The history of the song "Taps"

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by Oxford, May 10, 2002.

  1. Oxford

    Oxford G&G Evangelist


    We have all heard the haunting song, "Taps." It's the song that gives us that lump in our
    throats and usually creates tears in our eyes. But, do you know the story behind the song?

    If not, I think you will be pleased to find out about it's humble beginnings. Reportedly,
    it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe
    was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on
    the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the
    moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a
    Union or Confederate soldier, Captain Ellicombe decided to risk his life and bring the
    stricken man back for medical attention.

    Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the! Captain reached the stricken soldier
    and began pulling him toward his 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 and suddenly 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 he South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy
    enlisted in the Confederate Army.

    The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give
    his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. His request was only partially
    granted. Captain Ellicombe had asked if he could have a group of Army band
    members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down
    since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they
    could give him only 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. This wish was
    granted. The haunting melody, we now know as "Taps" used at military funerals, and at
    the end of each day on US military bases was born.

    Day is done
    Gone the sun
    From the lakes
    From the hills
    From the skies
    All is well,
    Safely rest.
    God is nigh.
    Fading light
    Dims the sight
    And a star
    Gems the sky,
    Gleaming bright
    From afar,
    Drawing nigh,
    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 nigh.

    I too, have felt the chills while listening to "Taps" but I have never seen all the words
    until now. I didn't even ! know there was more than one verse. I also never knew the
    story behind the song and I didn't know if you had either so I thought I'd pass it along.
  2. A very solemn and haunting post.

    'Nuff said.

  3. Leave it to a ****yankee to come up with a depressing, melancholy song.
  4. johno

    johno Guest

    I'd heard the story behind the song before, but i'd heard it differently. The on I heard was also near harrison's landng, shortly after malvern hill. One night Gen. Dan Butterfield, a brigade commander in the 5th corps called his bugled into his tent, whistled a few notes for him, and had the bugler play them. the bugler wrote the call down on the back of an old envelope and Butterfield instructed him to play it instead of the regulation for "lights out" According to Butterfild, "the regulation call was not musical, he wanted one which would somehow express the idea of a darkening campground with tired men sugging down to a peacefull sleep, and he hoped his new call would do it."

    qupted and paragphrased from "The army of the potomac: Glory Road" Bruce Catton. pg 149

    I'm not saying your story's wrong, just a different one that i've heard.

  5. Oxford

    Oxford G&G Evangelist

    Taps correction


    Your version could be right. Mine was passed on to me without any credits for authorship. I thought it would be interesting to post the Taps story I receved in hopes of getting comments. Your comment was exactly what I was hoping for.