Thursday, April 24, 2014



Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Elli was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia . The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.

touching photo

During the night, Captain Elli 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, 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.
The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral.
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 only one musician.

touching photo

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.
The 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

touching appeal to remember
imperative to pass along


Air Force brats drove me nuts growing up and still do. I think I keep tangential contact to remind me of that. The things that get passed as wisdom easily challenged but challenging them causes only discord and dissension and not improved wisdom. So be it. discord and dissension it is.

My response:

Apologies for being contrarian but I must. Does this purported history not strike you a little too precious? Just a wee bit too coincidental? Does it not hit just the right notes of irony, pathos, and emotion? And is it not suspect on that alone?

Honestly, a simple web search shows otherwise. This story is false. The real story much more mundane, less interesting. Try wikipedia, if you like. Or stick with this if you prefer.

There are other apocryphal stories of origin besides this one.

I do like this story. It appeals to me as it must to anybody. I would like to use it for a post online, but I cannot. (but I did!) I do not like being played, my emotions toyed with. Please, I urge you to check things before passing along.

I am not going to link anything for you. Do that yourself, if you like. Or not.

I notice Youtube video disallows comments on this, the one I looked at did, I'm certain the reason for that is because it would be quickly corrected.


edutcher said...

The Blonde and I were visiting the Punchbowl in HI, and there was a military funeral going on at the cemetery there.

You heard Taps across the way and it hit you.

ricpic said...

Is the story sentimental? Yeah...and so what? Saroyan, when he was criticized for being sentimental said, "It's a sentimental thing, to be human." And it is. But admitting so incurs the risk of losing ones hipster status...

rcocean said...

Yes, of course its false, but who cares? Does anyone *really* care about the TRUE STORY about a song?
Its one of those "white lies" of American history designed to make everyone feel good.

I'm reminded of:
"This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend".

rcocean said...

I'm also reminded of those old Hollywood movies about Stephen Foster, Strauss, or Gerswhin telling us how certain songs got written.

Always complete balls. But always ten times more interesting then the actual truth.

rcocean said...

And Taps is a great song. Very touching.

Trooper York said...

I thought Taps was composed by General Dan Butterfield at Shiloh after a particularly rancid plate of beans?

Trooper York said...

He was in a bitter feud with General Meade who claimed Butterfield was not nice to his black troops. General Meade was a peevish old woman who told Butterfield to blow it out his ass.

Thus a song was born.

deborah said...

Yes, Chip, this sort of thing is ubiquitous on the internet. Ugh. I especially dislike the special prayers you're asked to send on to ten people and your prayer will be answered, or some such.

Unknown said...

The Punchbowl is a well kept secret. If you visit Honolulu, don't miss it. It's amazing. The arch-shaped open-air walkway with stone mosaics showcasing all the pacific theaters of war is educational and moving. It's the perfect setting for a war memorial and a military cemetery.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chip Ahoy said...

I always hated that song starting with Boy Scouts because it meant go to bed and shut up. And it was just a chance for a 10 year old to practice his bugle. And it was always bad. Bad, bad, bad.

I turn the channel on the first note.

Dad had a military funeral at Ft. Logan and I expected a recorded taps. When a VFW guy produced a bugle, I thought, "here we go, just endure it."

It was crisp cold November morning and I believe that might have affected the instrument, but that singular rendition of taps was the most beautiful sound I ever heard. The man was expert. Each note pure. I was thrilled, and still am. I never heard taps played so clearly and penetratingly as that. Utterly beautiful. We were all dumbstruck.

I must say, I dreaded going. I've been to a lot of funerals. I've seen a lot of different styles now. But it is my own father's funeral that is the most excellent of them all. Man, those military guys sure do know how to do a funeral. It goes, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, done. No messing around whatsoever. Simply the cleanest ritual I've ever witnessed. And now I have a newfound tolerance, affection, and love for the song.

rcommal said...

They call me to tell me I have an oil leak.

(Also, separately, one of the things I miss about where I spent living a bit more than a decade and a half is that, on account of living not just a bit up from the river but also just a bit across it from Arsenal Island, is that I could hear reveille and taps every single solitary solid day.

Life really is a complex thing, y'know. Right? Innit?)

The Dude said...

Reveille at military school was invariably followed by some wag yelling "And, they're off!"

For several years I lived close enough to Fort Detrick to hear taps played every night.

Those are fond memories to me.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

He was in a bitter feud with General Meade who claimed Butterfield was not nice to his black troops. General Meade was a peevish old woman who told Butterfield to blow it out his ass.

Oh yeah.