The Bugler’s Cry- The Origin of “Taps”

Music is the art which is more nigh to tears and memory”. –Oscar Wilde

2012 marks the 150th year of the bugle call, “Taps”.  If you are near the Berkeley Plantation (Harrison’s Landing, Charles City, Virginia) on June 22, 23, or 24, you can join the celebration of this moving call.

The song was written on the Berkeley Plantation in 1862 following the Seven Days’ Battle (American Civil War).  General Daniel Butterfield (Union) is our composer.  Butterfield, along with his bugler Oliver Wilcox Norton, refined a common military bugle tune that Butterfield felt did not represent the call, “all is safe” and “lights out”.  The song was adopted by Union and Confederate armies.

If you have ever been to a military funeral, you have heard “Taps”.  As the musician lifts the instrument to his mouth, we are introduced to the measured moments of the notes that ask the soul to slow and honor our colleagues.  The recognition that we have made it through another day and we are still here.  And, the final recognition that we are finite beings and some are gone from the earth.

On this Memorial Day, let us learn more about this historic tune.  Historian Jari Villanueva has put together a short film on the song and it’s history.

To learn more about the 150th year celebration, visit this site.

To learn more about the celebration on June 22, 23, and 24 at the Berkeley Plantation, visit this site.


About Christopher Hessenflow

Christopher Hessenflow is a financial planner in the Chicago area. He works with all sorts of people who are much more interesting than he is. He enjoys his career which lends him time to think and, sometimes, be creative. Chip was born bald.
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