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The Last Post – Interesting Story

Map of the division of the states during the C...

Map of the division of the states during the Civil War. Blue represents Union states, including those admitted during the war; light blue represents border states; red represents Confederate states. Unshaded areas were not states before or during the Civil War. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If any of you have ever been to a military funeral in which The Last Post was played; this brings out a new meaning of it.

Here is something everyone should know. Until I read this, I didn’t know. I am not sure if this is true, nevertheless it’s a lovely story:

We have all heard the haunting song, ‘The Last Post.’ It’s the song that gives us the lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes.

But, do you know the story behind the song?  If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its humble beginnings.

Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the American Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison’s Landing in  Virginia  .  The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.

During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field.  Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention.

Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.

When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.

The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status.

His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. The Captain chose a bugler.  He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth’s uniform. This wish was granted. The haunting melody, we now know as ‘The Last Post’ used at military funerals was born.

The words are:
Day is done. Gone the sun. From the lakes   From the hills.   From the sky. All is well.   Safely rest.   God is nigh.
Fading light. Dims the sight.  And a star. Gems the sky.  Gleaming bright.   From afar.   Drawing nigh.   Falls the night.
Thanks and praise.   For our days.   Neath the sun   Neath the stars.   Neath the sky  As we go. This we know.   God is nigh

I too have felt the chills while listening to ‘The Last Post’ but I have never seen all the words to the song until now.

I didn’t even know there was more than one verse . I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn’t know if you had either so I thought I’d pass it along. I now have an even deeper respect for the song than I did before.


5 comments on “The Last Post – Interesting Story

  1. on thehomefrontandbeyond
    March 29, 2013

    very heartwrenching –thank you for sharing this — I have chills as I write this


    • Judy
      March 29, 2013

      Someone told me that we don’t have the same Last Post as the Americans that we follow the English version instead. I am not sure if this is true or not. Anyhow I thought the story was wonderful and it certainly bought a tear to my eye 🙂


      • on thehomefrontandbeyond
        March 29, 2013

        I really don’t know and it certainly does not in any way take away from your lovely but sad story


  2. dorannrule
    March 30, 2013

    The music is heart wrenching and so is the story. Thanks Judy, for sharing it.


  3. virginiallorca
    October 23, 2015

    Is that the song we call “Taps”, not its name, but the ceremony when we strike the colors (lower the flag) on military bases?


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