats , and that when the regiment was at Memphis,
where General Mower was in command at one time, he would
frequently send for our Bird for the gratification not only of
himself but other officers, showing how much he was prized by
the army generally, and how cordially he was hailed as the
patriotic symbol of their holy crusade. Citizens of Memphis
often gave the Bearer money to purchase meat for his Eagle.
They respected the emblem ; he inspired love for the Union of
Washington, even in the hearts of secessionists.
Just after President Lincoln issued his memorable Emanci-
pation Proclamation, ordering the enlistment of negroes, the
"Eagles," with other regiments, were in Mississippi, and
there General Thomas, Adjutant General U. S. A., made a
brief speech to the army, in which he spoke of deserving pri-
vates, recommending that such present themselves as candi-
dates foi - * officers in colored regiments and companies. As his
eye glanced over the serried ranks, he caught a view of " Old
Abe," whom he had not seen since the greeting in St. Louis
about two years before. Inspired by the thought that the
Eagle was then the emblem of universal liberty, he remarked
that at first he supposed all present were strangers to him,
" but I see one familiar personage at least," he added, " that
majestic Bird of the Eighth Wisconsin — the emblem of
American freedom /"
44 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
THE EAGLE OF FREEDOM.
"0, land of our glory, our boast and our pride !
Where the brave and the fearless for freedom have died,
How clear is the lustre that beams from thy name !
How bright on thy brow are the laurels of fame!
The stars of thy Union still burn in the sky,
And the scream of thine Eagle is heard from on high!
His eyrie is built where no foe can invade,
Nor traitors prevail with the brand and the blade !
Chorus — The Eagle of Freedom in danger and night,
Keeps watch o'er our flag from his star-circled height.
From mountain and valley, from hill-top and sea,
Three cheers for the Eagle, the Bird of the Free !
Hurrah ! Hurrah !
Hurrah for the Eagle., the Bird of the Free !
Mount up, thou Eagle ! and rend in thy flight
The war-cloud that hides our broad banner from sight!
Guard, guard it from danger, though war-rent and worn,
And see that no star from its azure is torn !
Keep thy breast to the storm, and thine eye od the sun,
Till, true to our motto, The Many are one !
Till the red rage of war with its tumult shall cease,
And the dove shall return with the olive of peace.
Chorus — The Eagle of Freedom, in danger and night,
Keeps watch o'er our flag from his star-lighted height,
From mountain and valley, from hill-side and sea,
Three cheers for the Eagle, the Bird of the Free !
Hurrah ! Hurrah !
Hurrah for the Eagle, the Bird of the Free !
0, sons of the mighty, the true and the brave,
The souls of your heroes rest not in their grave ;
The holy libation to Liberty poured
Hath streamed, not in vain, from the blood-crimsoned sword.
Henceforth with your Star Spangled Banner unfurled,
Your might shall be felt to the ends of the world
And rising Republics, like nebulte gleam,
Wherever the stars of your nation shall beam.
Chorus — The Eagle of Freedom, sublime in his flight,
Shall rest on your banner, encircled with light ;
And then shall the chorus, in unison be,
Three cheers for the Eagle, the Bird of the Free !
Hurrah ! Hurrah !
Hurrah for the Eagle, the Bird of the Free !"
THE EAGLE IN BATTLE. 45
THE EAGLE lN BATTLE.
What heroes from the woodland sprung,
When, through the fresh awakened land,
The thrilling cry of Freedom rung !
The soldiers say, the Eagle in battle was the grandest sight
ever witnessed. At the sound of the bugle, however engaged
he might be, he would start suddenly, dart up his head, and
then bend it gracefully, anticipating the coming shock ; and,
when conscious of its reality, his eyes would flash with un-
common luster. Then with a silent, excited animation, he
would survey the moving squadrons, and, as they rushed into
line, his breast would tremble like the human heart, intensified
to warring action between hope and fear — an undaunted sus-
pense — a blending of caution and courage — a precipitancy of
will, inspiring and sublime. Click would go a thousand locks,
and he would turn again, curving that majestic neck, scrutin-
izing the ranks, and dipping his brow forward to await the
crash ; and when it came, rolling fiery thunder over the plain,
he would spring up and spread his pinions, uttering his start-
ling scream, heard, felt and gloried in by the desperate soldiers.
As the smoke enveloped him, he would appear to be bewil-
dered for a moment, but when it opened again, folding up
from the soldiers like a curtain, he would look down intently,
as if inquiring, " How goes the battle, boys ? What of that
last charge ?"
A correspondent, witnessing his appearance in battle, justly
" When the regiment is engaged in battle, c Old Abe ' man-
ifests delight. At such a time he will always be found in his
appropriate place at the head of Company C. To be seen in
all his glory, he should be seen when the regiment is enveloped
in the smoke of battle. Then the Eagle with spread pinions
jumps up and down on his perch, uttering such wild, fearful
screams as an eagle alone can utter. The fiercer and louder
the storm of battle, the fiercer, wilder, and louder the screams.
"What a grand history he will have — what a grand Eagle
he will be a hundred years hence ! Pilgrims will come from
46 HISTORY OV THJS LIVE EAGLE.
all parts of the world to see the Eagle that was borne through
this our second war for Independence."
In a cordial letter to the author, answering inquiries respect-
ing the Eagle, Col. J* W. Jefferson, who led the valiant Eighth
in the Red River expedition, thus happily describes the Eagle
on parade and in battle :
" ' Old Abe ' was with the command in nearly every action,
(about twenty-two) and in thirty skirmishes,, He enjoyed the
excitement ; and I am convinced from his peculiar manner,
was well informed in regard to army movements — dress pa-
rade, and preparations for the march and battle. Upon parade
— after he had been a year in the service — he always gave
heed to ' attention /' With his head obliquely to the front, his
right eye directly turned upon the parade commander, he
would listen and obey orders, noting time accurately. After
parade had been dismissed, and the ranks were being closed
by the sergeants, he would lay aside his soldierly manner, flap
his wings, and make himself generally at home.
" When there was an order to form for battle, he and the
colors were the first upon the line. His actions upon those oc-
casions were uneasy, turning his head anxiously from right to
left, looking to see when the line was completed. Soon as the
regiment got ready, faced, and put in march, he would assume
a steady and quiet demeanor. In battle he was almost con-
tinually flapping his wings, having his mouth wide open, and
many a time would scream with wild enthusiasm. This was
particularly so at the hard fought battle of Corinth, when our
regiment repulsed and charged, or, you might say, made a
counter-charge, on Price's famous Missouri brigade."
A correspondent of the Washington Chronicle says of our
battling Eagle :
" As the engagement waxed hot — as the roar of the heavy
guns shook the earth, and the rattle of small arms pierced the
dim and sulphurous clouds that hung about the line of battle —
the Eagle would flap his wings and mingle his voice with the
tumult in the fiercest and wildest of his screams."
With this grand living emblem of victory ever before them,
it is no wonder that the soldiers of the Eighth regiment were
The salutary effect of the sight of the Eagle in battle, upon
a rebel soldier, is thus described by a patriotic gentleman,
signing himself Lieut. Lansing, in a letter dated at Aurora,
111., June 8, 1864, addressed to the New York Ledger. It
seems " Old Abe " possesses great psychological powers upon
the rebels to induce, repentance :
" The only time I ever saw the Eagle was at the rear of Vicksburg, just
before it was carried on the field at Champion's Hills, during which en-
gagement he was seen by thousands of soldiers, both Federal and rebel.
There are many stories circulating among the soldiers relative to the
sensations and sad, regretful longings for loyalty and peace excited in the
rebel soldier's heart on beholding the American Eagle hovering over its
avenging army. To listen to them as told by the private soldier, while
sitting by his camp-fire, they are intensely interesting to the loyal mind,
and I wish I had the power to reproduce them with equal effect ; but my
pen must, acknowledge its weakness. There is one incident, however, that
came under my own observation. A large wooden building in the rear of
the field at " Big Black Bridge " was filled with rebel wounded, and after
our own soldiers' wounds were dressed I was sent thither for duty; While
extracting a ball from a rebel's leg, I was much surprised to find it round
and a buck-shot imbedded in the flesh with it, an indication of having
come from rebel guns. It had entered at the back part of the thigh and
made its appearance just beneath the skin on the fore-side. As I cut on
it and learned its nature, I inquired of the man how he received it — for I
was impressed with the belief that it was not discharged from a Yankee gun.'
"Well, sir," said he, " I have always been a great lover of French and
American history in which the eagle figures so extensively as an emblem
of freedom, and when I saw a live eagle floating and fluttering over your
soldiers yesterday, just in front of my regiment, all my old love of Ameri-
can freedom and loyalty returned ; and shortly after, when we were
obliged to run, I believed our cause was unjust, and so haunted was I
with thoughts of disloyalty, and being an enemy to, and fighting against
that eagle, that I determined to desert the rebel cause and come to his
protection ! The first opportunity I saw was this morning, when I made a
rush for your lines, and was fired on by one of our men."
THIRD EAGLE BEAREE.
Strike for that broad and goodly land,
Blow after blow, till men shall see,
That Might and Eight move hand in hand,
And glorious must their triumph be.
Having been appointed wo a higher position, Mr. Hill re-
signed his Eagle Office on the 4th of August 1862, when it was
given to David McLane of Menomonie, Wis., who manfully
bore the soldier bird through the awful battle of luka — one of
48 HISTORY OP THE LIVE EAGLE.
the most desperate of the war — where he and his charge
escaped untouched, although exposed, in the reserve, to a most
galling fire. This was another victory, for the night following,
while the Union Braves slept on the field of battle, the enemy-
retreated, and, being pursued the next day by artillery, was
scattered in wild confusion — the just reward of General Price.
" Rest thee ! there is no prouder grave,
Even in thy own proud clime."
On the day of the Iuka victory, Sept. 19, 1862, at Jackson,
Tenn., expired James McGennis, the first Eagle-Bearer, whose
name is truly worthy a place in the hearts of his countrymen.
He carried the glorious Bird through the battles of Frederick-
town, Missouri — New Madrid — Island No. 10 — and Farm-
For never, upon gory battle ground,
With conquest's well-bought wreath,
Were braver victors crowned.
The 3d and 4th of October 1862 are memorable in the
history of the " Mississippi Campaign." Never were interests
more perilous ; never did men fight more bravely on both sides,
but the result was the triumph of Jie dear old Union The
deeds of those veterans, of those sainted martyrs, are engraved
on the life-pages of the national heart* Nobly did the Eagles
perform their duty led by the gallant Col. G. W. Robbins.
Capt. Wolf states that just as the Regiment entered a ravine
overlooked by a hill where the rebels were pouring upon them
the bolts of death, a Minie-ball severed the string which held
the Bird to his perch, when he was seen circling in the sulphur-
ous smoke in front of the enemy. Soon after he alighted a
few rods distant from the Bearer who immediately caught him
and carried him from the field to the camp It is believed the
enemy must certainly have discerned the Eagle, judging by
the special fire aimed at that Regiment.
A Staff-Officer of the Regiment, who was not only a witness
but an actor, says :
" At the battle of Corinth, the Rebel Gen. Price having dis-
covered him, ordered his men to be sure and take him ; if this
they could not do, to kill him, adding that he had rather get
that Bird than the whole brigade."
Col. Jefferson writes : " One of General Price's men, who
was captured by us, told me Price said to his men that he
would rather have them capture the Eagle of the 8th Wis.
than a ' dozen battle-flags] and that if they succeeded, he
would give the lucky (or unlucky) Confederate ' Free Pillage
in Corinth!" The valiant rebels did not succeed however,
but instead many of them were captured."
The following letter from David McLane, received after the
manuscript of this history was nearly prepared for the press,
corroborates the corresponding statements herein made. It is
prized the more because it comes from the pen of an intelligent
soldier of correct observation, and one who bore the Eagle
through two of the great battles of the Mississippi Valley:
Camp near Vicksburg, Miss., Feb. 18, 18G5.
J. 0. Barret, Esq. :
Dear Sir, — I received your letter yesterday requesting me to furnish
you some items about the Eagle of the 8th Wis., which I do with pleasure.
I had the honor of bearing the Eagle from the 18th of August 1862 to
sometime in October, soon after the battle of Corinth, when, at my solici-
tation, the Bird was assigned to Edward Homaston. I bore him out into
Alabama, and back to Mississippi, in a skirmish at Iuka on the 13th of
December, and through the terrible battles of Iuka and Corinth.
At the commencement of the battle of Corinth on the 3d of October, he
got frightened, broke his string, or it was cut by aMinie-ball, and fluttered
off, but did not go far before I caught him again. The Rebel Gen. Price
saw him there, and ordered his men either to capture, or kill him, at all
hazards, stating that he had heard of that Bird before, and would rather
capture him than the whole brigade. I had this statement from rebel
prisoners, and believe it to be true.
The Eagle seems to have a dread, like all old soldiers, of heavy mus-
ketry, but is in all his glory when the roar of artillery commences. I
have had him up to the batteries when they were firing into the rebel
ranks fast as they could load, and then he would scream, spread his wings
at every discharge, and revel in the smoke and roar of the big guns.
The first fight he was in was the battle of Farmington, Miss., where he
showed a great deal of sagacity. When we were ordered to lie down on
the ground, under a dreadful artillery-fire from the enemy's batteries, he
flew off his perch, getting as low as he could, and lay there until he saw
the Regiment rise to advance, when he flew upon his perch again, and
remained there through the engagement.
Sometimes he was very troublesome to carry on a march ; he would get
50 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
tired of sitting on his perch, and try to fly off to his freedom. He was
fond of bathing — would wash himself an hour at a time.
He has his particular friends and his enemies. There were men in our
Company whom he would not let come near him ; on them he would fly,
and tear them with his talons and beak in a way not very pleasant ; but
he would never fight his Bearer. He knew his own Regiment from any
other, and would always unfurl his pinions and scream when the Boys
cheered, but would not notice the cheering of any other Regiment.
He had a great many visitors. When he was down here, the inhabitants
of Dixie came from far and near to see the "Yankee Buzzard," as they
facetiously called him.
He was truly the "pet" of the Regiment; indeed the whole Brigade
was proud of him. With the Regiment he was complimented very highly
by our ablest Generals ; Grant, Sherman, and McPherson spoke in the
highest praise of him and his Regiment at Corinth, Miss.
CROPPING THE EAGLE.
Soon after the battle of Corinth, as a means to prevent the
Eagle from flying away, some one in the Company — not the
Bearer by any means — cropped one wing and his tail. The
philosophy of the argument was, ' that one wing balances the
other ; ' if, therefore, one be cropped, the Bird in trying to fly,
would turn over, and so fall to the ground ! The noble Eagle
no longer looked like himself, and much did it mortify the
" Boys " generally, and nearly all the regimental officers.
A soldier states that McLane, disgusted with the treatment
of his Bird, threw up his Eagle- Commission, and, by his own
request, as a right and favor, was restored to a more humble
place in the ranks, with a musket in his hand instead of a
perch, when Edward Homaston of Eau Claire, had the honor
of the appointment He bore him through toilsome marches,
perils, and battles, and the awful Siege of Vicksburg, giving
up his commission about the middle of September 1863, when
lit. Butler, being then in command, placed " Old Abe " in the
STORMING OF VICKSBUEG. 51
hands of John Buckhardt, a German of Eau Claire,— who bore
him, excepting for a few days at the close, during the
remainder of his military career.
STORMING OF VICKSEURG.
Oli, it was grand !
Like the tempest we charged, in the triumph to share ;
The tempest — its fi'ry and thunder were there ;
On, on, o'er intreuchments, o'er living and dead,
With the foe under foot and our flag overhead :
Oh, it was grand !
Oh, that last charge !
Where did not the " Eagles " go in the Mississippi Valley ?
They will never be forgotten by the Dixie folks. At one time
— the 14th of May 1863 — they dashed into Jackson, the Capitol
of Mississippi, under Gen. Sherman, and, with the rest of the
brigade, took the city, rushed to the Capitol, tore from its
heights the rebel flag, hoisted the right one, and made the
building head-quarters till they got ready for another success-
Next we find them before Vicksburg, occupying an im-
portant position in that invincible army of Unionists.
On the 22d of May, 1863, General Grant ordered a grand
charge on the enemy's works ; " Our troops, with McClernand's
corps on the left, McPherson's in the center, and Sherman's
on the right, marched forth to face the storm of iron hail that
came like a whirlwind showering into our ranks. Our forces
moved steadily onward, to meet the rebels, who were now at
work in earnest, dealing their missiles with ten-fold fury into
our solid columns. It was a time that tried men's souls ; and
while many wavered and trembled with fear, those who ad-
vanced with a cool and steady tread onward to meet death,
which seemed to stare them in the face, should receive the
thanks of a generous people. The second brigade rushed for-
52 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
ward into the lion's angry mouth, with a yell and a bound, at
double-quick, with fixed bayonets. They charged furiously up
to the very brink of the ditch, which was already heaped with
the bodies of the dead and the dying, who lay gasping in the
last agonies of torture. Our flag was planted on the ramparts,
but it was impossible to scale the works at this point, and
amid the leaden hail we fell back ii good order to our original
" Old Abe " was in this storming party, carried by Mr.
Homaston, under the war-riven colors, which were borne for a
long time, as well as then, by Serg. Myron Briggs.
" Our colors were riddled by the enemy's fire. Our Eagle
flapped his wings lustily, went into the fight with an eagerness
characteristic of his past heroism, and came out without losing
a feather from his pinions."
" Lost a piece of a feather," say the Boys, " out of his right
wing." In another engagement, " Old Abe " was hit in the
tail feathers, cutting off a few, but doing no injury.
THE RED RIVEREXPEDITION.
Though entitled to go home on furlough, yet cheerfully our
Eagle obeyed the order to participate in the Red River expe-
dition, being in Gen. A. J. Smith's Division. During this
long and trying campaign of seventy-five days, " Old Abe "
was at his post — a tie of affection ever reminding the weary
soldiers of their far distant homes in Wisconsin, for whose
good they were suffering, with a fortitude equal to that dis-
played by the soldiers of Gen. Washington in the darkest days
of the Revolution.
Col. Jefferson had command of the "Eagles," winning lau-
rels for himself and them during an almost continuous battle
of twenty-seven days — the most arduous and fatiguing of the
war. In his report to Gov. Lewis, he says :
" Half the time my men have been on short rations, and no
THE BED KIVER EXPEDITION. 53
opportunity of getting clothing for them in the past three
months. My noble soldiers are barefooted and in rags, never-
theless the health and efficiency of the men were never better.
The campaign is a failure, but in every instance that our army
(Smith's) has had occasion to fight the enemy, we have whipped
him and driven him in disorder. The regiment has been first
to the front and last to leave it."
" Old Abe " was in all this disastrous undertaking, retreat-
ing sometimes, and then again rushing to the fray, but he never
lost a battle! On the 6th of June, 1864, was fought the hotly
contested battle of Lake Chicot, Ark., just after the Red River
expedition. This was the last battle in which " Old Abe "
participated, and, as ever before, majestically did he maintain
his post of duty.
The following is the order of the principal battles in which
the Eighth Wisconsin was engaged during " Old Abe's " ad-
ministration, in nearly every one of which he was a witness
and proud actor :
Fredericktown, Mo., Oct. 21, 1861.
New Madrid and Island No. 10, April, 1862.
Farmington, Mississippi, May 9, 1862.
Siege of Corinth, do May, 1862.
Iuka, do Sept. 13, 16, 19, 1862.
Corinth, do Oct. 3 and 4, 18C2.
Jackson, do May 14, 1863.
Assault on Vicksburg, Miss., July 4, 1863.
Fort de Russy,
Eight Day Skirmish near
Bayou de Glaize,
Lake Chicot, Ark., June 6, 1864.
It is remarkable that not a Color Bearer or Eagle Bearer
of this regiment was shot down. The two were side by
Red River expedition, Louisi-
ana, April and May, 1864.
54 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
side, one with the Flag and the other with the Bird, and often
in the van of the hottest fights — conspicuous marks — yet they
escaped the deadly shafts ! Bullets flew about the Eagle like
a shower of hailstones, yet nothing harmed him ! It seems
there was a special guardianship; that around that Eagle was
a charm, which augured the preservation of the Union.
ORDER OF THE EAGLE BEARERS.
1. James McGennis, of Eau Claire, from Sept. 1, 1861, to
May 30, 1862.
2. Thomas J. Hill, of Eau Claire, from May 30, 1862, to
Aug. 18, 1862.
3. David McLane, of Menomonie, from Aug. 18, 1862, to
Oct — , 1862,
4. Edward Homaston, of Eau Clair, from Oct. — , 1862, to
Sept. — , 1863.
5. John Buckhardt, of Eau Claire, from Sept. — , 1863, to
ept. — , 1864.
ROMANCES OF THE EAGLE.
One writer states that during a desperate engagement, the
Eagle, inspired by the conflict, and determined to end it in
Union victory, tore away from his perch, and, with intermit-
tent screams, soared aloft over the enemy, making several
grand circuits, and then returned to his post, on which he sat
a few moments intently eyeing each movement, and, when
necessary for another demonstration, he leaped again into the
smoke, darting along the rebel ranks, and thence up, higher,
higher, penetrating the cloud, where he reveled awhile, and
came down like a bolt of lightning, swooping close to the
heads of the rebels, with a startling yell, who, seeing the omen,
fled amazed, broken and defeated. The full truth of this story
ROMANCES OF THE EAGLE. 55
we do not vouch for. It may be somewhat colored. We
give it as we receive it.
Another lover of the marvelous declares that the Eagle, in
one of his daring nights at the battle of Corinth, after fright-
ening the rebels out of their wits, returned with a secesh cap
in his beak, and daintily dropped it into the hands of his
Bearer. The soldier does not say he tore off any rebel scalps,
but siq^oses that he did !
A poet celebrates the Eagle in the Chicago Tribune. "He
is introduced," says the Madison Journal^ " while poised in
the azure depths of air." His shadow falls on
" A boy whose right arm clasped a maid,
While his left one held a gun."
A trying position for a young soldier ! The influence of
the Eagle's shadow imparted strength and courage. The
young man bade the girl adieu, and the Eagle hovered over
the Eighth as it departed for the war. He followed them, and
his shadow. floated above the old flag, until he finally perched,
on the tent of the boy before mentioned, who had been
wounded in battle. The boy and the Eagle became fast
friends. When the former recovered, the Eagle perches on
his shoulder as the regiment goes into battle, and his scream,
sounding through the roar of artillery is like that of the genius
The poet concludes :
" The Eighth Wisconsin marches on,
By danger undeterred,
And one of them bears on his right a gun,
And on his left the noble bird ;
And his dream by night is a vision sweet,
Of a fair Wisconsin glade,
Where he meets with his first and last retreat,
Outflanked, right and left, by a maid !"
In a long poem, published in an Ohio journal, another writer
attempts to give the whole history of the Eagle. He lays the
scene of the home and capture of the Bird near the lakes at
the beautiful city of Madison, Wisconsin.
The story is, that in this place there was a " sweet garden;"
and in it " grew a darling flower full of all graces ;" and this
flower was Azile, a woman, whose eyes were so bewitching
that when persons looked into them they fell into a trance,
56 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
and then she would laugh them into the world again. Well,
this transfiguring damsel, with a "fair train" of young folks,
" manned'''' a canoe and paddled across the lake to the "Eagle-
tree," which was an old dry oak. To get at it, she had to
" scale the dizzy crest " which was " secure from access," and
this was the reason that she undertook the wonderful feat.
The story, in a playful criticism, is thus told by the editor of
the Madison Journal :
" The simple fact that it was ' secure from access ' made her
determined, with the characteristic enterprise of our young
Cavils, to reach it. How she made a short speech to her com-
panions ; how she pointed to the mountain top ; where, on the
summit of an old dry oak, the nest was built ; how she then
began to mount the frightful crags ; how she ascended towards
' the dreamy clouds ;' how she climbed until she ' hung with
frenzied clutch upon an overreaching wall ; and how, just as
her attempt threatened to result in complete failure, a ' baby
' Curious to know what demon sprite
Clung 'neath him on that mountain's hideous ledge,' —
ventured to peep over the edge of the nest, lost his balance,
fell, and dropped Avithin reach of Azile, who seized him, and,
' like the rain, dashed down the conquered precipice,' with the
old eagles shrieking after her ; — are all related with due
" Azile reared the young eagle, and when the war broke out,
gave him to her lover, who had enlisted in the Eighth, and who
perished while charging with the Eagle ' in the very face of
death.' Then we are told how the Eagle winged forth, 'with
warrior eyes to scan the Rappahannock and the Rapidan ;'
how he circled o'er the plains at Fredericksburg, and then flew
back to the Eighth, and accompanied them in the conquest of
Vicksburg. Having brought the history of the Eagle down
to this point, the writer, with poetical license, dips boldly into
the future, and draws a picture of the final battle in which the
rebellion is to be crushed, and in which the Eagle will play a
most conspicuous part."
The rest of the story is soon told. Putting on a full head
of steam, our poet gets the Yankees and secessionists into an
awful fight, the last one of the war, terrible as that of the an-
gels in heaven when they tore up "the shaggy mountains to
their roots," which he says they did with " mild and tender
playfulness !" Some time during this all-day battle, the " Ea-
gle-tree " struck against the " Southern pine," followed by a
OLD ABB ON HIS VETERAN FURLOUGH. 57
shout from the boys — " Fight for the Eagle !" No wonaer the
victory was gained. Then the Eagle caught up a little flag,
bearing the glad motto of " Rebellion's dead !" and wheeled
" high in air ;" and, getting on a bee-line, with a single flight
flew across the Atlantic ; where the first object he saw was the
British lion, and on him he pounced, right on his " crest,"
which caused him to cower in confusion, for " Old Abe" took
a long rest there, doubtless eating his live flesh. When satis-
fied, he spread forth his " lordly wings " again, and flaunted
that little flag in the faces of monarchs, whereon they trem-
blingly read : " The Union lives again — Rebellion's dead !"
" Bravo !" for " Old Abe." It will be grand when our Eagle
rides on England's Lion !
OLD ABE ON HIS VETERAN FURLOUGH.
What joy thrilled the hearts of the soldiers left after three
years fighting for freedom, when the little word was spoken
— home — with permit to return to old Wisconsin ! Where
were the original nine hundred and seventy-three men ? where
the two hundred and seven recruits? Alas, pestilence and
battle had swept nearly half of them into graves that are
henceforth portals of glory to the 'Model Republic' Sad
thought admixed with the joy ! — -joy in suffering — joy in " the
homeward-bound;" — two hundred and forty re-enlisted vet-
erans with their Eagle !
On the 19th of June 1864, these war-scarred patriots started
from Memphis, and arrived at Chicago on Tuesday, the 21st,
stopping at the Soldiers' Rest.
58 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
GRAND RECEPTION IN MADISON.
The ramparts are all filled with men and women,
With peaceful men and women, that send onwards
Kisses and welcomings upon the air
Which they make breezy with affectionate gestures.
From all the joyous towers ring out the merry hells,
The joyous vespers of a bloody day.
happy man ! fortunate ! for whom
The well-known door, the faithful arms are open,
The faithful, tender arms, with mute embracing.
The State authorities in Madison received a telegram from
Chicago, stating that the Eighth Wisconsin Veterans, number-
ing two hundred and forty strong, would arrive at Madison on
the 22d. Accordingly, generous preparation was made to give
them a glorious welcome — " such a welcome as they deserve."
The Madison State Journal thus sums up the imposing scene :
" The re-enlisted veterans of the 8th Wisconsin regiment arrived on the
afternoon train, Tuesday, and after a good dinner prepared for them at
Mosher's Railroad House, marched up town to the Capitol Park, where
the reception took place a little after six o'clock. A large concourse of
citizens had assembled to witness the spectacle. Flags were displayed
along the streets, the bells of the city rung, and a national salute fired.
The live Eagle, " Old Abe," and the tattered and riddled colors of the
regiment attracted all eyes. Since we first saw him at Camp Randall in
1861, " Old Abe " has grown considerably, and has acquired dignity and
ease of bearing. He sits on his perch undisturbed by any noise or tumult,
the impersonation of haughty defiance. He has shared all the long marches
of this regiment, including Sherman's great raid and the campaign up
Red River, and passed through a great number of battles, in which he has
once or twice had some of his feathers shot away, but has never received a
scratch from a rebel bullet sufficient to draw blood. He is the pet of the
After the Regiment had been drawn up in the Park, Gov.
James T. Lewis being absent, they were eloquently addressed
by Adj. Gen. Augustus Gaylord, Gen. Lucius Fairchild, Hon.
J. H. Carpenter, and Hon. Chauiicey Abbott. Their welcome
" With thoughts that breathe
And words that burn."
The following extracts from each of these speeches will
show the gratitude of the defended, due the defenders :
"We are proud of you in the remembrance of the many bold and success*
GRAND RECEPTION IN MADISON. 59
ful strokes you have made in the name of Freedom ; and we are proud
while with sadness we remember the many honored graves of those who
have fallen from your ranks, and whose memory shall ever be green in the
hearts of a grateful people. And if amid the toils and dangers the thought
has ever passed your mind that we were unmindful of you, I pray you
discard the thought. We have followed you, in common with all our regi-
ments, with anxious hearts. Your successes have been our pride, and
your sufferings have been our sorrow."
"The services you have voluntarily rendered were as much for our good
as for yours. Such services could only be rendered voluntarily by those
actuated by the highest virtue, the purest patriotism and the highest
aspirations for the glory and greatness of the country whose campaigns
Henceforth the fact that you have thus served our country in its hour of
greatest peril shall be a sure passport to any and every circle of loyal
Again, I bid you welcome, and may the blessing of God be with you
and your families."
" When you first entered the army, you inscribed your names upon the
roll of honor, and you have re-written them a hundred times since with
your muskets, and again when you re-enlisted. The old veterans of the
Second, whom I see around me, welcome you. They know how much
stamina it takes to re-enlist, as few others can realize so fully. It was
not for large bounties, for gain or glory that you decided to remain in the
service. It was because you were unwilling to stay at home and see the
country cut in two by the authors of this damnable rebellion. Men who
re-enlist must love the cause they fight for, and it is those who have suf-
fered for the cause most who love it most, while those who have suffered
least grumble most. [Applause].
You will soon go to your homes and there you will receive a welcome
that will do your heart's good, in the warm grasp of the hand, the cordial
greeting, the gathering about you, even of the little children, to welcome
" In all your battles, sieges, marches and labors our hearts have been
with you. You and your brave and honored fellows, who arc not now
with you, have well earned the name of veterans. All your former services
assure us that on you the country may safely rely to defend our free
institutions and to maintain the government in its integrity over the entire
country. This flag which you bring back, worn by long service and rent
in battle, has been borne by you proudly in the face of every danger, and
has never been lowered before the enemy. You shall bear it on till there
is no armed rebel who dare longer assail it or you. If you have sometimes
met with losses and disasters, you will remember how much your arms
have achieved during the two years and eight months you have been in
the field — what 'rivers and harbors have been opened — what vast States
reclaimed and possessed — what rebel strongholds have been reduced — and
where the flag has been once planted it has never receded.
The glorious cause in which you are engaged has elevated all your aims
and ennobled all your acts. You are men of deeds, and all your acts show
that honor is dearer to you than life. By re-enlisting for the war you
show your confidence in the final triumph of our arms and the sure success
of the cause."
Nor was our Eagle forgotten, — an object of general interest,
proud and majestic, well had he fulfilled the augury of victory :
'*And with you we welcome the pet of your regiment, the Eagle, our
60 HISTORY OP THE LIVE EAGLE.
National emblem, whose fame has been widely spread and become historic
through pen and song. I have often wondered what sensations must have
filled the mind of rebels as you have borne him proudly with your regi-
ment, and while they remember the present attitude they maintain toward
our Government, one would think that the very sight would cause them to
hide their heads in shame. Bear him ever aloft with your advancing
shout, and let the rebels remember — yes, teach them that —
' Ne'er shall the rage of tne conflict be o'er,
And ne'er shall the warm blood of life cease to flov ,
And still 'mid the smoke of the battle shall soar
Our Eagle — till scattered and fled be the foe.' "
"At the conclusion of Gen. Fairchild's remarks, Col. Jefferson briefly
responded, returning the thanks of the regiment for the cordial welcome
that had been extended to them, and proposed "three cheers and a big
Eagle " for the Union, the President of the United States, and the State
officers of Wisconsin. Three cheers were given with great enthusiasm by
the boys of the Eighth, the Eagle evidently understanding his part, and
at the third hurrah, stretching himself to his full height, and expanding
his wings to the utmost."
THE RECEPTION IN EAU CLAIRE.
Early in the morning of Sunday the 26th of June, a rem-
nant of Company C, with the Eagle, arrived at Eau Claire,
and was greeted with booming cannon, martial music, patriotic
songs, and an abundant feast. It was a greeting of patriots,
a welcome of gratitude, a kindling of memories of the heroic
dead— a rejuvination of hope for our bleeding country.
Of course the Eagle — which was assigned a spacious yard
under a shading oak — received his old acquaintances with his
usual dignity, so much of dignity that, though admired, though
venerated, scarcely any one dared to touch even a kingly
feather, for was he not a veteran warrior? It was worth
more than his original price even to gaze once more upon that
The Eau Claire Free Press speaks of the "Eagle" as
" It will be remembered that, nearly three years ago, a band of the
stalwart sons of Wisconsin, numbering one hundred strong, under the
command of Capt. J. E. Perkins,— who 'ell while gallantly leading his
men in the battle of Farmington, Miss.— left their homes in the Chippewa
"old abe" celebrating in his native county. 61
Valley, and all that was dear to them, and joined the Eighth regiment at
Madison, to defend our nation from the grasp of rebellion. A couch
upon the tented field, the hardship and dangers of battle, the diseases
incident to camp life, were willingly accepted for the sake of country.
They swore that they would defend our national banner to the last drop of
their blood ; and they hcve kept that oath.
"The company has been filled up several times, and now only fifty-six
are left of the gallant band. Excepting the few discharged, the rest are
numbered with the honored dead. Thirty have re-enlisted, thinking their
services are as much needed now as when the rebellion first broke out.
All honor is due them for their patriotism. They bring with them the
'Eagle,' whence the regiment derives its name.
* * * * "The brave old Eighth has withstood the repeated
charges of rebel infantry, the daring dashes of their cavalry, the galling
fire of their musketry — never flinching, The Eagle is returned to us un-
harmed. Well may Eau Claire be proud — proud that she has a represent-
ative company in the Eagle Kegiment — proud that the Eagle, so famous,
is a native of the Chippewa Valley."
"OLD ABE" CELEBRATING IN HIS NATIVE
" Ye crags and peaks, I'm with you once again !
I hold to you the hands you first beheld,
To show they still are free."
The Eagle breathes again the pure air of his native woods
— hears again the mellow flow of the waters that kiss the ferns
of his wild home — catches with fiery glances the sunlight that
dusts the lakes where " Chief-Sky " paddles his light canoe —
spreads his oinions again ander the shadows of his nodding
On the 4th of July, 1864, the author was invited to address
the people at Chippewa Falls, respecting " Our National Du-
ties." " Old Abe," with several soldiers, was present. A
huge wigwam, emblematic of pioneer life, was constructed, in
which was served a great feast, the proceeds being for suffering
soldiers. Headed by a band of music, and the Eagle and his
compatriots in arms, the procession circled through the streets,
thrilling all hearts with enthusiasm. The object, the veterans,
62 HISTORY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
the war-Bird, made it indeed an inspiring occasion. A cor-
respondent, writing about it, says :
'•' The boys of the Eighth, with their loved Bird, honored
the stand. The dignified and noble looking creature remained
quiet until the Orator addressed the veteran warriors and their
living Eagle, when he turned his head with admirable grace,
and with a most intelligent expression in his eyes, listened at-
tentively to the encomium ; and when it was finished, with his
beak he smoothed the feathers of his breast, manifesting great
pride at the attention bestowed upon him. At the close of the
oration, three cheers were given for the old Starry Flag, three
for the brave boys of the Eighth, and three for the War-Eagle,
who, catching the enthusiasm, rose upon his perch, flapped his
wings, and, with a look expressive of delight, uttered a sharp,
shrill c t, calling forth the applause of the excited audience."
RETURNING TO THE WAR.
ALTERCATION WITH A COPPERHEAD CONDUCTOR.
Furlough days having expired, the regiment, on different
routes, hurried back to Memphis about the last of August.
Buckhardt, with his Eagle, was detained behind longer than
the rest ; he had, however, a few of the boys with him. When
they boarded the cars on the Blinois Central, he took " Old
Abe" into the seat with him, occupying the whole of it.
When the conductor came round, he demanded pay for the
" Not, tzir !" replied the German Bearer, with a sniff.
The conductor passed on, but soon returned, and, in high
dudgeon, swore he should pay him " passenger fare for that
Eagle," claiming it was due because he took up half a seat, and
was an " annoyance among ladies and gentlemen."
" John !" said a soldier, with a peculiar slide of the voice.
RETURNING TO THE WAR. 63
It meant — " stick to it." John saw a generous wink from the
soldier, and nerved himself for a defence.
" Pay for that thing, or I'll put you out!" again muttered
the enraged conductor, placing his hand with heavy force upon
the Bearer's shoulder.
" Val, den, ye dry dat on so quick 'sh ye may can ! Te
Eakel ish von free pirdt — free 'Merigan Eakel, tzir — he ride
Matters grew squally — the conductor seized him by the col-
lar — when, with a rush and a menace, the boys circled around
John and his Eagle. Seeing this unlooked for motion, and
realizing the crushing fact that nearly all the passengers sym-
pathized with the German, on the plea of the Eagle's rights,
the conductor showed his valor by sliding backward, with an
adroit expertness, out into another car*
" Copperhead !" shouted the boys with a laugh. " Might as
well fight such sneaks as rebs, John — eh ?"
Soldiers left at Memphis aver, that when the Eagle returned,
they could scarcely recognize him, he had changed so by a
northern trip. They say the feathers on his head and neck
had turned from a dark to a white color. So they called him
Indian traders say, the head and neck feathers of this species
of eagle, for the first three or four years are dark, and then
they gradually change to white. This agrees with the fact just
stated of the Bird ; for at the time he was on his furlough, he
was between three and four years old. " Old Abe " has these
feathers, clear and beautiful, and is unquestionably a Bald-
Headed Eagle, as is our national emblem.
A reliable Ornithologist writes : — " It is not bald-headed, as
its name indicates ; but the appearance of the white feathers
of the head, contrasting strongly with the dark color of the
rest of the plumage, has given it the false name by which it is
now generally known."
When the faithful veterans were to be mustered out of ser-
vice, at Memphis, on the 16th of September, 1864, the question
was mooted in the company, "What shall be done with the
Eagle ?" Some were in favor of giving him to Eau Claire ;
others, to the National government in Washington ; others to
the State of Wisconsin. All things considered, the latter sug-
64 HIST0KY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
gestion was deemed the most appropriate ; it was also decided
that, as the Eagle had served in a long and successful cam-
paign, he was entitled to an endless furlough, and should be
carried to Madison with the returning veterans.
Bidding an affectionate adieu, the re-enlisted soldiers ca-
ressed their Eagle for the last time, and the twenty-six veterans
of Company C, wended their way north, reaching Chicago the
21st of September, where Buckhardt resigned his Eagle-com-
mission, averring that he had lone his duty, and thought some
other one ought to carry him the rest of the way. John H.
Hill, brother of Thomas, volunteered his services. To him it
was quite a heavy load — perch and Eagle together. Being
disabled by a wound received at the battle of Corinth, he was
obliged to rest occasionally at the corners of the streets, where
knots of citizens gathered, eager to inquire about the Bird's
health, always with words of exulting pride.
THE VETERAN EAGLE IN STATE.
God in heaven!— whose spirit fills
All the echoes of our hills,
All the murmurs of our rills,
Now the storm is o'er ; —
let freemen be our sons,
And let future Washingtons
Eise to lead their valiant ones,
Till there's war no more.
The Veteran of the Mississippi Campaign, illustrious in mili-
tary association, with eye unblenched, with fearless and untir-
ing wing, comes home to rest in state, crowned with honors
won in the battles of our country. Oft had he by example
cheered the desponding, roused ambition, and encouraged
sacrifices. He had enlivened the dull hours of camp life, and
THE VETERAN EAGLE IN STATE. 65
stood aloft with unfurled pinions, and with wild, terrible shriek,
led the deadly charge to victory. Under the war-flag, tattered
and torn, yet blazing with the stars he loved, this Bird of the
Union had taught by his spirit the true art of conquest, and
evoked a purpose, a daring, a martyr spirit, that can be felt
only in like hearts that love liberty better than life. Was it not
due, then, that he should become a Bird of State, the perpetual
emblem of atonement for national sin, whose blessings of heav-
enly forgiveness shall descend upon the people as " the dews
of Hermon," and upon the people's children, making America
;< The 'and of the free and the home of the brave ?"
None better appreciated this truth than that veteran band of
seventy warriors, of which twenty-six were of company C, as
they arrived at Madison on the 22d, with their precious gift to
tender to the State authorities of Wisconsin. "Johnny" Hill
bore the Eagle into the Capital with a soldierly simplicity of
The soldiers having received their pay, the next duty in
order was to tender the Eagle to the State. The. hour ap-
pointed for this ceremony was three o'clock of the 26th. Then
the hero-Bird, with his old perch, was taken across the shady
park into the aisle of the Capitol, where Captain Wolf was
met by Quarter Master General N. F. Lund, who immediately
entered the Executive Department, and informed the Governor
that " Old Abe " was in waiting When invited in among the
officials assembled there for the occasion, our German warrior
was very much abashed. It was indeed an awkward position ;
he would have preferred to face the cannon's mouth any day —
there he was at home ; but it was not soldierly to flinch, so,
nerving himself co the desperate effort, he blushingly ap-
proached the Governor with uncovered head, and respectfully
addressed him in brief words, of which the following is the
substance, as related by the Madison Journal :
" An interesting presentation was made at three o'clock yes-
terday afternoon, in the Governor's room. This was nothing
less tlian the gift of the celebrated Eagle of the Eighth regi-
ment to the State of Wisconsin. Captain Wolf, of company
C — the color company — and the one having care of the Eagle,
presented it to Governor Lewis, stating how it was valued by
the regiment ; how it had been in their midst, between their
66 HISTORY OP THE LIVE EAGLE.
flags, in many a victorious conflict with the enemy, and how it
had cheered and kept up their spirits by its bright and daunt-
less mein during many weary marches, and the tedium of camp
life. It had been with them for three years; and when the
time of the company expired, and they were about to leave the
service, the veterans voted that the Eagle should be presented
to the State, to be kept as an honored and inspiring memento
of the regiment, and the times in which it had fought the bat-
tles of the nation with true and strong men who rallied around
" Governor Lewis, on the part of the State, had the pleasure
of accepting the famous Eagle of the Eighth regiment, and
assured the Captain that it would be well cared for at the Cap-
itol, where it would remain to invite inspiring memories of the
brave boys who had carried it with such honor to themselves
and the State.
" The Governor then handed the Eagle, with its perch, to
Quarter Master General Lund, whom he said would see that it
was suitably kept.
"The Eagle never looked better than at present, his plumage
being full and glossy, and his eye piercingly bright. He will
be an honored curiosity at the Capitol, and the many incidents
connected with his service in the field with the gallant Eighth,
will often be told to the admiring crowds that perhaps for
years and years will come to see the Badger Eagle."
Through the courtesy of the present Quarter Master General,
J. M. Lynch, the author is furnished with the private record of
the receipt of the Eagle, found in the diary of his predecessor,
General Lxmd, which is as follows :
RECEIPT OF THE EAGLE.
"Madison, Sept. 26, 1864.
" Received from the Governor, the live Eagle ' Old Abe,' of
the Eighth Regt. Wis. Vol. Infantry.
" The Eagle was formally presented to the Governor in his
office to-day at three o'clock, by Capt. Victor Wolf, of com-
pany C, in behalf of the company and regiment, the above
named company having brought the Eagle into Camp Randall
ADVENTUEE OF A PRIVATE. 6^
in September, 1861, from Eau Claire, and carried him through
all the marches and battles of the regiment since that time.
This having been the color company, the Eagle has been borne
by them beside the colors of the regiment.
" The majority of the company had within the past three
days been paid off, and mustered out of service. They arrived
here the 22d inst.
" In presenting the Eagle to the Governor, Capt. Wolf said
that he had been a good soldier, and never had flinched in
battle or march ; that he had been well cared for by company
C, and he hoped he would be as well taken care of by the
" In reply, the Governor assured the Captain, that the Eagle
should be well and carefully taken care of, and as safely kept
as possible, as iong as he lived."
ADVENTURE OF A PRIVATE.
The hero of our truthful story is John F. Hill, the volunteer
veteran Bearer of the Eagle during his transit from the army
to become a State Bird, He enlisted in company C, Eighth
Wisconsin, in Eau Claire, at the beginning of the war, being
then but sixteen years of age. His brother, Thomas J., was
his senior in the same ranks. Their father afterwards enlisted
in the 36th Wisconsin, and was killed in a battle near Peters-
burg. A loyal family that !
In the battle of Corinth, this young soldier was standing
close by the colors on tne left He had fired six times at the
enemy, and was just putting on a cap for another discharge, when
a large Minie ball struck his right arm at the point of the
elbow, and glanced off into his side, passing clear through
him. He fell instantly, his first thought being that the color
guard had accidentally hit him with the staff.
Seeing this favorite boy lying there, a soldier ran to Captain
Wolf, stating that " John Hill is killed !" " Never mind," re-
plied the Captain, " we can't attend to dead men now." Soon
68 HISTORY OP THE LIVE EAGLE.
after this, the Captain himself passed the spot, looked at him,
rolled him over, and pronounced him dead : then with his sword
he hacked the bai*k of a tree near him, that he might be more
readily found after the battle.
Our army fell back ; the rebels advanced, passing our
wounded soldier. Four hours he lay there weltering in his
blood, the pulse of life feebly beating. Coming to his con-
sciousness about dark, he rose to his feet, and, with a stagger-
ing gait, started for the Union camp, but had not gone far
when he was taken prisoner, and turned back, fainting at inter-
vals on the way. By midnight he had walked four miles to
the rebel hospital, where he was obliged to lie out all that rainy
night under a tree Some time during the darkness, after the
i . bel wounded were cared for. John respectfully entreated the
Surgeon to dress his wound.
"Dress your wound?" replied the "Southern gentleman,"
" what's the use ? You wont live till morning !"
O, the painful hours — how slowly they dragged the night !
Three o'clock — four o'clock, six o'clock — morning ! and yet he
lives, unpitied, untouched, save by the sweet heavens that
wept over him.
In due time the Surgeon went the rounds among his patients,
inquiring after their condition, and finding John steaming in
the wet, shouted with an indifferent air :
" Hello, Yank, you are alive yet, ar'n't ye ?"
" Guess I am," iaintly answered the resolute boy.
" Well, you'll fag out to-day — it's going to be hot !"
Was it generosity, or insult, that prompted the Surgeon to
throw him some parched corn ?
" Eat that if you want," said Secesh.
About 12 M., the rebels began to "etreat, when a cavalry
man rushed into the hospital, saying :
" All that are able to walk, come with me — the Yankees are
driving us !"
Just as the word was spoken, and a portion had left, John
rose up, staggered to the same Surgeon, and asked him if he
had any objection to his going into Corinth.
« ]s[ J — you can't go a rod from where you are standing,"
answered the rebel, with an oath.
ADVENTURE OP A PRIVATE. 69
John now began his snail-like journey to his friends, the
blood from his side frothing out at every motion.
That morning, Thomas (the brother) procured a spade and
pickaxe, and a head-board, on which he had recorded the sad
epitaph, and, thus equipped, hurried to find the tree marked
by Captain Wolf, there expecting to bury the body of his
Thus the two boys were approaching each other, but by
different routes, not far apart, however. At a distance John
saw Thomas, and spoke as loud as he could — " Thomas !"
Thus interrogated, Thomas looked here and there, and at
last discerned a straggler, but did not at first recognize him.
Again John called,
"Thomas, it's me!"
Thomas approached, and when within a few rods, recognized
his brother, and chokingly articulated :
" You, — John ! John, is it you ?"
Imagine the happy meeting — the dead alive again !
John leaned upon his brother's arm, and thus was helped
into Corinth, where he was tenderly cared for by our Surgeon.
"When his wound was dressed, he fainted, but soon revived.
That night the Surgeon gave orders to watch John, stating he
would probably die before morning ; but he lived and partially
John remained in the service another year, doing light work,
at one time faithfully fulfilling the duties of the Adjutant's
As already described, he returned with the veterans, bearing
the Eagle to the Governor of Wisconsin.
May a grateful country remember this worthy young man,
and all who have sacrificed so much to restore the Union to
her original integrity.
10 HISTOKY OF THE LIVE EAGLE.
STATE EAGLE AS HE IS.
It will be seen by the engraving (photographed by J. F.
Bodtker, of Madison, and engraved by W. D. Baker, of Chi-
cago,) that the Eagle has now a beautiful fringe of white
feathers on his head and neck, showing he is truly our Na-
tional Bird. His tail is also white, spotted with black ; but
the rest of his plumage is a fine chocolate, tinted with a golden
gloss. He can at will swell up his feathers in angry aspect,
or he can contract them close, as he does when in the attitude
of flight, and then he glances upward, bends down his tail
rigidly, crouches low on his perch, half poises his wings, and
springs with a terrible power, often severing the strong cord
attached to his right foot* This he did at the late celebration
of Washington's birth day, in Madison, when he sailed grandly
over a church and alighted among some dogs, as if disposed
to renew acquaintance with "Frank," of divorce notoriety.
His legs are a bright yellow, covered with thick hard scales,
tough as sole leather ; his four talons on each foot are black
and hooked, like grappling irons ; his breast is full and heavy,
trembling with ardent emotion ; his beak bends symetrically
over the lower part, and is of a flint color, — with this he tearc
his prey with delightful avidity. The length of his powerful
wings, from tip to tip, is six feet and a half. He is now in ex-
cellent condition, weighing ten pounds and a half. His eyes,
set in white down, are encircled with a papillary yellow lining,
and next to this is one of black, delicately thin ; then comes the
cornea, which is a light corruscating gray ; his pupil is large
and densely black, flashing with a look that seems to go right
through you. Very graceful are the curves of his head and
neck as he surveys the objects around him, especially when
receiving attentions. Sometimes he will bristle up his neck
feathers, arching over his eyes, and look out, as from under a
white cloud, thoughtfully at his guests, studying character.
Take him all in all, in the contrasts of his color and dignity of
manner, he is indeed magnificent; associating this with his
history, under the consciousness that he symbolizes American
Freedom, he becomes to the ideal patriot the talisman of in-
STATE EAGLE AS HE IS. 11
The State authorities, and citizens of Madison at large, are
peculiarly attached to our Eagle, often inquiring how he fares
and prospers. The Quarter Master General, through his kind
keeper, cares for him with the strictest fidelity. His present
abode is in the State Armory, surrounded by other trophies of
the war, himself always the chief object of inspection by
May he live a hundred years, and when his eagle-spirit takes
flight to his eyrie in celestial skies, stuff, we say, his skin, with
the last plumage on, and preserve it in the archives of the
Capitol, from generation to generation, to refresh sacred mem-
ories of this Sacrificial Day of Independence.
The bright example of the days in which our Eagle gained
his name is before us — Patriotism, Justice, Victory, — let us
copy it! The treasure we spend is welding again the
riven chain of States. The battle of Right with Wrong,
baptizing the land with blood, is but the storm of Spring
that breaks up our cold and frozen humanity, and bids the
waters of love flow again freer and purer for the "healing
of the nations." The tears we shed are but the mirrors
wherein the spirits of heroes see the foreshadowed riches of
our future civilization. The groans we heave, as the enemy
stabs the innocent at home, are to be the basal notes of a
grand symphony, soon to be sung over the plains of our
Bethlehem — " Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and
good-will toward men." Death to the old, under the bolt
from the war-cloud that rends in twain the veil of our temple,
proclaiming "liberty throughout all the land," is but the pre-
lude to a new life in the body politic, a new creation in a
Better Age, when our altars shall be crowned with the olive,
and the angels of Science and Christianity shall preside over
a Brotherhood of Races. •
"And then we'll raise, on Liberty's broad base,
A structure of wise government, and show,
In our new world, a glorious spectacle
By reason swayed, self-governed, self-improved,
And the electric chain of public good
Twined round the public happiness of each ;
And every heart thrilled by the patriot chord
That sounds the glory of America."
No. j 7 ? Sect, g Shelf /
Lincoln National Life Foundation
Collateral Lincoln Library