The call was published in musical notation in an American military manual written by Major General Winfield Scott, first published in 1835. "Taps" was composed by General Daniel Butterfield during the American Civil War, but appears to trace its deeper origin to the "Scott Tattoo". A slight modification of the last five and a quarter bars of the "Scott Tattoo" creates the call we now know as "Taps."
General Butterfield was known to have been familiar with the Scott manual and knew how to sound bugle calls. He called upon a bugler in 1862 to help him adjust the pitch and timing of notes for a new bugle call, now known simply as "Taps", and may have based it on memory of the earlier call.
The term "Scott Tattoo" was coined by Russell H. Booth in his 1977 magazine article Butterfield and "Taps" which first set forth the discovery of this earlier form of the essential Taps melody. In military manuals of the 19th century there were multiple versions of bugle calls named "Tattoo," so the term "Scott Tattoo" was needed to identify the particular version of Tattoo from which "Taps" arose. It is speculated that the "Scott Tattoo" itself may have come from earlier calls or earlier publications yet to be discovered.
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- Booth, Russell H., Butterfield and "Taps". Civil War Times, December 1977, pp. 35–39.
- Scott, Major-General Winfield, Infantry Tactics. 1835.