Taps.jpgThe playing of Taps at military funerals began in 1862, duringthe Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Elli was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia and the Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Elli heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, Captain Elli 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 Captain Elli finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.

Captain Elli lit a lantern to see the face of the soldier and discovered it was his son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out and without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the Captain Elli asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. The request was only partially granted.

Captain Elli had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral, but the request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. Out of respect for the father, they allowed him have one musician play. 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 his dead son's uniform. The haunting melody, we now know as 'Taps' used at military funerals was born.

The words are:

Day is done.
Gone the sun.
From the lakes
From the hills.
From the sky.
All is well.
Safely rest.
God is nigh.

Fading light.
Dims the sight.
And a star.
Gems the sky.
Gleaming bright.
From afar.
Drawing nigh.
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise.
For our days.
Neath the sun
Neath the stars.
Neath the sky
As we go.
This we know.
God is nigh