The mystery surrounding the origin of Auburn University’s battle cry, “War Eagle,” abounds more each year as increasingly more fans proclaim they know the accurate “War Eagle” story.
Many people outside of Auburn University simply think Auburn has two mascots: the tiger and the war eagle. Let us not be confused. We are the Auburn Tigers and our battle cry is, “War Eagle.”
Caroline Catchpole, a sophomore in pre-medicine and a passionate Auburn fan states, “We don’t have an eagle and a tiger. The War Eagle is a game day symbol of our war cry and Auburn tradition. Aubie the tiger is our mascot and the representative of our university.”
Auburn University’s website states that the most popular version of the “War Eagle” story dates back to 1892 when Auburn and Georgia met for the first time on the football field. The story tells of a Civil War veteran and his pet eagle he had found on a battlefield and rescued. During the game, the eagle soared into the sky over their field as the Auburn football team simultaneously charged the Georgia end zone and achieved their first, exhilarating win over Georgia. After the Tigers’ victory, the eagle suddenly nose-dived, crashed into the field and died. But the “War Eagle” lived on in the hearts and spirits of proud Auburn fans everywhere. But if you were to walk down the bustling concourse and manage to stop a student dashing to class you might find a different answer.
Catchpole was stopped and asked which “War Eagle” story she was most familiar with. She replied, “The most common version of the ‘War Eagle’ story that I’ve always heard is that a professor discovered an eagle off the field of battle, brought the bird back with him when he returned and the professor and the eagle became a well-known sight around campus. During a game, in which Auburn was losing, the eagle took flight around the stadium and the students, recognizing the bird, began to chant, ‘War Eagle.’ This spurred the team onto victory and ‘War Eagle’ became the Auburn University war cry.”
Several other versions of the “War Eagle” story are even vastly different. Some say “War Eagle” originated from when Auburn played the Carlisle Indians in 1914 and had to overcome their beastly tackle, named Bald Eagle, so they chanted “War Eagle.”
Others believe “War Eagle” started from the Plains Indians folklore of how they wore the “War Eagle’s” golden feathers for good luck on their war bonnets.
Will we ever know the truth? Even if we do not ever find a clear answer, the mystery of the “War Eagle” origin is just another thing that makes being an Auburn fan so exciting. So wherever you go and whatever you do, don’t forget to give an Auburn shout out of “War Eagle!”