BUGLE CALLS AT FORT MONMOUTH

 

The sound of the bugle is heard across Fort Monmouth from early morning to late at night. Literally, the bugle regulates the soldier's day. In a bow to the modern electronic age, the calls here are recorded, then broadcast on schedule through loudspeakers located around the post.

The bugle calls we hear evolved from Continental Army contacts with the French and English armies during the Revolutionary War. These two nations have had the most effect on our present system of calls. In the early years of our nation's independence, each arm and branch of the Army developed its own set of "sound signals" - drum beats in the Infantry; bugle calls in the Cavalry and Artillery.

In 1867, General Emory Upton directed Major Truman Seymour, 5th U.S. Artillery, to prepare a definitive system of calls with the object of eliminating the confusion evident during the Civil War. Major Seymour reviewed all the calls then in use in the Army. He discarded some, revised others, and finally fashioned the set of calls which have remained in use up to the present time.

Individual calls sometimes have interesting histories and antecedents. Among those sounded on post we might consider:

Reveille: It is the same as a French call which dates from the time of the Crusades.

First Call: It bears a similarity to the French Cavalry call "La Garde a Vous."

Church Call: It is exactly the same as the French "Church Call." It predates the Seymour revisions of 1867, having been adapted from the "Sonneries de Chasseurs d'Orleans of 1845.

The late night calls of Tattoo and Taps have perhaps the most interesting stories behind them:

Tattoo originated during the Thirty Years War, 1618-1648, and in German was called "Zapfenstreich." At 9:00 P.M., as the call was sounded, all bungs (zapfen) had to be replaced in their barrels, signifying the end of nightly drinking. The provost guard then drew a chalk line (streich) across the bung so that it could not be reopened without evidence of tampering.

Tattoo is the longest U.S. Army call, consisting of twenty- eight measures. The first eight are from the French call "Extinction de Feux" and the last twenty measures are from the British "First Post" - in turn adapted from an old Neapolitan Cavalry call "Il Silencio".

Taps, as we know it today, was composed by General Daniel Butterfield in July 1862 while serving in the Union Army of the Potomac. It was used in his brigade supposedly to replace the three rifle volleys fired at military funerals. It is thought this was initially done in order to deny the Confederate forces the knowledge that burials were taking place.

In a short time, Taps replaced Tattoo as the last call of the day in Butterfield's brigade, and gradually, throughout the entire Union Army.

Major Seymour, in 1867, was evidently not aware of General Butterfield's composition. The major did not include it in his system of calls, and it was not officially adopted until 1874. Considered to be the most beautiful of calls, Taps provides a fitting close to the soldier's day, and when the time comes, to his or her final departure from the ranks.

A schedule of the calls sounded at Fort Monmouth follows:

 

FORT MONMOUTH BUGLE CALL SCHEDULE

Calls Mon. - Fri. Sat. Sun. Holiday

Reveille 0600

Mess Call 0615

First Call 0730

Assembly 0735

Church Call 0800

Church Call 0920

Church Call 1045

Recall 1125

Mess Call 1130

First Call 1255

Assembly 1300

Recall 1600

Retreat 1700 |-------1700-----------|

To the Color (while the flag is folded)

Call to Quarters 1945 1945

Study Call (School Call) 2000 2000

Tattoo 2245 |-------2245-----------|

Taps 2300 |-------2300-----------|

 

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Date Last Modified: April 13, 2011