Friday, May 23, 2014

Supernatural Friday: Myth of How Taps Came To Be and The True Story-Happy Memorial Day

Since Memorial Day will be here in 3 days, I found this myth for Supernatural Friday concerning the origin of Taps. It has been circulating the Internet.

It 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 waited on the other side of the narrow strip of land. 

Captain Ellicombe heard the moan of a soldier who lay mortally wounded on the field sometime in the night. Not knowing if it a Union or Confederate soldier, the captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. As he crawled on his stomach through the gunfire, he reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him over the ground toward his encampment. When the captain made it to his own lines, he discovered he had saved a Confederate soldier. Even more, the soldier lay dead. 

The captain lit a lantern, then caught his breath and went numb with shock. The dim glow revealed who the soldier really was. His own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out and not telling his father, he enlisted in the Confederate Army.
The following morning, the heartbroken 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 wanted a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge at the funeral. That portion of the request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate, but with respect for the father, they allowed 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 his dead son's uniform. 

This music became the haunting melody we now know as "Taps" that is used at all military funerals.

It’s a lovely tale, but not true. The true origin of Taps came out after the Seven Days battles near Richmond, Virginia, in July 1862. The wounded Commander of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, General Daniel Butterfield reworked with his bugler Oliver Wilcox Norton, another bugle call, "Scott Tattoo," to create Taps. 

Later, Colonel James A. Moss substituted playing "Taps" for the firing of three volleys over the grave of one of his soldiers. This was due to his Artillery unit being in the proximity to the enemy.

You can heard Taps being played on Youtube at

And John Wayne teling the true Taps story again:

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