Old Abe

© Photographed June 4, 2017
Park Falls, Price County, Wisconsin
45° 55.869′ N, 90° 27.136′ W
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In the spring of 1861 Old Abe was captured by a young Indian brave known as Chief Sky. Old Abe became the mascot and vanguard of Company C of the 8th  Wisconsin Infantry during the Civil War.

The young Indian said he caught the eagle on the North Fork of the Flambeau River, the largest tributary of the Chippewa River about 125 miles from Eau Claire, and 70 miles from the mouth of the Flambeau. From all descriptions and sketch maps the eagle must have been found in or near Township 40 North, Range 1 East.

Donald Boy, an early official of the Northern States Power Company of Eau Claire, who studied early maps and descriptions, has ventured the opinion that the rapids near which the eagle was captured were Shultz Rapids in the extreme southern part of Ashland County. In as much as early survey maps show this as water, and the county line between Ashland and Price Counties lies just here, and as much as the eagle was taken on the south bank of the river, it could well be that Old Abe was the first figure of renown from Price County.

It would be impossible to designate the exact spot where the eagle was found as the stretch of rough water designated as Shultz Rapids is nearly 2 miles long. A map does show the eagle to have been captured on the south side of the Flambeau River, but just how far back from the rapids we do not know.

The young Indian kept the eagle for several weeks. Then he took the eagle down river and sold it for a half bushel of corn to Daniel McCann, who had a farm and stopping place on the Chippewa River.

In August of 1881, McCann sold the eagle to S. M. Meffers who presented it to Company C of the 9th Wisconsin Infantry. The men of the Company named him "Old Abe" for their Commander-in-Chief, President Lincoln.

Old Abe was carried into battle on a special standard which was carried just to the left of the colors. An Army nurse credited Old Abe with taking part in 22 battles and 30 skirmishes -- being wounded 3 times in the process.

He learned commands and led the men who loved him into battle. His courage and daring were a constant inspiration. At the Battle of Corinthe, Confederate General Price, (sic) ordered his men to take him if they could not kill him, adding that "he would rather capture the bird than the whole brigade." Old Abe is not a legend. He was real, he was a vital influence, and he was a good eagle.
The marker is located at the Old Abe Veterans Memorial, on the grounds of the Park Falls Chamber of Commerce, and is accessible from southbound South 4th Avenue, at its intersection with 4th Street South, at or near 400 4th Street South, Park Falls, Wisconsin 54552.

Old Abe the Screaming War Eagle of the Wisconsin 8th Infanty, before 1881
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The other side . . .

With the Park Falls Chamber of Commerce building
visible to the right . . .

Looking north, with South 4th Avenue /
Wisconsin Highway 13 visible to the right.

Old Abe is located in Park Falls, Wisconsin.

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