An uninformed observer watching the 2nd battle of Corinth, Mississippi, on October 2, 1862 would have been flabbergasted by the strange behavior of the Confederate troops. Many of them, instead of aiming at Union soldiers, were turning their rifles skyward, shooting at a bird flying high above. “Get that confounded eagle!” had been their general’s orders. The bird they were trying to hit was one of the most amazing mascots ever carried by American servicemen - Old Abe, a giant bald eagle. Fearless of whistling bullets and roaring cannonades, he amazed, amused and inspired the men who fought alongside him in 37 engagements.
As the Nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the battles and events of the American Civil War, Wings Over Alma is bringing nature into this time period with their program on “Old Abe”, a bald eagle and mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. She was the mascot of the Eau Claire company of the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, who combined with others to form the 8th Regiment. Old Abe became a living symbol of the Union at war and traveled with the 8th throughout the regiment’s participation in campaigns from 1861 to 1864.
Carried on a perch atop a shield, Old Abe was never wounded in any of the 37 engagements she shared with her regiment. She became famous for spreading her wings and shrieking at appropriate moments during battle and was glorified by the Northern media.
Learn how Old Abe was captured as an eaglet by Ah-ga-mah-we-zhig (Chief Sky) of the Lac du Flambeau Lake Superior Chippewas, traded to the McCanns of the Jim Falls area and sold to the Eau Claire company of the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. Naming the bald eagle Old Abe, Eau Claire’s Company C became the Eagle Company and the 8th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment became the Eagle Regiment.
Join us for our monthly nature talk at Wings Over Alma in Alma, Wisconsin on Sunday, May 20th. Katherine Goodman of the Alma Historical Society will lead an informative discussion on this particular bald eagle’s history and brush with fame.
Event is free and open to the public. Presentation begins at 1pm at the Wings Over Alma Nature & Art Center on Sunday, June 20th.
June Nature Talk – Save the date for our nature talk on June 17th at 7pm, Jean Kelley of Beaver Creek Reserve will lead the Alma Bat Walk, an evening walking tour of Alma where we will count and document Alma’s bat population.