Today I Found Out | 3/28/2014 | Melissa
elio25 (Posted by) Level 3
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M. Havens asks: Where did the Taps song come from that is played during military funerals?

Since 1862, “Taps” has played at military funerals to honor the sacrifice of fallen service members. Originally, however, it was intended to send soldiers off to a less permanent sleep.

Civil - War - Union - Buglers - Lights

During the Civil War, Union buglers signaled “lights out” to their comrades with a tune called “Extinguish Lights,” which was actually borrowed from an 1809 French bugle call (which also happened to be Napoleon’s favorite).

Finding the song too formal, in July 1862 Union Army General Daniel Butterfield (Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac) decided to find a more appealing tune to end the day. During a respite while his brigade was camping at Harrison’s Landing after the Seven Days Battles of the Peninsular Campaign, Butterfield worked on the new tune.

Collaboration - Bugler - Oliver - Wilcox - Norton

In collaboration with his bugler, Oliver Wilcox Norton, the two rearranged an earlier bugle call, “Scott Tattoo,” into the 24 notes of “Taps.” According to Norton:

General Daniel Butterfield . . . 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.

Purpose - Lyrics - Song - Lights - Lights

In keeping with its initial purpose, the first, and informal, lyrics to the song were simply: “Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Put out the lights. Put out the lights. Put out the lights.”

Norton later recalled the first time he played “Taps” at lights out in July 1862,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Today I Found Out
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