History of Taps

Thought you might find this somewhat interesting



any of you have ever been to a military
funeral in which taps was played;
this brings out a new meaning of it.


is something Every American should know. Until I
read this, I didn’t know, but I checked it out
and it’s true:

in the   United States  have all heard
the haunting song, ‘Taps.’ It’s the song that
gives us the lump in our throats and usually
tears in our eyes.


do you know the story behind the song?  If
not, I think you will be interested to find out
about its humble beginnings.

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.


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.

the Captain finally reached his own lines, he
discovered it was actually a Confederate
soldier, but the soldier was dead.

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.

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.

Captain had asked if he could have a group of
Army band members play a funeral dirge for his
son at the funeral.

request was turned down since the soldier was a

out of respect for the father, they did say they
could give him only one musician.


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.

wish was granted.

haunting melody, we now know as ‘Taps’ used
at military
funerals was born.

words are:

is done.
the sun.
the lakes
the hills.
the sky.
is well.
is nigh.

the sight.
a star.
the sky.
the night.

and praise.
our days.
the sun
the stars.
the sky
we go.
we know.
is nigh

Ask AP

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.

now have an even deeper respect for the song
than I did before.

Those Lost and Harmed While Serving Their

Remember Those Who Have Served And Returned; and
for those presently serving in the Armed

Iraq US Troops

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9 Responses to History of Taps

  1. Joy says:

    I wish I’d had this in this morning but better late than never. This is so good to know. Thanks Sue.

  2. Sue says:

    I never knew the words, but am glad I do now. I played Taps every Memorial Day for our local Legion Hall from 7th grade past high school, (I haven’t for a few years now) and also played for funerals. To stand next to the same men each year and be so close to the 21 gun salute that my ears would ring really gave me a sense of pride. For a long time I was the only female standing in the line and those men treated me like their own granddaugther! Always polite and gracious and giving me a pat on the back with a “job well done” when the program ended. I think this a great tradition that every military personel deserves to have. Makes me want to go dust off my trumpet!

  3. Joy says:

    Go dust it off Sue. You can play it for us.

  4. mssc54 says:

    Wow Sue you played Taps every Memorial Day?! How touching and what dedication! I too used to hear Taps in movies and such. Of course it never really touches you so deep as when it is played at grave-side as they bury your family member. It is very difficult for me to listen to Taps today… but listen I do, even through eyes filled with tears.

    Sue, you have no idea how you have touched peoples’ lives by your simple act of playing Taps. I dare say that, over the years, you have made a tremendous difference to hundreds of families.

    Please accept the deepest of grattitude and thanks from one such family member.

    I pray that your dedication and sacrifice be openly rewarded one day. That was NOT some small thing, believe me.

    • Sue says:

      Wow, thanks Michael! I always felt proud to be a part of the programs and such, but never really grasped why people appreciated it so much until I played the first funeral. And then when it’s your loved one’s funeral it really hits home. My grandpa passed away while I was in high school and my parents asked me if I’d be able to play Taps for him at the burial. My grandma decided that she didn’t want it played b/c it’d be too hard/emotional for everyone so I didn’t get to do that for him, but the following Memorial Day I did and I’ll never forget how I finally understood why everyone was so thankful to hear it. Thanks for your kind words 🙂

      • mssc54 says:

        Ya know Sue, in order to be absolutely certain that you don’t look back some day and say “I wish I would have…”

        Why don’t you brush up on your horn and go on down to visit grandpa and play Taps just for him.

        I think that wouild be something you would remember fondly for the rest of your life. 😉

      • Joy says:

        I’d go with you Sue.

  5. javajunkee says:

    sorry I missed this. I have seen it before but it’s always a nice reminder..thanks for posting it!

  6. nikki says:

    Sue I would LOVE to hear you play Taps!!!! 🙂 Thank you for posting this!

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