Story Of Taps
It was July in Virginia.
The scent of the dogwood and the laurel lay
heavy on the land, while the burgeoning fruit of the
peach and the apple marked the full sway of summer.
For seven fateful days, the trees, the flowers,
yes, the very ground itself,
had shuddered under the roar of cannon.
The bark of howitzers...
and the crackling of a legion of rifles.
Now, all was silent.
The sledgehammer blows of Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall"
Jackson had mauled the Army of the Potomac,
and yet that army was not destroyed.
Seven thousand men had fallen in that dreadful week...
and the savagery of the conflict was grimly evident in
the river of wounded...that wound through the green hills.
Now, a new sound drifted in the soft evening sky.
For Colonel Dan Butterfield, a courageous and able soldier,
was also a man of music.
To honor his fallen comrades, he had composed a simple
and heartrending melody. On July second,
in the year of 1862, its strains floated over the graves
that scarred the dark Virginia earth.
It has been more than a hundred years since that sound
was born, but those notes have never died away.
Every night of the year, throughout the world, fighting men of America, From the North and the South, the East and the West,
close their eyes in sleep to its call. And in each of their
there glows a fierce surge of pride.
"Fading light...falling night...
Trumpet calls as the sun sinks in flight.
Sleep in peace, comrades dear...
God is near."
~ John Mitchum
above story is said to be NOT true...
I am told by many that the following is the true
origin of TAPS. Whichever is true, I find both
stories beautiful and heart wrenching.
ORIGIN OF TAPS
all began in 1862 during the Civil War when a Union Army
Captain, Robert Ellicombe, was with his men near
Harrison’s Landing, in Virginia. The Confederate
Army was on the other side of this narrow strip of land.
During the night Captain Ellicombe heard the moan of a
soldier who lay mortally wounded on the field. Not
knowing if it were 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 gun fire, the captain reached the
stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his own
encampment. When the captain finally reached his
own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate
soldier, but the soldier was 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. 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
heart-broken father asked permission of his superiors to
give his son a full military burial despite his enemy
His request was partially granted.
captain had asked if he could have a group of army band
members play a funeral dirge for the son at the funeral.
The request was turned down since the soldier was a
Confederate. Out of respect for the father, they
did say they could give him only one musician. The
captain chose the bugler to play a series of notes
musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the
pocket of the dead youth’s uniform.
wish was granted. That music was the haunting
bugle melody we now know as “TAPS” used in all
I pray that our Heavenly Father
may assuage the anguish of your bereavement,
and leave you only the cherished memory of the
loved and lost, and the solemn
pride that must be yours, to have laid so
costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.
~ Abraham Lincoln, November 1864 ~
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