The Various Legends behind Auburn’s “War Eagle” Battle Cry

War Eagle pic

War Eagle
Image: auburntigers.com

An honorably retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral (RADM), David F. Baucom serves as the senior director of supply chain for Vintun LLC, in Virginia. In his free time, David Baucom is an avid supporter of Auburn Tigers football and routinely cheers for the team during its Saturday games in the fall.

Many fans and opponents of the Auburn Tigers have heard the phrase, “War Eagle!,” chanted at games. There are numerous theories as to how the cry came about, but the most popular story takes place in 1892. According to legend, a Civil War veteran was watching Auburn’s first game against Georgia alongside his pet eagle. During the game, the eagle broke free and began circling the field. While it was flying, Auburn won the game. Fans took the bird’s presence as a good omen and started yelling, “War Eagle!”

Another legend states that the chant was created in 1914 during a game against the Carlisle Indians. One of the Indians’ toughest team members was a man named Bald Eagle, and Auburn decided to focus its plays on him to tire him out. Before each play, the quarterback called out, “Bald eagle,” and the fans misheard it as, “War Eagle!”

Some also believe that “War Eagle!” came about during the team’s undefeated season in 1913. During a prep rally, the team’s head cheerleader rallied students by talking about how Auburn had to fight as if its next game was a war. As the cheerleader was talking, an eagle emblem fell off a military hat and the cheerleader shouted that it was a “War Eagle.” The phrase was adopted as a chant during the next game and Auburn won the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship.

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