PDA

View Full Version : Church Call



Loyal Virginian
07-23-2006, 06:14 PM
Church Call: a bugle call used to summon soldiers to divine service, with some suggestion that the call may have been used to summon the opposing side to a parley.

This call is now approaching universality in its use as the final call of a reenectment battle, signaling the end of the action. This would certainly be appropriate if one side or the other were seeking a parley, such as to negotiate a temporary truce to attend to wounded. I think I may have seen it used this way once. Usually, the call is sounded and everyone is encouraged to remove his hat and observe a moment of silence while the call is sounded.

If someone knowledgeable of Civil War bugle calls were dropped into the middle of reenacting without any previous experience, I think that he would be dumbfounded by the use of "Church Call" this way. He would likely be unaware that this is the result of a cure that I believe may be worse than the disease.

Not long ago, the general practice at reenactments was to sound "Taps" at the end of the battle. This was sounded in memorium of those who actually fell in the real war, whose efforts the reenactors are seeking to portray, recreate, and remember. The reenactors would all remove hats and observe a moment of silence while "Taps" was sounded. This would be a proper use of the call, as "Taps" is frequently used as a memorial call for the fallen.

But, some persistently voiced strong objection to the practice of sounding "Taps" at the end of a reenactment battle. I think that the chief objection was that no battle would have ended that way, that it looked "silly" for all of the reenactor casualties to rise up suddenly and join in the observance (although that would seem to me a rather logical thing to do once the reenacting battle was over, and surely they would wish to join in the observance with the rest of reenactors). Someone suggested that perhaps "Church Call" should be sounded, since it might be appropriate in a lull in hostilities for one side or the other to seek a parley.

I guess that is true, one side or another might seek a parley (though I have trouble recalling many instances of that during the war), but that rarely if ever happens in our reenactments. Instead, reenactors still all stand up and remove their hats as if a memorial were being sounded rather than an invitation to parley.

If we are not going to parley after the battle (and I don't see that happening), can we either dispense with the misuse of "Church Call"--which is kind of silly--or can we return back to the use of "Taps"--which would be the appropriate call for a memorial of those who fell in battle in the Civil War?

Alternatively, we could lead all of the soldiers off to Church, and that would not necessarily be a bad thing either.

RJSamp
07-23-2006, 07:45 PM
Back when I started bugling/reenacting in 1997...the use of Taps at the end of a reenactment battle was pretty well universal....

During the American Civil War Taps was the call to Go To Sleep (and those were the original words./ditty)..... you may want people to go to divine service or parley based on Church Call....but Taps means lie down, lights out ,and go to sleep.....a stranger end to a battle reenactment than calling for a parley?.....and we often have parley's at NSA and Midwest battle reenactments....it's when the big wigs talk to each other after the battle.

although their is some indication that Taps was used at a few Funerals during the ACW.....we have more quotes that To Extinguish Lights was used at Funerals.....and more often than not Taps was not known as a bugle call during the American Civil War (the Taps are drum beats after all, meaning Silence in the camps....and didn't travel to the Trans-Mississippi/West of Louisville).

Authentically....the forces would disengage....and you might hear Cease Fire ringing out.....To the Color to reform the battalions.....maybe ask for a truce the next day to gather up the still living wounded....

we tend to use:
Cease Fire (in all three branches of service of course).
Rise Up for resurrection of the dead.
Church Call if a parley is desired
Taps if a memorial is going to held (the service two weeks after 9/11 at Greenbush, WI was particularly memorable.....may have been my finest sounding of Taps ever).
To the Color to reform the battalion.

My apologies for suggesting church call or cease fire instead of taps at battle reenactments in 1998 (you may recall that we didn't sound it after any of the big battles at G135....except for the camera (both George Rabbai and Tim Sheehan sounded it for film crews after Pickett's Charge......seperately).

my personal preference is to end the battle historically......many of the reenactments we all attend are sham battles, not reenactments of historical battles.....maybe a hats off, post war usage use of Taps as a memorial, and remembrance of their sacrifices is not such a bad idea....

Rob Weaver
07-23-2006, 07:53 PM
I actually prefer Church Call to Taps as the way to end a renenactment engagement. Although Taps is a stirring melody, it is still used as a significant part of military funerals. It seems cheapened a little when we use it, as there is inevitably some joking and clowning around that surrounds the miracle of multiple Lazaruses rising again from the ground. Church Call, with it's reputation of being used for parleys, logically works better for our purposes. We are, in a certain sense, seeking a temporary truce until we clash again, even in bloodless battle. Earlier in reenacting history, Recall was used in California to signal the dead to rise up and find their commands again. That's not bad either, considering the call and its purpose. In Revolutionary War reenacting, engagements frequently end with the drum call for "Parley". Perhaps Civil War has borrowed from this practice.

Rob Weaver
Pine River Boys
7th Wisconsin Volunteers

Loyal Virginian
07-23-2006, 08:35 PM
I can agree with either one, but not this hybrid that looks to me as silly, i.e. we sound a functional call--"Church Call"--but treat it as if it were a memorial, along with removing hats and a moment of silence.

If we are going to use "Church Call", then fine, use it for a parley, a cessation of action, but let's stop confusing it with a memorial ceremony with doffed hats and all. If it is part of a disengagement that is the concluding steps of the action, that is fine. Keep your hats on, form up, clear weapons, etc.

Or, if we are going to have the moment of silence with hats off, etc., then let's have no call or a more appropriate call. Might as well have a moment of silence for "Assembly" or "To the Color". At least at that point soldiers are supposed to be quiet and listen to their officers.

It seems to me, though, that the "ceremony" dies hard, and "Taps" may still be the more appropriate call for that. My vote, though, would be for no call other than what is used by particular units to get organized and off the field.

RJSamp
07-24-2006, 06:45 AM
. In Revolutionary War reenacting, engagements frequently end with the drum call for "Parley". Perhaps Civil War has borrowed from this practice.


No I simply noted that many commanders were riding/walking out to the middle of the battle field and talking with their counter parts on the other side....so I came up with the idea of sounding Church Call as the call to parley (at least it's that way in the Fife and Drum Manual). Haven't been to a Rev War reenactment so can't say that was the impetus for my suggestion. Eastern Buglers such as Don Hubbard locked on to my suggestion and ran with it....

We don't, in general, bow our heads to Church Call on the reenactment battlefield in the Midwest/NSA events....that's an Eastern or even Southern thing. Am getting more and more calls for Taps lately....and simply sound it if ordered to do so by the commander.

We don't (??!) have written instances of either the bugle call or fife/drum tune for church call being played after an ACW battle.....nor of Taps.

Cease Fire.
Rise Up
To the Color
clear weapons
By the Right Flank. March.

Jari
07-24-2006, 07:42 AM
I have to agree with Mr. Abernathy. At first I was of the crowd that said perhaps if we wanted to do this correctly, let’s use Church Call to signal a parley and truce and end the battle that way. Now, in recent years Church has replace Taps as the memorial call. I agree with Wayne that it is rather silly to remove hats and act as if Church Call was a memorial tribute. The “Immersion” events (non-spectator) I’ve attended used no bugle calls at the end of the battle to pay homage to those men. At Paynes Farm last October we waited until Sunday morning to hold a memorial service to honor those who fought on that ground. Names were read and hymns were played. A fitting tribute was made.

RJ, first you introduce words to bugle calls you admit that were made up by you over a few beers and then you advocated the substitution of Church Call for Taps. And they say buglers have no power. :)

So now RJ, if you are saying you made a mistake about Church Call, please start advocating Taps at the end of battles as a memorial tribute. If you end a battle, form up and use the moment to remember the sacrifices made by soldiers to their country and then by all means use Taps.

You stated: “We don't (??!) have written instances of either the bugle call or fife/drum tune for church call being played after an ACW battle.....nor of Taps.”

We know that. However, we are talking about a modern day reenactment. End of reenactment battle. End of reenactment scenario. Back to the 21st century. We honor the men of 1861.

End the misuse of Church Call. I’d be all for that.

Jari Villanueva
(Got to go to Arlington today to sound Taps)

RJSamp
07-24-2006, 09:12 AM
OK so I'll advocate Taps as a memorial tribute to those who have sacrificed so much to be sounded after all firing has ceased. Uncover, bow your heads, silence in the ranks, sound the call.

Church call to be used as the call for a conversation between two opposing parties.
that's what we've been doing in the Midwest since 1998..... We've never used Church Call for a memorial to the dead call.

At authentic minded history heavy events do what they did.....one side sounds the rally/skeedaddle and the other side sounds Halt. Cease Fire. Reform the Battalion..... disengage. No need to even sound rise up....the dead are dead (and may need to recycle to the dead company)....and the wounded go to hospital.

With the stress on experiencing some of the misery of the soldiers.....what's wrong with lying still until it's dark to kind of feel what it's like to be 'dead'? Maybe you're slowly dying instead of outright KIA.

ilfed104
07-24-2006, 06:58 PM
at the end of a reenactment battle, IMHO. Disengaging and leaving the field is more of a tribute to what they did. That's WHAT they did. They didn't stop and blow taps while everyone uncovers. And for us to do that is ridiculous. Let's end our battles in a more realistic way, defeated side leave the field, no resurrection for 10 minutes, let the victors gather the dead and line them up and take the walking wounded to the field hospital. If you want to show the spectators what a dirty business war is, then do it.

Taps blows!

Rob Weaver
07-24-2006, 09:02 PM
What about coming to "Present Arms" as the bugle call Iwhichever one) is played? Soldiers at Ft Phil Kearney uncovered while Taps was played for the burial of the soldiers killed with Fetterman (December, 1866), so there is something like period justification for that behavior. Would it be respectable to salute one another before reforming our battalions?

The idea of leaving the fallen on the field is attractive, no doubt, but the "ENDEX" is one point at which we can count heads and make sure that everybody really is alive, whole and OK.

Rob Weaver
Pine River Boys
Co I, 7th Wisconsin Volunteers

HighPrvt
07-24-2006, 10:07 PM
Hmmmph, Somebody deleted my post, what's up ?

Sgt_Pepper
07-24-2006, 11:14 PM
What's up? Your post was inflammatory and contained no useful information. If you've been paying attention, you know that we consider this place to be the same as sitting around Mr. Szabo's dinner table, and the conversation is expected to conform to his notions of propriety. If you feel you aren't willing to keep your comments polite and respectful, you are always free to leave. If you won't keep your comments polite and respectful, you will leave whether you want to or not. I hope I've made myself clear.

HighPrvt
07-25-2006, 04:31 AM
What's up? Your post was inflammatory and contained no useful information. If you've been paying attention, you know that we consider this place to be the same as sitting around Mr. Szabo's dinner table, and the conversation is expected to conform to his notions of propriety. If you feel you aren't willing to keep your comments polite and respectful, you are always free to leave. If you won't keep your comments polite and respectful, you will leave whether you want to or not. I hope I've made myself clear.
Oh jeez, I was merely responding to the statement that taps wasn't being respected with a little humor. Lighten up bro.

Sgt_Pepper
07-25-2006, 08:53 PM
I didn't find it funny. Perhaps a "smiley" emoticon would have been in order.