Board of Dir.
Serving the Present... Remembering the Past...
Edward C. Iberger of Riverhead, NY, submitted this touching story
of how "Taps," played at military funerals, originated:
It all began in 1862, during the Civil War, when a Union Army captain,
Robert Ellicombe, was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia.
During the night, Ellicombe heard the moan of a soldier who lay mortally
wounded on the field. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the
captain reached the soldier and began pulling him back 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 caught his breath and went numb with
shock In the dim light of the lantern he saw the face of the soldier... it
was his own son! The young man had been studying music in the South when the war broke out, and without telling his father, he had enlisted in the Confederate Army. The following morning, the heartbroken father asked permission of his supervisors to give his son a full military burial,
despite the young man's enemy status. He asked if he could have a group of army band members play a dirge at the funeral. His request was refused.
Out of respect for the captain, they said they could loan him one musician.
He chose the bugler. The captain asked him to play a series of musical
notes found in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform. That music was the haunting bugle melody we now know as "Taps."
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