The 8th Wisconsin regiment had one of the most remarkable mascots in the Union Army: Old Abe, a lively eagle. Abe had been brought to war by a soldier who had traded for the bird with an Indian on the frontier, in exchange for five bushels of corn. In camp, the bird followed his master like a puppy.
In battle Abe invariably soared aloft until the shooting stopped, and then returned to the 8th Wisconsin. He feared artillery fire, and flew so high during engagements that he was almost lost to sight and had only a birds’-eye view of most battles in the Western theater. He sustained at least one wound, but survived to live for fifteen years in the Wisconsin State House, and today, a gem of the taxidermist’s art, is on display in the Wisconsin State Museum.