Tapping into “Taps”

The Wall Street Journal recounts the history of Taps, which didn’t officially enter military service as quickly as I’d thought. The power of printing in enshrining army traditions!

Once played in camp, the new call spread quickly among neighboring brigades—thanks to its tranquil theme and Butterfield’s clout. But the catchy melody did not replace “Extinguish Lights” until 1874, when military manuals were updated.

Even then, Butterfield and Norton’s melody continued to be known as “Extinguish Lights” in manuals until 1891, when “Taps” finally became its official name. “Soldiers then had always referred to the last call as ‘Taps’ because at the end of ‘Extinguish Lights’ there were three loud taps of a snare drum,” Mr. Villanueva said.

Since it took me longer to find than I expected, I’ll upload the YouTube video as a hunting trophy. Here’s the bugle call it replaced:


via Tapping into “Taps” – WSJ.com.

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