By Peter T. Yeschenko
“Taps” is a musical piece sounded at dusk, and at funerals, particularly by the US military.
tune is also sometimes known as “Butterfield’s Lullaby”.
The tune is actually a variation of an earlier bugle call known as the “Scott’s Tattoo” which was used in the US from 1835 until 1860, and was arranged in its present form by the Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield, an American Civil War general and Medal of Honor recipient.
In July 1862 to replace a previous French bugle call used to signal “lights out”.
General Butterfield’s bugler, Oliver W. Norton, of Erie, from Pennsylvania, was the first to sound the new call.
Within months, Taps was used by both Union and Confederate forces. It was officially recognized by the United States Army in 1874.
Captain John C. Tidball, West Point, Class of 1848, started the custom of playing taps at a military funeral.
It became a standard component to US military funerals in 1891.
“Taps” is sounded nightly on military installations at non-deployed locations to indicate that it is “lights out”.
When “Taps” is sounded at a funeral, it is customary for serving members of the military or veterans to salute.
The corresponding gesture for civilians is to place the right hand over the heart.