THE STORY BEHIND "TAPS"
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. 

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 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.

 


 

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