Old Abe the War Eagle


Old Abe Oil Painting by L.A. Dow, 1905

Old Abe Oil Painting by L.A. Dow, 1905
(Wisconsin Veterans Museum Collection)

One of the most well known figures in Wisconsin from the Civil War is Old Abe, an American bald eagle who served as the mascot for the Eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He participated in over thirty battles, narrowly avoiding significant wounds on several occasions. During the war, he became a rallying point to Union troops and an anathema to Confederate soldiers, who called him the Yankee Buzzard and set bounties on him. His service to the Union resulted in widespread fame, and his life after the war reflected the esteem with which Wisconsin and other states held him. While fire ultimately took Old Abe’s life and physical remains, his legacy still remains and can be seen to this day around Wisconsin and the United States. This exhibit seeks to shed light on Old Abe’s origins, wartime service, post-war life, and the ways in which he lives on today.

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is an educational activity of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.