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The Taps Myth

If you believe the Ellicombe story and that the Butterfield/Norton Story
is not true, here is a challenge.

If you can prove the Captain Robert Ellicombe/Confederate Son story I award you a Gold Plated, Vincent Bach Stradivarius Field Trumpet (bugle) valued at $2,000.00. This is rare instrument-one of the kind made for the US Army Band used at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington-like the one pictured below.


Proof of the existence of Captain Robert Ellicombe.

1. You’ll need his unit and pension records. Remember he has to be in the US Army at camp at Harrison’s Landing during the summer of 1862.
2. The name of the son and where he is buried.



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  1. Tapsbugler Tapsbugler Post author | January 27, 2020

    Thanks Keith!

  2. Keith Sisco Keith Sisco January 27, 2020

    Jari is abosolutley correct! This second account of ‘Taps” is completely false. While it may make for a good emotional read, it is utter nonsense.
    I played in a Civil War reneactment band that (at the time) I was principal musician. Part of the playing was also presenting histories of the music, instruments, battles, soldiers life, and I was very fond of talking about ‘Taps’. Oliver Willcox Norton and Gen. Butterfield wrote of their experiences in the Civil War. They created ‘Taps’, and it has grown to be an honored tradtion-Elliscombe has not even been shown to EVER really existed. Carry on….

  3. Jeffery Barbour Jeffery Barbour June 7, 2019

    My First Patriot Guard Mission, I heard the digital bugle. It sucked. I had not played my trumpet since the 10th grade in 1974. I was encouraged to pick it up and play again. I bought a bugle at the Endview Plantation in Newport News VA. Since I have been playing TAPS for grave dedications and memorials. I’ll play till my lungs will no longer allow it. (20+ years Fire Department related exposure). I was at the 150th at the Berkeley Plantation. A great inspiration.

  4. DON HEAD DON HEAD May 23, 2019

    It may be an excellent example of fiction, but I would suggest it does not claim to have ‘composed’ “Taps”…only that the captain discovered the ‘notes’ on a piece of paper in the boy’s pocket. Oh well, I still can’t hear it without tearing up every time!

  5. D Marshall D Marshall March 12, 2017

    My son is in marching and concert band as well as Orchestra. He plays most brass instruments to include bugle. he wants to know the significance of the cord or braid found on many of the bugles. He is also in Boy Scouts and AFROTC and wants an appropriate cord to put on his bugle. Thank you

  6. Meg Meg April 24, 2016

    Jari–hopefully we did Taps justice in Aftermath of Battle. I certainly tried!! I have had a difficult time finding a recording of Extinguish Lights. Is there other than the young lady who plays bugle on the YouTube offering, if that is even it? Thanks, Meg

  7. Ropedrum Ropedrum January 30, 2015

    For a historically accurate and fitting arrangement for performance see, “Extinguish Lights” (or Taps) on page 38 of The Bugler’s Call Book under the heading: Cavalry Calls, contained in the back of Elias Howe’s United States Regulation Drum and Fife Instructor published in 1861.

    Most assuredly “Taps” was not a Confederate music composition.

  8. Tapsbugler Tapsbugler Post author | November 13, 2014

    No one said it did….

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