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Posts published in “Buglers Through History”

The Taps Window

The Taps Window

There are two monuments in Virginia commemorating Taps. The first is the Taps Monument located at Berkeley Plantation in Charles City. The other is the Taps Window found at Fort Monroe located in Hampton, Virginia at Old Point Comfort, the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula.

The Taps window is located in the Chapel of the Centurion at Fort Monroe, Virginia. Fort Monroe was a US Army installation until 2011. Along with Fort Wool, Fort Monroe guarded the navigational channel between the Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads the natural roadstead at the confluence of the Elizabeth, the Nansemond and the James rivers. Surrounded by a moat, the seven-sided stone fort is the largest stone fort ever built in the United States. Built before the Civil War, it remained in Union control during the conflict. For two years after war, the former Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, was imprisoned at the fort. His first months of confinement were spent in a cell of the casemate fort walls that is now part of its Casemate Museum. In the 20th century, it housed the Coast Artillery School, and later the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) until its decommission in 2011.

Fort_Monroe_Aerial

The Chapel was the Army’s oldest wooden structure in continuous use for religious services.  It is named after the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, who was brought to Christianity by Peter. The chapel was built in 1858 and in 1875 stained glass windows were installed including some by Tiffany’s.

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For the Centennial Celebration of the chapel, Colonel Eugene Jacobs, Commander of the US Army Hospital at Fort Monroe,  designed this window to commemorate the first playing of  Taps for the burial of a soldier at Harrison Landing (present site of Berkley Plantation near Williamsburg on the James River). The window was made by R. Geissler of New York.

Colonel Jacobs had an interesting and distinguished career in the Army. You can read about him by clicking HERE 

Jacobs contacted Miss Mabel Tidball of Charleston, SC to the celebration scheduled for May 3, 1958. She was the daughter of General John C. Tidball former commander of the fort and had been born there in 1875. Unable to attend due to her age, she requested that Taps be performed for those who had “passed on” during the past century. In correspondence with her, Jacobs discovered that her father, then a Captain, had been the first to use Taps at a military funeral.
Jacobs recounted communication from Mabel Tidball, “Several days after Taps was born. a soldier in Battery A of the 2nd US Artillery died. Normally, this soldier would have been honored by having his own squad fire three rifle volleys over his grave. At that time. however. the A.O.P. (Army of the Potomac) was surrounded and closely observed by the Confederate units of Jackson, Huger, Longstreet, and A. P. Hill. Captain John C. Tidball, the Battery A Commander. and later father of Miss Mabel, thought the three rifle volleys might provoke new fighting by the Rebels. Neither side was ready to renew the battle. Captain Tidball told the bugler to “just sound Taps!” (Prelude to the Bugle Call “Raps”: Born in an Army Field Hospital on a  Civil War Battlefield) Military Medicine, Volume 143, Issue 7, July 1978, Pages 486–487

Read more about the chapel by clicking here:
The Chapel of the Centurion Ft Monroe VA Taps Window

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