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A Look Back: Bugle Calls During the Civil War

9th-calv

By Jolene Hawkins

In the mid 1860s, there was a conflict brewing—states with different ideas and wants, brothers and families on both sides. Men and horses were being signed up and acquired for the many Calvary Units, and Infantries, along with some of the local men that served from this area—William Dunbar, George Barker, Henry Beaver and Charles Beebe.

Do you know just how many men, from Springville, Colden, Collins Center, Ashford, Otto and East Otto served during the Civil War?  Through letters written back home to families, hand written journals, diaries, newspaper articles and eye witness statements taken at the time, to stories from the old soldiers that made it through the war, passed down from generation to generation, the time is remembered.  With all the computers and cell phones that we have now, you can look up just about anything you want to know about during this time, and share it so others can see what you found out.  But during the 1860s, during the Civil War, when there were camps with thousands of men, how would you find out what was going on, what you needed to do?

You listened to what the bugle call was.  If the call was Reveille, it was one of the longest calls heard in camp.  Before the last note is played, the troops are to be dressed and in formation for role call and to hear the day’s event.

Maybe you heard stable call from the bugler. That would call the troops to the picket line area and to feed, hay, and groom their mount, and usually called just before or just after breakfast.  This call would be repeated in the afternoon as well.

Is that the boots and saddle call?  Time to saddle up the horses and prepare for a drill practice.

Maybe it was the dinner call. Noon mealtime was the main meal of the day, and it usually consisted of beef, potatoes, limited vegetables, soup, plus coffee and bread.  Since potatoes often spoiled, beans were the most common vegetable ration.  During the summer, the soldiers planted company gardens for fresh vegetables.

And one of the calls many of us know now is Tattoo and Taps.  That would signal the men to prepare for bed and to secure the post.  All lights in the squad rooms were to be extinguished and all loud talking and other disturbances should be discontinued with the next 15 minutes followed by Taps—end of the day and a call for lights out time to retire.

If you were in battle, the bugler was a very important person to have and the sound could be heard, so that the troops would know to swing left, or right, come about, or fire.

Would you like to know more about what happened in the Civil War?  Attend a presentation right here in Springville.

Hear speakers dressed in costume, tell of first person accounts as President Lincoln, General Grant or Eli Parker. Learn more about the medical practices during the Civil War, how the doctors set their tents up, field bags to assist the wounded, games that they would play in the camps at night and stories that would be shared around the campfire.

Learn about life during Civil War, from both sides, and all the events leading up to and that followed.  Echoes Through Time, along with Lucy Bensley Center, will  have a presentation every month, on the last Wednesday, that is free to the public. On Feb. 28, the speaker will be Steve Teeft, who will give guests the history of the 9th Calvary where one of his forefathers served.  It will be at the Lucy Bensley Center, located at 23 North Buffalo Street in Springville, at 7 p.m.  For more info, call (716) 592-0094 or email lucybensleycenter@gmail.com.

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