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
its 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 of
land. 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, Captain Ellicombe 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 he 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. Captain Ellicombe 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
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 and at the end of each day on US military
bases, 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 .
I, 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.