|Albumen print, Carte-de-visite, 1876|
With the title, date, copyright information, a facsimile of Governor H. Ludington's signature, and the statement "I hereby certify that his picture is a correct likeness of "Old Abe"...carried for three years by the 8th Wisconsin Regiment..." printed mount verso. (Fowler transferred the rights to J.O. Barrett for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.)
"Old Abe" led a storied life. He was captured as an eaglet by an Ojibwe man in 1861 and traded to a white settler, who in turn sold him ($2.50) to what became the 8th Wisconsin Infantry, where he was named "Old Abe" for the not so old Abraham Lincoln.
During the Civil War, Old Abe accompanied the 8th Wisconsin in 37 battles, including Vicksburg and Corinth, and never suffered a wound, spreading his wings and screeching at the most appropriate times. Confederate prisoners stated they "would have given more to capture the eagle of the Eighth Wisconsin, than to take a whole brigade of men."
After the war, Abe was a very popular ward of the State of Wisconsin, with his own digs in the Capitol building. Abe was presumably sent to the Centennial in Philadelphia in 1876, and this photograph sold briskly for the "Old Abe Museum of Ornithology" in the Agricultural Hall on the Centennial grounds.
Abe succumbed to the effects of smoke inhalation from an oil paint fire in the Wisconsin Capitol building in 1881, and was taxidermized (stuffed) for display. Ironically, his stuffed remains were burned up in a major fire at the Capitol in 1904. All that remains today is his photographic legacy, and a few feathers.