When I tell people I go to Auburn, or am visiting at another school I often get the response “Oh Auburn, the War Eagles!” False. We are not the War Eagles. Sometimes this comment is made because they honest do not know. Other times it is a method to taunt.
It’s a really simple explanation: “War Eagle” is our battle cry, not a mascot OR a nickname.
Let me repeat: “War Eagle” not a mascot OR a nickname.
How did we come to find this battle cry you may be wondering? There are two legends.
The most popular story about the battle cry dates back to the first time Auburn met Georgia (whom we are playing this week) on the football field in 1892. There was a veteran of the Civil War present at the game. He had a special pet, an eagle the soldier had found on a battlefield during the war. Testimony from witnesses says that the eagle suddenly broke free and began circling the football field.
As the eagle soared the Auburn skies, Auburn began driving toward the Georgia end zone for a thrilling victory. Excited about the victory and taking the bird’s presence as an omen of success, Auburn students and fans began to yell “War Eagle” to empower the team. At the game’s end, the eagle took a sudden dive, crashed into the ground, and died. But the battle cry “War Eagle” lived on to become a symbol of the proud Auburn spirit.
Another possible and less tragic story is from the 1913 pep rally at Langdon Hall. Students had gathered the day before the Georgia game. Cheerleader Gus Graydon told the crowd, “If we are going to win this game, we’ll have to get out there and fight, because this means war.” During the hoopla, another student, E. T. Enslen, who was in his military uniform, noticed something had dropped from his hat. Bending down, he saw it was the metal emblem of an eagle that had come loose during the excitement. Someone asked him what he had found, and Enslen replied, “It’s a War Eagle!” The new cry was used by students at the game the following day.
So no matter what story you choose to believe you can now understand why our battle cry is “War Eagle” but we are the Auburn Tigers.
If you come to Auburn for a game, you’ll be sure to hear plenty of “War Eagles,” but it can even be used as a greeting or a way to acknowledge other members of the Auburn Family.