Taps was written by a general in 1862 | PostIndependent.com
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Taps was written by a general in 1862

It was July 1862 when Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield summoned Pvt. Oliver Wilcox Norton, his brigade bugler, to his tent while the Army of the Potomac was in camp, according to the U.S. Army Military District of Washington.Butterfield apparently disliked the colorless “extinguish lights” call then in use and whistled a new tune, asking the bugler to sound it for him. After repeated trials, the notes were scribbled on the back of an envelope and the call was finally arranged to suit the general.”He then ordered that it should be substituted in his brigade for the regulation ‘extinguish lights,’ which was printed in ‘Tactics’ and used by the whole army,” the U.S. Army Military District of Washington Web site reports. “The next day, buglers from nearby brigades came over to the camp of Butterfield’s brigade to ask the meaning of this new call. They liked it, and copying the music, returned to their camps.”Generals of other commands heard the melodic notes and ordered that it be used throughout the Army of the Potomac for the time-honored call that came down from West Point.To this day, taps is the official call and is used throughout the U.S. Army, the National Guard and all organizations of veteran soldiers. Gen Butterfield, in composing this call and directing that it be used for “extinguish lights” in his brigade, could not have foreseen its popularity and the use for another purpose into which it would grow.Today, whenever a service member or veteran is buried with military honors throughout the United States, the ceremony is concluded by firing three volleys of musketry over the grave and sounding with the trumpet or bugle, “Put out the lights. Go to sleep…””There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate in the music of this wonderful call,” the Web site says. “Its strains are melancholy, yet full of rest and peace. Its echoes linger in the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the air.”- The Origin of Taps report from U.S. Military District of Washington PAO


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