to find out the real historical origin of "Taps", as researched by MSG Jari A. Villanueva, USAF, who has played Taps at Arlington National Cemetery.
Jari (jvmusic @ erols.com) is a bugler and bugle historian. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory and Kent State University, he was the curator of the Taps Bugle Exhibit at Arlington National Cemetery from 1999-2002. He joined as a member of the United States Air Force Band in 1985. He is considered the country's foremost authority on the bugle call Taps.
Another site, http://www.west-point.org/taps/Taps.html, which being West Point itself, is, for any site on the web (or in brick), the most official of all for the history of TAPS!
The first site does a newspaper style report of Taps while the information on the West Point Military Academy site was written by Jari himself.
"TAPS" is the song a bugler plays for a military funeral.
We have all heard the haunting melody of "Taps." It's the song that gives us that lump in our throats and usually 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 its 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, 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 was severely 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 the 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 the 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 to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain 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 denied since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him 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, which we now know as "Taps"
used at military funerals, was born
Day is done Fading light Thanks and praises
Gone the sun Dims the sight For our days
From the lakes And a star Neath the sun
From the hills Gems the sky Neath the stars
From the sky Gleaming bright Neath the sky
All is well, From afar As we go
Safely rest. Drawing nigh This we know
God is nigh. Falls the night God is nigh.
This Internet version of the TAPS story was sent to me in an e-mail (by around 5 different people over four years). It is found on other sites as well as mine.
Since the true history of the origin of TAPS is on the West Point web site: http://www.west-point.org/taps/Taps.html was written by Jari and is copyrighted (as is the other story) I put links to them from here.