Taps

On this day when we remember those who have fallen to keep us free I have a short history lesson. If you bear with me I believe you will find it worthy of a read. The information below was provided by Lt Colonel Lewis Kirkpatrick, (Ret) Reserve Officers Association

The history of “Taps” goes all the way back to the Civil War in 1862 when a Union Army Captain named Robert Ellicombe was near Harrison’s Landing in Virginia facing the Confederate Army accross a narrow strip of land. During the night Captain Ellicombe heard the moan of a wounded soldier from the field. He decided to get the man and bring him back for medical attention even though he didn’t know which
side the man was fighting for. Crawling on his stomach through enemy fire he reached the wounded man and pulled him back to his camp.

When he safely reached his camp he discovered it was a Confederate soldier, but the man had died. After the Captain lit a latern he turned the corpse over and at the sight of the soldiers face he caught his breath and went numb with shock. The dead enemy soldier was his son! The son had been studying music in the south when the war broke out, and without telling his father he enlisted in the Conferate Army.

The next morning the Captain went to his superiors and asked permission to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. They turned him down, but out of respect for the Captain they said he could have one musician and he chose a buglar. He asked the buglar to play a series of notes found on a piece of paper in his dead son’s uniform and the wish was granted. This music was the haunting melody we now know as “Taps” used at military funerals.

Day is done,
gone the sun,
from the lakes,
from the hills

from the sky,
all is well,
safely rest,
God is near.

Fading light,
Dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky
Gleaming bright,
From afar,
Drawing, near,
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
Neath the sun
Neath the stars
Neath the sky,
As we go,
This, we, know,
God is near.

They will not be forgetten.
Comments are always welcome.

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2 Responses to Taps

  1. Herbal says:

    Cruiser, that story is definitely a good read, but I’m afraid it’s just a story. Break the Chain and Snopes both have identical posts which claim it’s false.

    Taps most likely came from a modification to an existing bugle call, either the British Last Call or, more likely, Tatoo. West-Point.Org has a good detailed account and Arlington National Cemetery has a shorter, more concise version.

  2. cruisin2 says:

    Herbal,
    Thanks for clearing that up. I had heard of General Butterfield but ran this version without checking. It’s still a good read, it’s just not the truth.

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