Auburn Family

War Eagle: Ever Wonder How it Came to Be?

Aubie the Tiger and War Eagle - many people who do not know the history behind Auburn University's mascot get confused as to which exactly, the tiger or the eagle, is the specific mascot. To clarify, Aubie the Tiger is the mascot, and "War Eagle" is the battle cry that can be heard on and off the football field. The origin of how "War Eagle" came to be is recognized in multiple stories that all have one thing in common - they are interesting. (Photo right via


first story as to how "War Eagle" came to be is referenced on Auburn University's website. Considered to be the most "popular" version, where it said in 1892 a veteran of the Civil War had found an injured eagle on the battlefield and made it his pet. The veteran brought his eagle to a football game versus Georgia. "According to witnesses, the eagle suddenly broke free and began majestically circling the playing field," as stated on Auburn's website. After winning the game, many spectators were thrilled and credited the win to the eagle. After this, many began to say "War Eagle" at football games to cheer on the Auburn Tigers. On Auburn's website, it says that at the end of the game the "eagle took a sudden dive, crashed into the ground, and died," but the cattle cry lived on.

A more in-depth history of this legend comes from, and actually involves the University of Alabama when in 1865 Ulysses S. Grant's Army began their march deeper into the South and eventually into Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Union troops assisted by some volunteers from Wisconsin marched into Tuscaloosa and burned all but seven buildings on campus. It is said that these volunteers from Wisconsin had an American bald eagle in their possession and it had become known as their mascot "Old Abe." She had been with these soldiers during the Battle of Vicksburg and then became known as "War Eagle."  Some have wondered if this led to Auburn fans taunting Alabama fans at their first meeting on the football field in 1893 by cheering "War Eagle." This is considered to be the first Iron Bowl between these intense state rivals. (Photo left via

The next version of how "War Eagle" came to be is a less known one. This legend was originated when Auburn was playing football against the Carlisle Indian team in 1914. Auburn's website states that the toughest player on the team was named Bald Eagle. The football team would charge Bald Eagle play after play, yelling his name with each one. Spectators mistook "Bald Eagle" for "War 

Eagle" and it stuck. "When Lucy Hairston scored the game-winning touchdown for Auburn, he supposedly yelled 'War Eagle,' and a new Auburn tradition was born," states Auburn's website. (Photo right via

Whether you believe the legend of "War Eagle" was derived from a Confederate soldier, a cheerleader in the early 1900s or from Bald Eagle, each one is an interesting tale. No matter where it came from it is - and forever will be - the Auburn battle cry. 

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