The story behind the military song "taps"-Fiction!

The “Taps” Military Bugle Tune Came From a Confederate Soldier Whose Body was Discovered By His Father, a Union Soldier in the Civil WarFiction!



Summary of eRumor:
A Union Captain in the Civil War named Robert Ellicombe hears the moan of a soldier in the distance one night near Harrison’s Landing in Virginia.  He decides to investigate and discovers that the solider, who is wearing a Confederate uniform, has died.  By the light of his lamp, he realizes to his surprise and horror that the dead solider is his own son.  The son had studied music in the South and without telling his father, had enlisted in the Confederate army.  The grief-stricken father requests a military burial for his son, complete with an army band.  His superiors decline, however, because his son was an enemy soldier, but give him the choice of one musician.  The caption chooses a bugler and using a short piece of music he found in his son’s uniform, the tune for “Taps” comes into being and has been used ever since for military funerals.

The Truth:

According a researcher at West Point, there is no historical evidence that anyone named Robert Ellicombe even existed in the Union army.  Master Sergeant Jari Villanueva is a part of the United States Air Force Band and is not only a historian about the tune “Taps,” but is working on an exhibit for Arlington National Cemetery about bugle calls.  Both he and Kathryn Shenkle, Historian for Arlington National Cemetery, agree that “Taps” came from Brig. General Daniel Butterfield at Harrison’s Landing in Virginia in 1862.  Sgt. Villanueva has found correspondence from both General Butterfield and a bugler which confirm the origins, although there are some minor discrepancies in their letters.   

For more information:

Sgt. Villanueva’s research

updated 07/17/12