8th Wisconsin Infantry
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.
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.
Did You Know?
On hearing the news of Vicksburg's surrender, President Lincoln declared, "The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea."