Orig Civil War Cdv "old Abe" 8th Wisconsin Mascot Famous War Eagle For Sale
Offered is a very nice, Civil War period CDV of "Old Abe" the mascot war eagle of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry. This view is a scarce version that is seldom seen. It shows the eagle early in the war before his head feathers turned white . Bald eagles stay dark as juveniles until they mature. Very clear and in excellent condition. This is out of an old photo collection that I am listing. Here is some more info on the fascinating career of Old Abe:
Old Abe(May 1861 – March 26, 1881), a femalebald eagle, was themascotof the8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regimentin theAmerican Civil War. Later, her image was adopted as the eagle appearing on a globe inCase Corporation's logo and as the screaming eagle on the insignia of theU.S. Army's101st Airborne Division.
Capture and saleIn spring of 1861, Chief Sky set up a hunting and fishing camp near theSouth Fork of the Flambeau River, within the present dayChequamegon National Forest, east ofPark Falls, Wisconsin. Here, he noticed a treetop nest, with two fledgling eagles, and to capture them, cut down the tree. One eaglet died from the fall, and the other became the young Indian's pet.That summer, Chief Sky and his father canoed down theChippewa Riveron a trading expedition. AtJim Falls, Wisconsin,they encounteredDaniel McCann, who lived nearby inEagle Point.The Indians sold the eagle to McCann in exchange for a bushel of corn.
Old Abe was captured by Ahgamahwegezhig or “Chief Sky". He was the son of Ah-mous (translated either as “The Little Bee” or “Thunder of Bees”), who was an influential leader of theLac du Flambeau Ojibwe.
In August 1861, John C. Perkins,assisted by Seth Pierce, Frank McGuire,Thomas G. Butler and Victor Wolf,recruited a company of volunteers fromEau This company was called the "Eau Claire Badgers". Soon after its formation, McCann offered to sell the eagle to the Badgers, for $2.50. In his "History of Old Abe", published in 1865, Joseph O. Barrett, who helped McCann bring the eagle to Eau Claire, gave a description of the transaction, which can be paraphrased as:
"Will you buy my eagle," said McCann, "only two dollars and a half?""Here, boys, let's put in twenty five cents apiece," answered Frank McGuire, who began to collect quarters.He also solicited a contribution from a civilian, S. M. Jeffers, but was rebuffed. When the soldiers heard of this, they accosted Jeffers, and gave him three lusty groans. When he understood that they were protesting against his reluctance to help buy the eagle, Jeffers laughed, paid for the bird with aQuarter Eagleand presented her to the Company. After that, he had cheers instead of groans. The quarters were returned to the donors.
Captain Perkins named the eagle after PresidentAbraham Lincoln,his quartermaster, Francis L. Billings, made a special perch on which to carry the bird into battle,and a young soldier, James McGinnis, volunteered to take care of her.Island Number TenCivil War
On September 3, 1861, the Badgers embarked, aboard the steamer "Stella Whipple", on a trip down the Chippewa to the Mississippi and up theWisconsin RivertoMadison, Wisconsin. They arrived on the 6th and were immediately mustered into service as Company C of the8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment. They became the regimental color company and were given the name "Eagle Company". The regiment also became the "Eagle Regiment". After a few weeks of training atCamp Randall, it began to play an important role in theWestern Theater of the American Civil War.
On October, 12, the regiment left forSt. Louis, Missouri, where the eagle got loose and flew out of sight. Fortunately, a policeman soon returned him.On the following day, the regiment left by rail toFredericktown, Missouri, and on October 20, 1861, took part in thebattle of Fredericktown. Subsequently, they were assigned guard duty until March 4, 1862, when they relocated to Point Pleasant, nearNew Madrid, Missouri, where they became part of GeneralJohn Pope'sArmy of the Mississippi. From this base, during March and April, they participated in thebattle of Island Number Ten, which ended with a major victory that opened the Mississippi to Union forces down toFort Pillow, just aboveMemphisThousands of Confederate prisoners were taken, along with valuable supplies.Corinth
In May 1862, the 8th participated in GeneralHenry Halleck'sSiege of Corinth, whose objective was to secure a critical rail junction of theMobile & OhioandMemphis & Charlestonrailroads. On May 9, 1862, during the approach toCorinth, the Eagle Company experienced its first serious combat at thebattle of Farmington, Mississippi, during which Old Abe Spread his wings and screamed. Here, Captain Perkins died and was replaced by the newly promoted Captain Victor Wolf.On May 29, after a skirmish at defensive works before Corinth, the Confederates withdrew during the night. The next day, the regiment marched into the city. That day, James McGinnis became sick with a fatal illness and was replaced as eagle bearer by Thomas J. Hill, who served until David McLain took over on August 18.
On August 22, after being bivouacked in summer quarters, the regiment arrived inTuscumbia, Alabama, which is in the northwest corner of the state a few miles from the Mississippi border. By this time, GeneralUlysses S. Granthad taken over Halleck's responsibilities innorthern Mississippi. The 8th Wisconsin was still part of theArmy of the Mississippi, but GeneralWilliam Rosecranshad replaced Pope as commander. The regiment was in the second brigade of GeneralDavid S. Stanley's second division, which was led by ColonelJoseph A. Mower.Pope's army was assigned to hold 20 miles of rail from Corinth east toIuka, where the 8th Wisconsin was stationed. On September 13, 1862, the ConfederateArmy of the Westunder GeneralSterling Priceappeared at Iuka and forced the regiment back to Farmington.
Shortly thereafter, forces under Rosencrans and GeneralEdward Ordattempted to capture Price's army, which awaited, at Iuka, the arrival of massive reinforcements from GeneralEarl Van Dorn'sArmy of West Tennessee. On September 19, during thebattle of Iuka, a fresh north wind caused anacoustic shadowthat prevented Ord from hearing the battle. Consequently, he was unaware of it, and his troops stood idle while fighting raged a few miles away.Nevertheless, the army of Rosencrans forced Price to withdraw during the night. He soon linked up with Van Dorn inRipley.
On October 3 and 4, the combined Confederate armies launched a full scale assault on Corinth, which was repulsed by troops under Rosencrans. During heavy fighting in thisSecond Battle of Corinth, 21 soldiers of the 8th Wisconsin died, and 60 were wounded. Colonel Mower was wounded in the neck and briefly captured.
Newspaper accounts of this battle claimed that Old Abe soared over the front lines. According to David McLain, these stories are exaggerated:
… a bullet cut the cord that held the eagle to his perch. About the same time that the cord was cut, Old Abe was shot through one wing, cutting out three quill feathers, but not drawing blood, and the bearer (McLain) was shot through the left shoulder of his blouse and right leg of his pants.… (The eagle) flew about 50 feet down the line, must have been what caused the newspapers to come out the next week with great headlines telling about the eagle of the 8th Wisconsin getting away after a rebel bullet cut his cord and soaring, over the lines of both armies, and back to his perch, which is not so.He was quite excited always in battle and he'd spread his wings and scream but never flew over the lines of either army.Vicksburg
During this push, the 8th Wisconsin, with Old Abe, was in the thick of the fighting.In Oxford, the regiment was accosted by a southern girl who scornfully exclaimed: "Oh! See thatYankee Buzzard.", which drew a verbal response from the 8th's ranks that caused her to retreat hastily to her house.This was a name by which southern civilians and soldiers referred to Old Abe. Under orders from their officers, Confederate troops made numerous attempts to kill or capture the eagle, but they never succeeded.
On November 2, 1862, the regiment moved toGrand Junction, Tennessee, where it joined forces being assembled for General Grant'sfirst attempt to take the strategic river city of Vicksburg. From this base, Grantmoved down the Mississippi Central Railroadin conjunction withGeneral William Tecumseh Sherman, who launched a simultaneous advance north of the city. Confederates attempted to defend the railroad'sTallahatchie Riverbridge nearAbbeville, but retreated when they learned of a flanking maneuver by Grant. Skirmishes were fought along the railroad toOxford, and the Confederates were pushed south pastWater Valley, but after the battle ofCoffeeville, managed to stall the Federal advance atOakland.
On December 20, while Grant was stalled,General Van Dornled a successful cavalry raid on the Union supply base atHolly Springs. After destroying the supplies, Van Dorn and GeneralNathan Bedford Forestmoved north into Tennessee tearing up railroad and telegraph lines. With his infrastructure disrupted, and with Sherman's advance turned back atChickasaw Bayou, Grant was forced to end the campaign and retire toMemphis.
At the time of Van Dorn's raid, the Wisconsin regiment was stationed in Holly Springs on guard duty. Its troops, were surprised, overwhelmed, captured, and immediatelyparoled. Consequently, their commander, Colonel Murphy, was dismissed. He was replaced byLieutenant ColonelRobbins, who was promoted toColonel.On December 28, when the regiment had moved toLa Grange, Tennessee, David McLain turned over his job as eagle bearer to Ed Homeston.
In March 1863, the regiment went toHelena, Arkansas, where it became part ofGrant's plan to cross the Mississippi south of Vicksburg. His objectives were to separate Vicksburg from Confederate units under GeneralJoseph E. Johnstonand to prevent supplies from reaching the city on theSouthern Railroad.
From Helena, the regiment went toYoung's Point, Louisiana, where they joined the second brigade of the third division of Sherman'sXV Corps, under the command ofBrigadier General Mower, who had been promoted on November 29, 1862. Here, on April 13, 1863, a promotion to Lieutenant Colonel went to MajorJohn Wayles Jefferson.He had been with the regiment since it was formed, and as the grandson ofSally Hemings, is believed to have been also a grandson ofThomas Jefferson.
On May 2, Sherman's corps crossed the river atGrand Gulfand proceeded towardRaymond, Mississippi, which theXVII Corpsunder GeneralJames B. McPhersonoccupied on May 12. Sherman bypassed Raymond and advanced onJackson, which he and McPherson took on May 14, and from which Johnston had withdrawn. After Sherman appointed Mower as military governor of Jackson, Union troops burned part of the town, destroyed numerous factories, and cut the railroad connections with Vicksburg. Grant's objectives were further consolidated when his army prevailed at thebattle of Champion Hillon May 16 and at thebattle of Big Black River Bridgeon May 17. On May 22, the regiment participated in Grant's all out assault onVicksburg. When this operation failed, Grant reluctantly settled into asiege.
On July 12, 1863, the regiment returned to Vicksburg, shortly after its surrender on July 4. Subsequently, the regiment camped in various places near Vicksburg, from which they joined several mop-up operations. During this period, in September, Ed Homeston resigned his position as eagle bearer, John Burkhardt took charge of Old Abe, and Colonel Robbins was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Jefferson. Under his command, the regiment joined McPherson's expedition toCanton, from October 14 to 20, and participated in expeditions towardPocahontas, Arkansasagainst GeneralNathan Bedford Forest. From February 3, 1864, until March 5, they took part in Sherman'sMeridian expeditionagainst an important railroad center and arsenal in Eastern Mississippi.
During the siege, the 8th Wisconsin left Vicksburg to participate in an expedition to Mechanicsburg, Mississippi, whereBenjamin Hillikerwas severely wounded on June 4, 1863. They then returned to Young's Point where they blocked Confederates from escaping westward from Vicksburg. From this encampment, Sherman despatched them as part of a force assigned to driveGeneral John G. Walker'sConfederates fromRichmond, Louisiana. This objective was accomplished by thebattle of Richmond, on June 15, after which the 8th returned to Youngs Point.
In the following letter to GovernorEdward Salomon, GeneralWilliam T. Shermansummarized the activities of the Eighth Wisconsin during the Vicksburg campaign:
Sherman was not the only general who had a high regard for the 8th Wisconsin and Old Abe. In the words of David McLain:Red River Campaign
In early 1864, many soldiers in the 8th Wisconsin became eligible for veteran furlough. However, General Sherman made a special request that they join GeneralA. J. Smith's forces who had been assigned to theRed River Campaign, along with troops from theArmy of the Gulf, under GeneralNathaniel P. Banks, and AdmiralDavid Dixon Porter'sMississippi River Squadron. After agreeing to Sherman's request, the regiment joined theRight Wing of the XVI Corps, under the command of General Mower. On March 10, 1864, the contingent began a voyage from Vicksburg down the Mississippi and up theRed RivertoSimmesport, Louisiana, where they disembarked on March 12. Two days later, Mower'scommand surprised and captured Fort DeRussy, which opened the river up toAlexandria.
After arriving there on March 16, the troops from Vicksburg settled down to wait for Banks to arrive and to assess opposing forces under GeneralRichard Taylor, who was the son ofPresident Zachary Taylor. While waiting, General Mower assembled a task force, with which he proceeded twenty five miles to Henderson's hill on Bayou Rapides. Here, he encountered Confederate defenses. After leaving a blocking force to engage the defenders at the front, he made a detour of 15 miles to get to their rear, where he arrived around midnight on the cold and rainy night of March 21. On the way, a courier from General Taylor was captured and provided thecountersign. This enabled Mower's forces, including the 8th Wisconsin, to overcome the defenses without a shot being fired. In addition to 262 prisoners, 4 guns and 400 horses were taken.
This success made it possible for Smith's army to move quickly upriver toGrand Ecore, where it prepared to support forces of General Banks, which were advancing onShreveport. On April 8, Banks was routed by Taylor at thebattle of Mansfield. This was a decisive victory, for it stopped the Union advance and turned the campaign into a general retreat.
That evening, retreating units under Banks reached Pleasant Hill nearly simultaneously with Smith'sXVIIandXVI Corps, which included the 8th Wisconsin. These reinforcements enabled the Union to win the next day'sbattle of Pleasant Hill, but Banks immediately ordered a retreat to Grand Ecore, and from there, to Alexandria. During this retreat, the regiment fought rear guard actions atNatchitoches,Monett's Ferry, andCloutierville.
On May 16, Union forces reachedMansurawhere Taylor's armyattempted to prevent them from reaching river transportation. After heavy fighting, the Confederates fell back, and the Union troops marched toward Simmesport, where Bailey was building a bridge over theAtchafalaya Riverthat would allow them to reach transport ships. On the 18th, Banks learned that Taylor’s force was deployed near Yellow Bayou and arranged for Mower to stop the Confederates. Afterseveral hours of see-saw action, the ground cover caught fire and forced both sides to retire. The next day, Smith's army embarked and reached Vicksburg on the 24th.
After Smith's forces arrived in Alexandria on April 26, they were temporarily deployed to prevent attacks duringJoseph Bailey's attempts to get Porter's squadron over the rapids there, with the aid ofBailey's Damand two small wing dams upstream. After this task was completed, Banks resumed his retreat on May 13, leaving Alexandria in flames.Return to Wisconsin
In early June 1864, General Smith ordered Mower to launch a forceful demonstration to deter interference with Mississippi river traffic nearLake Village, Arkansas. This town is named for its location onLake Chicot, an oxbow lake formed from the Mississippi. On the evening of June 5, Mower disembarked and camped near Sunnyside Landing. The next morning, as he marched along the south side of the lake, Confederates, led by GeneralColton Greene, fought adelaying action at Ditch Bayouand then withdrew. The Union troops advanced to Lake Village, camped there overnight, and the next day, boarded transports that took them to Memphis. At Ditch Bayou, the regiment lost 3 killed and 16 wounded. Christopher Darius Gorman was one of those severely wounded. He was a musician, who would often play tunes on his fife that induced Old Abe to dance and strut.
On June 19,1864, 240 reenlisted veterans left Memphis on furlough, with their eagle. They arrived at Chicago on the 21st. The next day, Flags were displayed along the streets of Madison, the bells of the city were rung, and a national salute was fired. At theCapitol, crowds of citizens assembled to greet the veterans and Old Abe. Here, they were addressed by several dignitaries, including GeneralLucius Fairchild, Colonel Jefferson andChauncey Abbott, who was a former mayor of Madison.
A few days later, on June 26, 56 veterans of Company C arrived at Eau Claire, with the eagle, and were greeted with booming cannons, martial music, patriotic songs, and an abundant feast. Citizens of Chippewa Falls, constructed a hugewigwam. Here, according to Reverend Joseph O. Barrett, who spoke at the celebration, a great feast was served to Old Abe and the soldiers on July 4, 1864. Afterwards, a procession circled through the streets, headed by a band, the eagle and the veterans.
In August 1864, the veterans and Old Abe returned from furlough to Memphis. During their absence, the regiment had been active in northern Mississippi. FollowingForrest'svictory over a large Union force atBrice's Crossroads, on June 10, 1864, Sherman vowed to track him down with forces under "two officers at Memphis who will fight all the time, A. J. Smith and J. A. Mower."A month later, Mower's four brigades overtook Forrest nearTupelo, Mississippi, repulsed a series of attacks, and inflicted hundreds of casualties, including the slight wounding of Forrest himself. On August 13, 1864, the day after Mower had been promoted to Major General, the regiment, including the returned troops, participated in another defeat of Forrest's command at Hurricane Creek, Mississippi.This was Old Abe's last battle.
PostbellumAfter Wisconsin took possession of Old Abe, state officials classified him as a “War Relic” and created an “Eagle Department” in the Capitol building, which included a two room “apartment,” a custom bathtub for the eagle, and a caretaker. Later John Hill served in this capacity.
September 16, 1864, marked the end of the three years for which original members of the 8th Wisconsin had enlisted. Consequently, the veterans headed north with the eagle, whom the regiment had agreed to give to the state of Wisconsin. On September 21, they reached Chicago, where John Burkhardt resigned as eagle bearer and turned Old Abe over to John H. Hill, who had been disabled by a wound at Corinth. He was the brother of Thomas J. Hill who had also served as eagle bearer. The next day, Hill bore the eagle into Madison at the head of 70 veterans, of which 26 were from Company C.Here, on the 26th, Captain Victor Wolf presented Old Abe to GovernorJames T. Lewis,who handed the eagle, with its perch, toQuartermaster GeneralN. F. Lund.
Old Abe became a nationally known celebrity, whose presence at events was requested by individuals and organizations from the state and the country. Old Abe appeared at the 1876Centennial ExpositioninPhiladelphia, Pennsylvaniaand the 1880Grand Army of the RepublicNational Convention. Other events were fundraisers for charities, which included: the 1865 Northwest Sanitary Fair in Illinois, Soldiers' Home Fair, Soldier's Orphan's Home, Harvey Hospital, and Ladies Aid Society of Chippewa Falls.
In February 1881, a small fire broke out in the basement of the Capitol. After Old Abe raised an alarm, the fire was quickly put out. However, the eagle inhaled a large amount of thick black smoke, and about a month later, lost strength and began to decline. On March 26 1881, in spite of the efforts of numerous doctors, Old Abe died in the arms of caretaker George Gilles.
On September 17, 1881, Old Abe’s stuffed remains were placed in a glass display case located in the rotunda of theCapitol. Four years later, Old Abe was moved, within the Capitol, from the rotunda to the G.A.R. Memorial Hall. In 1900, his remains were transferred to the new building of theState Historical Society of Wisconsin. However, pressure from veterans convinced GovernorRobert M. Lafolletteto return Old Abe to the Capitol building in 1903. That year, PresidentTheodore Rooseveltviewed the remains and expressed his pleasure at being able to see the eagle he had studied in school as a child. In 1904, Old Abe’s remains and the glass case were destroyed in afire that razed the Capitol building.
Since 1915, a replica of Old Abe has presided over theWisconsin State AssemblyChamber in the Capitol, and another is on display at theWisconsin Veterans Museumin Madison.A stone sculpture of the eagle is at the top of theCamp Randall Arch.
In 1865,Jerome Caseincorporated Old Abe into the trademark of theJ. I. Caseagricultural equipment manufacturing company ofRacine, Wisconsin. This trademark was retired in 1969.
The insignia of theU.S. Army's101st Airborne Divisionis a depiction of Old Abe. Wisconsin was the territory of the original 101st Division afterWorld War I, and the insignia's design is based on Civil War traditions of the state. The black shield derives from black hats worn by members of theIron Brigade. This was a famous Civil War unit composed of western regiments, which included three from Wisconsin, but not the 8th regiment.
Old Abe is the mascot ofEau Claire Memorial High School, whose athletic teams are known as "Old Abes", and ofRacine Case High School, whose teams are "Eagles".
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