A Moving Memorial Day Column on the Origin of ‘Taps’

by Jerrold Bartholomew

Gertie Brooks, a columnist for my local paper, the Tri-City Times, has written an interesting column on the origin of ‘Taps’. I have no idea if the history is accurate, but Gertie seems a trustworthy source and the story, while astounding, explains much. ‘Taps’ apparently originates from the civil war and a story worthy of ancient tragedy:

It all began in 1862 during the Civil war when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near 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 moan of a soldier who lay mortally 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.

For the rest of the story click here.

For a variety of reasons–a relative’s health problems, the recent passing of a client–I find myself all the more appreciative of life in general. It is one blessing of working with the elderly generally that I am often reminded of life’s preciousness, and working with veterans in particular helps me to know the extent of the sacrifices our veterans have made. To all of our veterans and their families, thank you.

UPDATE: The History Channel offers a very different story on the origin of ‘Taps’ that can be found here.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: