Lac du Flambeau's Famous Eagle: A Civil War Legend
The most famous bird in American history came from the Waswagoning area, now known as the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation. In 1861, the Lac du Flambeau Indians were on their annual spring expedition into the maple sugar bush of the northern forests. Chief Sky, the son of Chief Thunder-of-Bees, encountered two baby eaglets way up atop the pines and took them down. As the people traveled down river they came upon the home of Dan McCann to whom they gave the baby eaglet who would one day become the famous "Old Abe."
McCann cared for the eagle until it became older and decided to present the special eagle to the Union soldiers of Wisconsin. McCann presented Old Abe to the 8th Wisconsin Regiment at Eau Claire. After accepting the eagle, the company changed their names from the Badgers to the War Eagles and Old Abe served as their mascot for many years.
As a part of the War Eagle Company, Old Abe became more famous each day and provided a great source of pride to the men of the Wisconsin 8th. Abe was carried into battle on a perch in the same way as the American Flag. He withstood battles in Wisconsin, Illinois, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. After the war ended, Old Abe traveled across the country and attended national conventions, centennial celebrations and many major events. Abe rested in his home in Madison, Wisconsin at the end of his life and actually resided in the Capitol building.
In recent years, Abe has been awarded honors by the U.S. government and military service. In 1999, the 8th of Wisconsin rededicated the Old Abe statue in Jim's Falls, WI, along with a 20-mile trail in that area in his name. This famous bird, born in the beautiful north country of Lac du Flambeau, an area still abundant in eagles, was found by Chief Sky, and then spent his life with the brave soldiers and historical leaders of the United States.