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On June 27, 1862 during the early days of the Civil War, soldiers of the 83d Pennsylvania Volunteers began to fall to left and right during the battle at Gaines' Mill, Virginia. At a critical moment of the battle when the flag was in peril, Brigadier General Daniel Adams Butterfield rushed forward to secure the flag and encourage the embattled troops to renewed valor. For his own valor, General Butterfield was awarded the Medal of Honor.
During the Peninsula Campaign of that same year, General Butterfield with assistance from his bugler Oliver Norton, wrote a song that became known as taps. Originally used to signal the close of day and time for the troops to put out the lights for the night, "Taps" became a soldier's salute to his fallen comrades. Today it is not only played during ceremonies to lower the flag at days end, but is used in military funerals as the final salute of the living to those who have served and passed on "into the night".
B/Gen Daniel Butterfield, MOH
Fading light dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar drawing nigh,
Falls the night.
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.
Then good night, peaceful night,
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright,
God is near, do not fear,
Friend, good night.
READ GENERAL BUTTERFIELD'S MOH CITATION
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