TAPS


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 heard the moans of a soldier who lay severly 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 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 war broke out.  Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confedrate 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.

The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army 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 death youth's uniform.  This wish was granted.  The hauting melody, we now know as "taps" used at military funerals, was born.

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

*

Fading light
Dims the light
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,
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 to the song 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.  I now have an even deeper feeling for the song.


Source: Chapter LXIX Newsletter
May 2002
Bernie Fisher Chapter
Boise, Idaho


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