Photo Credit: Original Glass Plate Negative from the J. Mack Moore Collection – Wisconsin Historical Society Archives
The 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry stood tall during the Civil War. The unit was raised in Eau Claire and mustered in September 13, 1861 at Camp Randall in Madison. They fought in the Western Theater seeing some vicious fighting which included the Battle of Corinth, the Vicksburg Campaign and the Battle of Nashville. By 1864 when the regiment’s soldiers had completed their three year enlistment many soldiers opted to go home. Those that reenlisted reluctantly said their good-byes. Hard as it was to part with comrades they had fought alongside, it was even more difficult to say good-bye to the most favored member of the entire regiment. The one who proved courageous, stalwart and loyal throughout their enlistment. The one who constantly raised morale and persevered through all the trials thrown at them. With sadness at their farewell these Civil War veterans, the valiant men of the 8th Wisconsin said good-bye to their friend and mascot, a bald eagle named Old Abe.
There were many regiments that had mascots during the Civil War. In fact quite a few soldiers brought pets from home when they mustered in. There are stories of dogs, a bear, badgers and even a raccoon that accompanied men into camp. Yet none of those gained the fame and outright notoriety as Old Abe. The bald eagle that accompanied the 8th Wisconsin into battle had an unequaled reputation and was known far and wide.
Early in 1861 a Native American, Agemahgewezhig, also known as Sky Chief fell a tree during the sugar making season. He didn’t realize there were two baby eagles nested in it. Once the tree was down Sky Chief saw one had died but took the other small eagle with him and cared for it.
While still young, Sky Chief sold the baby eagle to a local farmer for a bushel of corn. Daniel McCann, who purchased the bird, brought it home to his children. There the eaglet grew used to human touch and care, responding to voice commands and companionship. Yet the day came that McCann felt he couldn’t afford to feed the bird and by early autumn tried to sell him to young military minded men on their way to Eau Claire to enlist. When that didn’t work McCann went to Eau Claire himself and eventually sold the bird to a gentleman that gave the eagle to a company of men raised in the area, Company C of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.
The unnamed eagle was sworn in with the rest of the recruits and was even given a small rosette that hung on a red, white and blue ribbon and was occasionally put around the bird’s neck. As Company C, under the command of Captain Perkins marched to Camp Randall in Madison for training, crowds gathered to cheer the boys and their eagle. News of a company with a bald eagle as a mascot spread quickly and drew a lot of attention. Offers were made to buy the eagle but the captain was firm. No amount of money could purchase the mascot from the men. Continue reading
Whenever I write about researching your Civil War ancestor I’m referring to the volunteer soldier. The guy who answered the call of his president and mustered in with his state’s militia, like the Mississippi or Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.
Yet there were regular U.S. Army soldiers who fought during the Civil War and they also left a paper trail regarding their military service. Regular army soldiers’ records are archived differently than the volunteer soldier but still available for research.
Some places to start your research on your Regular Army Civil War Ancestor:
1. National Parks Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System at http://www.itd.nps.gov/
2. United States, Registers of Enlistments in the U. S. Army, 1798 – 1914
3. U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914
4. United States – Civil War Widows and Other Dependents Pension Files
5. Returns from Military Posts – http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1571
6. For a copy of your Regular Army veteran’s Pension File – National Archives http://www.archives.gov/research/military/genealogy.html
I hope these links help! Good Luck as you continue researching your Civil War ancestor.
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cindy at genealogycircle dot com if you’d like to order a signed copy. Thanks!
Also I’d love for you to sign up for my monthly tips – Civil War Research Tips here. I’ll share pointers and info to help in researching your Civil War ancestor. Please take a moment to sign up and thanks so much!
We’re all pretty busy anymore, aren’t we? Whether we work full time, part time or are retired there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done! You know what I’m saying and I’m right there with you.
I also know how valuable your spare moments are and I’m grateful you spend a few of yours here with me. If you’re a regular reader you probably already know I research Civil War soldiers, learning their stories, sharing and preserving them so they’re not lost to history.
I also write about how you can start your research on your own Civil War ancestor or continue it. I explain the how-to and whys of finding out about his military service.
I include tips on research with links, examples of research found and some history on battles, available record sets, etc.
My goal here is to help family historians learn how to uncover their ancestors Civil War experiences and document what they find to share with future generations.
Thank you for all the times you’ve stopped by and read my posts. I appreciate your spare time. I’ve recently updated my About page. Please take a look at it and I hope you’ll continue spending a few moments with me here at Genealogy Circle. It’s always nice to meet up again.
Ancestors In A Nation Divided
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Whether your ancestor fought for the Union or the Confederacy, Ancestors In A Nation Divided will help you open the doors to finding out about your Civil War ancestor’s military service.
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