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The Legend of Old Abe

Sleeping Bear Press  |  2006  |  40 pages

During the Civil War, it was not uncommon for Army units to have mascots to lift spirits and build loyalty among the soldiers. One of the most famous mascots was Old Abe, a remarkable eagle from Wisconsin. Named in honor of President Lincoln, the eagle became the mascot of the Eighth Regiment of the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. Old Abe was beloved by foot soldiers and officers alike. He made them laugh with his antics -- stealing chickens, shaking hands, and creating warmth amidst the harsh conditions of war. Soaring over the battlefields, he rallied his comrades through numerous skirmishes and engagements. When his exploits became larger than life and extolled throughout the country, even the Confederates knew he was a force to be reckoned with and made the bird a target!


The Battle of Corinth began with a siege of fire. The Confederate soldiers fired fast and steady, aiming at Old Abe. The battlefield quickly became a frenzy of sound and smoke as the soldiers fought. Bullets grazed Old Abe, and his piercing cries could barely be heard above the sounds of war.

In an instant, one bullet came his way, snapping the cord that tethered him to the perch carried by the eagle-bearer. Now free, Old Abe did not fly away. Instead, he flew straight into the heat of battle. With wings spread wide he soared low over his troops and toward the Confederate line, encouraging every Union soldier.
— The Legend of Old Abe


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