THE STORY BEHIND "TAPS"
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.
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.
God is nigh.
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