If you've ever encountered an angry chicken, you know they can be quite aggressive. But that said, the image of a hen, fighting or otherwise, is not really evocative of strength, or intimidation, or any other attributes sports teams aspire to embody. So why, then, has the University of Delaware sent their sports teams on to the courts and fields for over century under the name the Fighting Blue Hens?
It all started in 1775, when Congress commissioned the creation of a military battalion from the lower three counties along the Delaware River. Capt. John Caldwell of the second company of the resulting Delaware regiment happened to be the owner of some gamecocks, and his troops often staged cockfights to entertain themselves. His strain of particularly effective fighters, characterized by their bluish plumage, were known as the Kent County Blue Hens. The chickens' reputation for ferocity was soon matched by that of Capt. Caldwell's troops, which earned the nicknamed "Caldwell's Gamecocks."
Even after Caldwell died at Princeton in 1777 the Delaware regiment was often referred to as "The Blue Hens' Chickens" to compliment their bravery. Over a hundred years later, the University of Delaware honored the regiment by adopting the Fightin' Blue Hen as their mascot in 1911.