Saturday, April 18, 2009

TAPS

THE STORY BEHIND "TAPS"

It all began 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 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, 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. 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 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 partially granted.

The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for the son at the funeral. That 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 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 his dead son's uniform. This wish was granted.
This music was the haunting melody we now know as "TAPS" that is used at all military funerals.

In case you are interested, these are the words to "TAPS":

Day is done
Gone the sun
From the lakes
From the hills
From the sky
All is well
Safely rest
God is nigh.


24 comments:

Grandpa-Old Soldier said...

At one time I was NCOIC of the honor guard and our task was to go around the state of Mississippi (I was stationed at Keesler in Biloxi) and perform funeral ceramonies for Military Personnel. I did quite a few of them. No matter how many, when TAPS was played, I got choked up. My own Daddy, retired Army and veteran from WWII, Korea and Vietnam had a full military funeral, and the Honor Guard (Army) did him pround. Thanks for the post. Mom.

Hammer said...

I never knew this.

Sad story but very poignant.

AirmanMom said...

grandpa...what an honor it must have been for you! Please know, my heartfelt thanks for your service to our nation!

AirmanMom said...

hammer...I thank you for stopping by. There is so much to learn of our military (past and present), it is my wis to share what I learn!

Julie said...

Makes me cry to even read the words. Thanks for reminding us about this...

Single and loving it said...

The words are beautiful. :) Thank you for sharing it with us.

Sarge Charlie said...

Day is done
Gone the sun
From the lakes
From the hills
From the sky
All is well
Safely rest
God is nigh.

some things make an old soldier tear up

Mike Golch said...

Sgt,it does not matter which service were in Taps,Brings tears to the Air Force Sgt eyes as well. great posting A.M.

Fragrant Liar said...

No doubt about it. Taps always chokes me up. I didn't know that story about where it came from though. Incredible.

coffeypot said...

Taps will always bring tears to a veteran’s eye and the melody is truly hunting, but the story you published isn’t true - according to several items I have read and SNOPES.

I hate it when someone does this to me, but truth and accuracy are important. SNOPES will not let me cut and paste, but I recommend you go there and key in TAPS.

AirmanMom said...

julie...the words always remind me of a prayer. thank you for stopping by.

AirmanMom said...

single...your words are always deeply appreciated.

AirmanMom said...

sarge...thank you!

AirmanMom said...

fl...the words are incredibly beautiful.

AirmanMom said...

coffeypot...I thank you for enlightening me. Your words are greatly appreciated! I did go to SNOPES and encourage everyone who reads this, to visit SNOPES as well. Thank you again!

AirmanMom said...

mike...it is always so very nice to read your words! Thank you!

kim-d said...

Since my husband's military honors funeral, I cannot hear "Taps" without crying. It's so sad and beautiful, but especially so when it is played for YOUR loved one.

AirmanMom said...

kim-d...oh, what that song must do to your heart.

lola said...

Arlington National Cemetery's website lists a different origin of Taps, but the story you've shared is definitely touching!

Read more here: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org/ceremonies/originoftaps.html

I live right next to Fort Myer and every week night at 11pm I hear Taps played loud and clear. It's chilling but beautiful.

AirmanMom said...

lola..thank you for sharing this site!!! How moving it must be to hear this beautiful sound!

Laura said...

Thank you so much for sharing that. My #2 Son was on Honor Guard duty for 18 months 2003-2004 and was Honor Guard Airman for one quarter during that time. All three of my sons served as an Honor Guard to one of their Grandfathers in 2003 and they all felt it was quite an honor to do so for their Grandpa. When Taps was played it was extremely moving.
Laura, A Military Mom

AirmanMom said...

laura...a very special thank you to your entire family!!! What a proud mom you must be!

proudbigsis said...

TAPS... Just the thought of it, brings me to tears. Wether I hear it in a movie, on t.v. or in personI just automatically think of the "the brave" who have served us so unselfishly and get such a prideful/thankful feeling. I unfortunately have to attend a service of a fallen Soldier this weekend and I have goosebumps already.

Jari said...

TAPS

The true story of the origin of Taps can be found at: www.tapsbugler.com

The myth you have on your site is explained at: www.tapsbugler.com/TapsMyth.html

Best Regards

Retired Arlington USAF Bugler