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Re: [G104] Re: Fwd: Fw: The History of Taps

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  • Ray Merriam
    One: I sent this to all the groups I belong to because I ve gotten that same dumb message about the History of Taps so many times over the years, including
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 25, 2009
      One: I sent this to all the groups I belong to because I've gotten that same dumb message about the "History of Taps" so many times over the years, including from many people who should know better (including some vets and historians), and if I send them to Snopes people still won't believe that it isn't true, so I went to a (arguably) more "authoritative" source.

      Two: What, you mean tankers don't deserve "Taps"???


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Russ Morgan
      To: G104@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Friday, 25 September 2009 8:52 PM
      Subject: RE: [G104] Re: Fwd: Fw: The History of Taps

      Ray, Did I miss how this fits in with G104 Sherman tanks???? Thanks Russ

      From: G104@yahoogroups.com [mailto:G104@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ray
      Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 1:47 PM
      To: WW2 File; WW2 Review; VI Corps Combat Engineers; Stuart Light Tank;
      Sherman Medium Tank; Quarterscale Armor; AAFRL
      Subject: [G104] Re: Fwd: Fw: The History of Taps

      I received another of those dumb emails with the supposedly "true story of
      Taps". Someone has a vivid imagination and has taken an old tale and turned
      it into an email message that has been making the rounds for years and
      cannot be killed. Below is the real story of TAPS, from West Point's web
      site at http://www.west-point.org/taps/Taps.html (the incorrect story is at
      the end of this message.)


      Ray Merriam
      Merriam Press
      133 Elm St Apt 3R
      Bennington VT 05201-2250 USA

      Phone: 802-447-0313
      E-mail: ray@... <mailto:ray%40merriam-press.com> or
      merriampress@... <mailto:merriampress%40comcast.net>
      Web site: http://www.merriam-press.com
      Also: http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=271532

      24 Notes That Tap Deep Emotions
      Jari A. Villanueva
      Of all the military bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or more apt to
      render emotion than the call Taps. The melody is both eloquent and haunting
      and the history of its origin is interesting and somewhat clouded in
      controversy. In the British Army, a similar call known as Last Post has been
      sounded over soldiers' graves since 1885, but the use of Taps is unique with
      the United States military, since the call is sounded at funerals,
      wreath-laying and memorial services.

      Taps began as a revision to the signal for Extinguish Lights (Lights Out) at
      the end of the day. Up until the Civil War, the infantry call for Extinguish
      Lights was the one set down in Silas Casey's (1801-1882) Tactics, which had
      been borrowed from the French. The music for Taps was adapted by Union
      General Daniel Butterfield for his brigade (Third Brigade, First Division,
      Fifth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac) in July, 1862.

      Daniel Adams Butterfield (31 October 1831-17 July 1901) was born in Utica,
      New York and graduated from Union College at Schenectady. He was the eastern
      superintendent of the American Express Company in New York when the Civil
      War broke out. Despite his lack of military experience, he rose quickly in
      rank. A Colonel in the 12th Regiment of the New York State Militia, he was
      promoted to Brigadier General and given command of a brigade of the V Corps
      of the Army of the Potomac. The 12th served in the Shenandoah Valley during
      the the Bull Run Campaign. During the Peninsular Campaign Butterfield served
      prominently when during the Battle of Gaines Mill, despite an injury, he
      seized the colors of the 83rd Pennsylvania and rallied the regiment at a
      critical time in the battle. Years later, he was awarded the Medal of Honor
      for that act of heroism.

      As the story goes, General Butterfield was not pleased with the call for
      Extinguish Lights feeling that the call was too formal to signal the days
      end and with the help of the brigade bugler, Oliver Willcox Norton, wrote
      Taps to honor his men while in camp at Harrison's Landing, Virginia,
      following the Seven Day's battle. These battles took place during the
      Peninsular Campaign of 1862. The call, sounded that night in July, 1862,
      soon spread to other units of the Union Army and was even used by the
      Confederates. Taps was made an official bugle call after the war.

      The highly romantic account of how Butterfield composed the call surfaced in
      1898 following a magazine article written that summer. The August, 1898
      issue of Century Magazine contained an article called The Trumpet in Camp
      and Battle, by Gustav Kobbe, a music historian and critic. He was writing
      about the origin of bugle calls in the Civil War and in reference to Taps,

      In speaking of our trumpet calls I purposely omitted one with which it
      seemed most appropriate to close this article, for it is the call which
      closes the soldier's day. . . . Lights Out. I have not been able to trace
      this call to any other service. If it seems probable, it was original with
      Major Seymour, he has given our army the most beautiful of all

      Kobbe was using as an authority the Army drill manual on infantry tactics
      prepared by Major General Emory Upton in 1867 (revised in 1874). The bugle
      calls in the manual were compiled by Major (later General) Truman Seymour of
      the 5th U.S. Artillery. Taps was called Extinguish Lights in these manuals
      since it was to replace the Lights Out call disliked by Butterfield. The
      title of the call was not changed until later, although other manuals
      started calling it Taps because most soldiers knew it by that name. Since
      Seymour was responsible for the music in the Army manual, Kobbe assumed that
      he had written the call. Kobbe s inability to find the origin of Extinguish
      Lights (Taps) prompted a letter from Oliver W. Norton in Chicago who claimed
      he knew how the call came about and that he was the first to perform it.

      Norton wrote:

      Chicago, August 8, 1898

      I was much interested in reading the article by Mr. Gustav Kobbe, on the
      Trumpet and Bugle Calls, in the August Century. Mr. Kobbe says that he has
      been unable to trace the origin of the call now used for Taps, or the Go to
      sleep , as it is generally called by the soldiers. As I am unable to give
      the origin of this call, I think the following statement may be of interest
      to Mr. Kobbe and your readers.. .. During the early part of the Civil War I
      was bugler at the Headquarters of Butterfield s Brigade, Morell s Division,
      Fitz-John Porter s Corp, Army of the Potomac. Up to July, 1862, the Infantry
      call for Taps was that set down in Casey s Tactics, which Mr. Kobbe says was
      borrowed from the French. One day, soon after the seven days battles on the
      Peninsular, when the Army of the Potomac was lying in camp at Harrison's
      Landing, General Daniel Butterfield, then commanding our Brigade, sent for
      me, and showing me some notes on a staff written in pencil on the back of an
      envelope, asked me to sound them on my bugle. I did this several times,
      playing the music as written. He changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes
      and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me.
      After getting it to his satisfaction, he directed me to sound that call for
      Taps thereafter in place of the regulation call. The music was beautiful on
      that still summer night, and was heard far beyond the limits of our Brigade.
      The next day I was visited by several buglers from neighboring Brigades,
      asking for copies of the music which I gladly furnished. I think no general
      order was issued from army headquarters authorizing the substitution of this
      for the regulation call, but as each brigade commander exercised his own
      discretion in such minor matters, the call was gradually taken up through
      the Army of the Potomac. I have been told that it was carried to the Western
      Armies by the 11th and 12th Corps, when they went to Chattanooga in the fall
      of 1863, and rapidly made it s way through those armies. I did not presume
      to question General Butterfield at the time, but from the manner in which
      the call was given to me, I have no doubt he composed it in his tent at
      Harrison s Landing. I think General Butterfield is living at Cold Spring,
      New York. If you think the matter of sufficient interest, and care to write
      him on the subject, I have no doubt he will confirm my statement. -Oliver W.

      The editor did write to Butterfield as suggested by Norton. In answer to the
      inquiry from the editor of the Century, General Butterfield writing from
      Gragside, Cold Spring, under the date of August 31, 1898 wrote:

      I recall, in my dim memory, the substantial truth of the statement made by
      Norton, of the 83rd Pa., about bugle calls. His letter gives the impression
      that I personally wrote the notes for the call. The facts are, that at the
      time I could sound calls on the bugle as a necessary part of military
      knowledge and instruction for an officer commanding a regiment or brigade. I
      had acquired this as a regimental commander. I had composed a call for my
      brigade, to precede any calls, indicating that such were calls, or orders,
      for my brigade alone. This was of very great use and effect on the march and
      in battle. It enabled me to cause my whole command, at times, in march,
      covering over a mile on the road, all to halt instantly, and lie down, and
      all arise and start at the same moment; to forward in line of battle,
      simultaneously, in action and charge etc. It saves fatigue. The men rather
      liked their call, and began to sing my name to it. It was three notes and a
      catch. I can not write a note of music, but have gotten my wife to write it
      from my whistling it to her, and enclose it. The men would sing , Dan, Dan,
      Dan, Butterfield, Butterfield to the notes when a call came. Later, in
      battle, or in some trying circumstances or an advance of difficulties, they
      sometimes sang, Damn, Damn, Damn, Butterfield, Butterfield.

      The call of Taps did not seem to be as smooth, melodious and musical as it
      should be, and I called in some one who could write music, and practiced a
      change in the call of Taps until I had it suit my ear, and then, as Norton
      writes, got it to my taste without being able to write music or knowing the
      technical name of any note, but, simply by ear, arranged it as Norton
      describes. I did not recall him in connection with it, but his story is
      substantially correct. Will you do me the favor to send Norton a copy of
      this letter by your typewriter? I have none. -Daniel Butterfield

      On the surface, this seems to be the true history of the origin of Taps.
      Indeed, the many articles written about Taps cite this story as the
      beginning of Butterfield's association with the call. Certainly, Butterfield
      never went out of his way to claim credit for its composition and it wasn't
      until the Century article that the origin came to light.

      There are however, significant differences in Butterfield's and Norton's
      stories. Norton says that the music given to him by Butterfield that night
      was written down on an envelope while Butterfield wrote that he could not
      read or write music! Also Butterfield's words seem to suggest that he was
      not composing a melody in Norton s presence, but actually arranging or
      revising an existing one. As a commander of a brigade, he knew of the bugle
      calls needed to relay troop commands. All officers of the time were required
      to know the calls and were expected to be able to play the bugle.
      Butterfield was no different-he could play the bugle but could not read
      music. As a colonel of the 12th N.Y. Regiment, before the war, he had
      ordered his men to be thoroughly familiar with calls and drills.

      What could account for the variation in stories? My research shows that
      Butterfield did not compose Taps but actually revised an earlier bugle call.
      This sounds blasphemous to many, but the fact is that Taps existed in an
      early version of the call Tattoo. As a signal for end of the day, armies
      have used Tattoo to signal troops to prepare them for bedtime roll call. The
      call was used to notify the soldiers to cease the evening's drinking and
      return to their garrisons. It was sounded an hour before the final call of
      the day to extinguish all fires and lights. This early version is found in
      three manuals the Winfield Scott (1786 -1866 ) manual of 1835, the Samuel
      Cooper (1798-1876) manual of 1836 and the William Gilham (1819?-1872) manual
      of 1861. This call referred to as the Scott Tattoo was in use from
      1835-1860. A second version of Tattoo came into use just before the Civil
      War and was in use throughout the war replacing the Scott Tattoo.

      The fact that Norton says that Butterfield composed Taps cannot be
      questioned. He was relaying the facts as he remembered them. His conclusion
      that Butterfield wrote Taps can be explained by the presence of the second
      Tattoo. It was most likely that the second Tattoo, followed by Extinguish
      Lights (the first eight measures of today's Tattoo), was sounded by Norton
      during the course of the war.

      It seems possible that these two calls were sounded to end the soldier's day
      on both sides during the war. It must therefore be evident that Norton did
      not know the early Tattoo or he would have immediately recognized it that
      evening in Butterfield's tent. If you review the events of that evening,
      Norton came into Butterfield's tent and played notes that were already
      written down on an envelope. Then Butterfield changed it somewhat,
      lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he
      first gave it to me. If you compare that statement while looking at the
      present day Taps, you will see that this is exactly what happened to turn
      the early (Scott) Tattoo in Taps. Butterfield as stated above, was a Colonel
      before the War and in General Order No. 1 issued by him on December 7, 1859
      had the order: The Officers and non-commissioned Officers are expected to be
      thoroughly familiar with the first thirty pages, Vol. 1, Scott's Tactics,
      and ready to answer any questions in regard to the same previous to the
      drill above ordered Scott's Tactics include the bugle calls that Butterfield
      must have known and used.

      If Butterfield was using Scott's Tactics for drills, then it is feasible
      that he would have used the calls as set in the manual. Lastly, it is hard
      to believe that Butterfield could have composed anything that July in the
      aftermath of the Seven Days battles which saw the Union Army of the Potomac
      mangled by Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Over twenty six thousand
      casualties were suffered on both sides. Butterfield had lost over 600 of his
      men on June 27th at the battle of Gaines Mill and had himself been wounded.
      In the midst of the heat, humidity, mud, mosquitoes, dysentery, typhoid and
      general wretchedness of camp life in that early July, it is hard to imagine
      being able to write anything.

      In the interest of historical accuracy, it should be noted that it is not
      General Butterfield who composed Taps, rather that he revised an earlier
      call into the present day bugle call we know as Taps. This is not meant to
      take credit away from him. It is only to put things in a correct historic
      manner. Following the Peninsular Campaign, Butterfield served at 2nd Bull
      Run, Antietam and at Marye's Heights in the Battle of Fredericksburg.
      Through political connections and his ability for administration, he became
      a Major General and served as chief of staff of the Union Army of the
      Potomac under Generals Joseph Hooker and George Meade. He was wounded at
      Gettysburg and then reassigned to the Western Theater. By war's end, he was
      breveted a brigadier general and stayed in the army after the Civil War,
      serving as superintendent of the army's recruiting service in New York City
      and colonel of the 5th Infantry. In 1870, after resigning from the military,
      Butterfield went back to work with the American Express Company. He was in
      charge of a number of special public ceremonies, including General William
      Tecumseh Sherman's funeral in 1891. Besides his association with Taps,
      Butterfield also designed the system of Corps Badges which were distinctive
      shapes of color cloth sewn on to uniforms to distinguish units.

      Butterfield died in 1901. His tomb is the most ornate in the cemetery at
      West Point despite the fact that he never attended. There is also a monument
      to Butterfield in New York City near Grant's Tomb. There is nothing on
      either monument that mentions Taps or Butterfield's association with the
      call. Taps was sounded at his funeral.

      How did it become associated with funerals? The earliest official reference
      to the mandatory use of Taps at military funeral ceremonies is found in the
      U.S. Army Infantry Drill Regulations for 1891, although it had doubtless
      been used unofficially long before that time, under its former designation
      Extinguish Lights.

      The first use of Taps at a funeral during the Peninsular Campaign in
      Virginia. Captain John C. Tidball of Battery A, 2nd Artillery ordered it
      played for the burial of a cannoneer killed in action. Since the enemy was
      close, he worried that the traditional 3 volleys would renew fighting.

      During the Peninsular Campaign in 1862, a soldier of Tidball's Battery - A
      of the 2nd Artillery - was buried at a time when the battery occupied an
      advanced position, concealed in the woods. It was unsafe to fire the
      customary three volleys over the grave on account of the proximity of the
      enemy, and it occurred to Captain Tidball that the sounding of Taps would be
      the most ceremony that would be substituted. The custom, thus originated,
      was taken up throughout the Army of the Potomac, and finally confirmed by
      orders. Colonel James A. Moss Officer's Manual Pub. George Banta Publishing
      Co. Menasha Wisconsin 1913 Elbridge Coby in Army Talk (Princeton, 1942),
      p.208 states that it was B Battery of the Third Artillery that first used
      Taps at a military funeral.

      This first sounding of Taps at a military funeral is commemorated in a
      stained glass window at The Chapel of the Centurion (The Old Post Chapel) at
      Fort Monroe, Virginia. The window, made by R. Geissler of New York and based
      on a painting by Sidney King, was dedicated in 1958 and shows a bugler and a
      flag at half staff. In that picture a drummer boy stands beside the bugler.
      The grandson of that drummer boy purchased Berkeley Plantation where
      Harrisons Landing is located. The site where Taps was born is also
      commemorated. In this case, by a monument located on the grounds of Berkeley
      Plantation. This monument to Taps was erected by the Virginia American
      Legion and dedicated on July 4, 1969. The site is also rich in history, for
      the Harrisons of Berkeley Plantation included Benjamin Harrison and William
      Henry Harrison, both presidents of the United States as well as Benjamin
      Harrison (father and Great grandfather of future presidents), a signer of
      the Declaration of Independence.

      It must be pointed out that other stories of the origin of Taps exist. A
      popular one is that of a Northern boy who was killed fighting for the south.
      His father, Robert Ellicombe a Captain in the Union Army, came upon his
      son's body on the battlefield and found the notes to Taps in a pocket of the
      dead boy's Confederate uniform. When Union General Daniel Sickles heard the
      story, he had the notes sounded at the boy's funeral. There is no evidence
      to back up the story or the existence of Captain Ellicombe. As with many
      other customs, this solemn tradition continues today. Although Butterfield
      merely revised an earlier bugle call, his role in producing those 24 notes
      gives him a place in the history of music as well as the history of war.

      As soon as Taps was sounded that night in July 1862, words were put with the
      music. The first were, "Go To Sleep, Go to Sleep." As the years went on many
      more versions were created. There are no official words to the music but
      here are some of the more popular verses:

      Day is done, gone the sun,
      From the hills, from the lake,
      From the sky.
      All is well, safely rest,
      God is nigh.

      Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
      May the soldier or sailor,
      God keep.
      On the land or the deep,
      Safe in sleep.

      Love, good night, Must thou go,
      When the day, And the night
      Need thee so?
      All is well. Speedeth all
      To their rest.

      Fades the light; And afar
      Goeth day, And the stars
      Shineth bright,
      Fare thee well; Day has gone,
      Night is on.

      Thanks and praise, For our days,
      'Neath the sun, Neath the stars,
      'Neath the sky,
      As we go, This we know,
      God is nigh.


      Jari A. Villanueva, jvmusic@... <mailto:jvmusic%40erols.com> is a
      bugler and bugle historian. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory and Kent
      State University, he was the curator of the Taps Bugle Exhibit
      http://www.arlingtoncemetery.com/tapsproj.htm at Arlington National Cemetery
      from 1999-2002. He has been a member of the United States Air Force Band
      since 1985 and is considered the country's foremost authority on the bugle
      call of Taps.

      His website, www.tapsbugler.com includes a history of Taps, performance
      information and guidelines for funerals, finding buglers for sounding calls,
      many photos of bugles and buglers, music for bugle calls, stories and myths
      about Taps, Taps at the JFK funeral, ordering his 60 page booklet on Taps
      (24 Notes That Tap Deep Emotions) and many links to bugle related sites.
      Jari is also working on book on the History of Bugle Call in the United
      States Military.

      What follows has many errors of fact as can be seen after reading the above
      account. --Ray

      TAPS: Interesting Info.

      This is interesting...I did not know this....wonder if any of you did.....

      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:

      Day is done.
      Gone the sun.
      From the lakes
      From the hills.
      From the sky.
      All is well.
      Safely rest.
      God is nigh.

      Fading light.
      Dims the sight.
      And a star.
      Gems the sky.
      Gleaming bright.
      From afar.
      Drawing nigh.

      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

      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

      send this on after a short prayer.

      this a Prayer
      wheel for our soldiers....please
      don't break it .


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