The Story of Old Abe, the Case Eagle

The War Eagle which the 8th Wisconsin carried through the War

| March/April 1973

(This is the story of the eagle that was later used as the emblem on the front of the Case engines-many of you would be interested in it. It was sent to us by Arthur Bowman, New Lebanon, Ohio)

Old Abe's history has been often told in poetry and prose, and his deeds recounted to thousands of interested people. Recently a history of 'Old Abe' has been published by Curran & Bowen, of Madison, Wis., from which I take some of the details of the following account:

Old Abe was captured when young by a Chippewa Indian, on the Flambeau River, Wisconsin, during the sugar-making season in 1861, when he was about the size of a full-grown hawk. His captor cut down a large pine tree, in which was the eagle's nest, and secured this one eaglet in spite of the screams and menaces of the parent birds.

The Indian afterward sold the young bird to a white man for a bushel of corn. His new owner sold him to another man in Eau Claire, Wis., for $5. Capt. Perkins was at that time raising a company of volunteers for the war, which rendezvoused at Eau Claire, and while there the eaglet was presented to him. The company brought Abe with them to Madison, Wis., in September 1861, and he was adopted by the 8th Wis. and named Old Abe.

A perch was made for him, consisting of a shield and a bundle of darts underneath and a cross-piece on top, to which the eagle was tied by a stout cord to one of his legs; and he sat on the perch and was carried by a man, detailed for that purpose, next to the colors, in Co. C.

The eagle was nearly full-grown then, and weighed 10 pounds. His beak measured two and three-quarter inches, and bent into a semi-circle, having its edges cut sharp and clean to the point, where it was as hard as steel and as sharp as a needle, and of a beautiful flint color. His neck was short and thick, the body large and symmetrical, the general color of his plumage brown with a golden tinge, and his head and neck milky white. His wings measured over six feet from tip to tip when stretched.