|Death: ||Mar. 26, 1881|
Civil War (Union) mascot and depicted on the insignia of the 101st Airborne Division, United States Army. In the spring of 1861, around the time of the outbreak of the Civil War, Chief Sky of the Chippewa Indians caught a young bald eagle and traded it to a farmer for some corn. The farmer brought the eagle to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where a citizen bought it for five dollars and presented it to Captain John E. Perkins of Company C, Eighth Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, in the fall of 1861. Captain Perkins gave the name Abe after President Abraham Lincoln. Since Company C had been recruited in Eau Claire, the company was called the Eau Claire Eagles, and when they were organized into the Eighth Regiment, also that fall, at Camp Randall, Madison, Wisconsin, the regiment became known as the Eagle Regiment. Abe weighed over ten pounds and his wingspan was six and one-half feet. Being a bald eagle, Abe's head and the greater part of his neck were snowy white, as was his tail, while his body was brown, with a golden tinge. Members of Company C bore the regimental colors (flags), and next to them an eagle bearer carried an elaborate perch, where Abe, the living national emblem, was secured. This was done with a leather ring around one of Abe's legs, holding a cord long enough for Abe to leave his perch and reach the ground. The Eighth Wisconsin, along with Abe, served in Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas, and participated in many engagements, where Abe would get very excited and scream. On October 3, 1862, at the battle of Corinth, Mississippi, a bullet severed Abe's tether and the eagle soared over the Confederate troops, but soon returned to his perch. It is said that Confederate General Sterling Price had seen Abe at Corinth and stated that he would rather capture the eagle than a dozen Federal battle flags or a whole Federal brigade. In the fall of 1864, when the original members of Company C completed their three year enlistments, Company C presented Abe to the State House in Madison, Wisconsin. Abe being a veteran, he was known as Old Abe. Being very popular, Old Abe was sometimes sent to fairs, along with an attendant, to help raise funds for worthy causes. In 1879, Old Abe was sent to Boston, Massachusetts, to help preserve the Old South Church, and was there for over two months, along with an attendant. Old Abe's popularity was so great that promoter P.T. Barnum offered the State of Wisconsin twenty thousand dollars for Old Abe, but it was refused. In the winter of 1881, a fire in the Wisconsin State House apparently caused smoke damage to Old Abe, for he never seemed well again, and he expired on March 26. Many Civil War veterans wanted Old Abe to be buried with military honors and erect a handsome monument in his memory, but it was decided that Old Abe would be mounted and displayed in the War Museum in Madison. In 1904, another fire destroyed Old Abe's remains. Presently, there is a replica of him in the Wisconsin State Assembly Chamber, and one in bronze at the top of the Wisconsin Memorial at the Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi. On May 23, 1923, the organization of the 101st Division, United States Army, was approved, and the designation "Airborne" was added on August 28, 1942. The division had originally been formed in, or was derived from, Wisconsin, and its insignia therefore depicts Old Abe. As Old Abe screamed on the battlefields of the Civil War, it is very appropriate that the 101st Airborne Division is known as the "Screaming Eagles."
Body lost or destroyed
Specifically: Destroyed in a fire.
Created by: Leon Edmund Basile
Record added: Aug 01, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 55722176
Added: Jun. 25, 2014