The Story of Old Abe

Many years ago, a white-headed eagle was taken from its nest when only four months old, and sold to a Wisconsin farmer for a bushel of corn. The bird was very intelligent, and attracted the attention of a gentleman, who purchased and presented him to the Eighth Regiment of Wisconsin, then preparing to go to the front. The eagle was gladly received and given a place next to the regiment flag. For three years he followed the “Live Eagle Regiment,” being near its flag in thirty battles.

This majestic bird was always moved and most demonstrative at the sound of martial music. He shared all the battles of regiment, but no drop of his blood was ever sacrificed. Vainly did rebel sharpshooters aim at his dark figure, conspicuously “painted on the crimson sky;” he seemed to bear a charmed life; and his loyal comrades almost looked up to him as their leader.

He was named “Old Abe,” sworn into service, and proven to be every inch a soldier, listening to and obeying orders, noting the time most accurately, always after the first year giving heed to “attention,” insisting upon being in the thickest of the fight and when his comrades, exposed to great danger from the terrible fire of the enemy, were ordered to lay down, he would flatten himself upon the ground with them, rising when they did, and with outspread pinions soar aloft over the carnage and smoke of the battle. When the canon were pouring forth destruction and death, above the roar and thunder of the artillery rose his wild shrill, battle-cry of freedom. He was always restless before the march to the encounter, but after the smoke of the battle field had cleared he would doff his soldier-like bearing, and with wild screams of delight would manifest his job of victory; but if defeat was the result his discomfiture and deep sorrow were manifested by every movement of his stately but drooping figure. —–Adapted from M. S. Porter

This story is from The Junior Instructor Book 2 – by Beecher (Editor) United Educators (1943).