The exact origin of the bulge call Taps is open to dispute but I wish I could believe the story that a Union General wrote it on the back of an envelope during the bloody July of 1862 while he himself was wounded. The General, Daniel Adams Butterfield, called in Bugler Oliver Wilcox Norton to play his notation. The General, according to Norton, altered the rhythm slightly but left the melodic shape as he had originally penciled it. Then the General ordered that this new bugle call be played at the end of the day, replacing the customary ‘Lights Out’ (a call borrowed from the French.) The story goes on to recount that Norton was visited by other buglers who had heard ‘Taps’ and that it passed from brigade to brigade being gradually taken up through out the Army of the Potomac. This version is included on a website regarding Military Funeral Honors. That site goes on to say of Taps:
In 1874 It was officially recognized by the U.S. Army. It became standard at military funeral ceremonies in 1891.
That last bit, I believe, can be accepted as fact. The other is probably romanticized. Wiki says that ‘Taps’ is
…a variation of an earlier bugle call known as the “Scott’s Tattoo” which was used in the U.S. from 1835 until 1860.
Whatever the true details may be this year, 2012, is being marked as the 150 anniversary of ‘Taps’. You can learn more by clicking the 150 above. Click the link below to listen to a beautiful and classic rendition: