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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 was with his men near Harrison's Landing in
Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip
During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay
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 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 the war broke out. Without telling
his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.
The following morning, heart broken, 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 band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the
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 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, 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,
God is nigh.
Dims the sight
And a star
Gems the sky,
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise,
For our days,
Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.