In the spring of 1861, a band of hungry Chippewa came to the McCann farm and traded a young eagle for corn. The eagle became a family pet. When Company C, Eighth Wisconsin was organized at Eau Claire for Civil War duty, the disabled Dan McCann offered his eagle’s services as a mascot, feeling that “someone from the family ought to go.”
On October 12, 1861, the Eagle Regiment started for the front. In action, Old Abe spread his wings and screamed encouragement to his men. The louder the noise in battle, the louder and fiercer were his screams. The eagle served with the regiment in 42 skirmishes and battles and lost only a few feathers. After three years of service, Old Abe was formally presented to the State of Wisconsin on September 26, 1864.
A room was equipped for him in the Capitol, and a man was employed to care for him. His last public appearance occurred at the National Encampment of the G.A.R. in Milwaukee in 1880, where he and General U.S. Grant were honored, guests. After a brief illness, Old Abe died on March 28, 1881.