Glendale "Bugler" - Taps

The Origin of "Taps"

You've probably heard "Taps" played hundreds of times before, but you may not know that it dates back 140 years to 1862 during the Civil War. According to one story that's been circulating, here's what happened:

In 1862, Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrson's Landing,Virginia, with the Confederate Army on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Capt. Ellicombe heard the moan of a soldier who lay mortally wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, he reached the soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, now dead.

The captain lit a lantern. Suddenly, he caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier - and it was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, he had enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, the heartbroken father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. The captain had asked if he could have a group of army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. Since his son was a Confederate, the request was turned down; but out of respect for the father, they said they could give him one musician. The captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform.

The wish was granted. That music was the haunting bugle melody we now know as "Taps," the same one used at all military funerals.

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Webmaster Note: Glendale put out a great internet newsletter, The Bugler. It provided interesting tips, historical information and veterans stories. We have been granted permission to reprint them here. If you are interested in other items from them or wish to visit their site, they can be found at www.paradestore.com.