Introduction: Every now and then someone will forward an article to me they have received from someone else on the internet. Occasionally, I will be sufficiently impressed with one of these that I want to share it with others even though it may have nothing to do with UNC sports. Such is the case with this one entitled
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 Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men at 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, 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 supervisors 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 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 give him only one musician.
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.
Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lakes, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, safely rest God is nigh.
I too have felt the chills while listening to "Taps", but I have never seen all the words until now. I never knew the story behind the song.
I should know when to leave something alone but I don't. In an effort to determine if the information contained in the above story is accurate, I have discovered that, while no one can say it is fictitious, neither can anyone find evidence to support its veracity. Certain things in the story are accurate. Taps was first played by a Union bugler at Harrison's Landing Va. during the Civil War. However, no military records have been found on a Captain Ellicombe. It is true that this story was widely circulated among the troops during the Civil War. It's one of those stories that is so interesting that doubts regarding its authenticity may be overlooked by some. You decide.