• View from Battery DeGolyer

    Vicksburg

    National Military Park Mississippi

8th Wisconsin Infantry

8th Wisconsin Infantry Regimental Marker

8th Wisconsin Infantry Regimental Marker

NPS Photo

Monument located on the south side of Union Avenue, approximately 0.1 mile west of Grant Avenue. Also, a marker designating the assault of 22 May 1863, located on Graveyard Road at the midway point between Union Avenue and Confederate Avenue. This unit was attached to Brig. Gen. Joseph A. Mower's 2d Brigade of Brig. Gen. James M. Tuttle's 3d Division, Maj. Genl's William T. Sherman's and Frederick Steele's XV Army Corps, and commanded by Col. George W. Robbins. [Refer to pages 504, 548 and 550, Volume 5 of the WPA Monumentation Survey Books.]

The 8th Wisconsin , nicknamed "The Eagle Brigade," went to war with an eagle as a mascot. Originally captured by the son of the chief of the Lake Flambeau Tribe of Chippewa Indians on the headwaters of the Chippewa River during the summer of 1861, the young bird was traded for a bushel of corn to a man named Daniel McCann, who then took the 2-month-old eagle to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. A civilian, S. M. Jeffers, purchased the eagle for $2.50, and presented it to Company C of the newly-formed 8th Wisconsin Infantry. James McGinnis was the first of six proud bearers, carrying the eagle on his perch to the left of the colors.
 
Old Abe on 8th Wisconsin Marker

"Old Abe" on 8th Wisconsin Infantry Regimental Marker

NPS Photo

The 8th, with other regiments, disembarked at Hamburg, Mississippi, in quest of Gen. Beauregard's Army and formed a line of battle at Farmington, Mississippi on 19 May 1862. The eagle flew for the first time over the battle at Farmington, with Corinth, Iuka, and then Vicksburg following. McGinnis became ill and Thomas J. Hill, from Eau Claire, was given the task of carrying the eagle. Later, when Hill was appointed to a regimental position, the job fell to David McClane from Menomonie, Wisconsin, on 18 August 1862.

Soon after the Battle of Corinth, someone in the regiment cropped the tail and wing feathers of the bird to prevent his flying away. McClane became disgusted with the treatment inflicted upon the eagle, and resigned his post on 1 November 1862, passing the duty to Edward Homaston of Eau Claire. Homaston, reared in the Green Mountains of Vermont, had watched the flights of eagles daily, and took to the eagle (now nicknamed "Old Abe") with a natural instinct. The friendship between man and bird became very strong as they thoroughly understood each other.
 
8th Wisconsin Assault Marker, 22 May 1863

8th Wisconsin Infantry Assault Marker, 22 May 1863

NPS Photo

On 26 June 1864, after 3 years of war, a remnant of Company C carrying "Old Abe" arrived at Eau Claire for a well-earned rest. Two months later the eagle returned to battle, his last conflict occurring on 18 August 1864, at Tallahatchie River, near Abbeville, Mississippi. "Old Abe" was the hero of 25 battles and as many skirmishes. Twenty-six members of Company C, 8th Wisconsin, were mustered out, and bearing "Old Abe," arrived at Madison, Wisconsin, on 22 September, where he was presented to Governor Lewis and given permanent quarters in the State Capitol.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

On hearing the news of Vicksburg's surrender, President Lincoln declared, "The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea."