MILITARY TAPS

There have been a rash of e mails surfing around the World Wide Web telling a story about the origin of TAPS that is played at the end of the day referred to as "lights Out".  This is also played at military funerals.  The story that I am referring to, although touching and sad, is not true.  It varies from e mail to e mail depending on the sender.  I have actually received over the years about five different variations but all basically the same.  Here is a good rendition of it that I found on a 'Google search':

"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."
 


Again, while a good story, this is an absolute MYTH. There is no evidence to support the story, nor is there even evidence that a Captain Robert Ellicombe ever existed.

~~~~~~~~~~ 

My cousin Roger sent me the following URL that can tell the story much better than I.

http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/taps.htm

After living so many years on Air Force bases with my Air Force Officer husband I remember with pride the countless times when driving at five o'clock and "Retreat" was bugled and the flag was lowered while the National Anthem was played over a loud speaker.  The song could be heard at every corner of the base and Air Force personnel would get out of their cars and stand at attention with hats off and hands over their hearts.  This pride began with our Revolutionary War soldiers and still remains and cannot be stilled by the weak and spineless among us.
God bless our Military - They are the reason we are free and those weak and spineless have 'freedom of speech'.

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