Glendale "Bugler" - Taps Part II

The story of the origin of the haunting melody we know as "Taps" that was sent in our last Bugler may have been just that - a story. It is a beautiful legend but may be nothing more. One of our astute customers sent a follow-up report. His sources agree that "Taps" was first heard at Harrison's Landing in Virginia in 1862, but then the story changes. Here's the other version.

"Taps" may be attributed to Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield, Commander of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Army Corps, the Army of the Potomac, who decided his unit could use a new bugle call for particular occasions. He had been dissatisfied with the customary firing of three rifle volleys at the conclusion of burial ceremonies during battle. He also needed a way to give more meaning to the end of a soldier's day. It is possible, so this version goes, that he altered an older piece, known as "Tattoo," a French bugle call used to signal "lights out." With the help of his bugler, Oliver W. Norton of Chicago, the "Tattoo" became "Taps" in its present form. Within months, buglers in both the Union and Confederate forces were playing it. Then, as now, it is an important element in military funeral ceremonies.

This second version is not as dramatic or as moving as the first one, but here it is to set the record straight. Our thanks to LTC Troy Comer of the LaFayette High School JROTC in Georgia for sending the information to us.

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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.