Varieties of Bugles

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Type and varieties of bugles, et. al.

Post by Pat Holscher » Wed Aug 21, 2002 12:17 pm

I had the opportunity recently to look at some US bugles. As a result, I realised that I don't know a darned thing about them. I thought it might be interesting to explore the use of bugles as a signaling instrument.

The use of the bugle in this fashion seems to have been common in about every army you can think of. When did this come about? How much variety is there amongst bugles? Is there a big difference between those of various nations? How about U.S. bugles, did they remain constant over the years?

Bugles were so common, they must have been a common feature of military life to the extent that they must have been the backround music of the pre radio era. Any good soldier commentary on this?

Pat

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Post by Anita » Sat Aug 24, 2002 8:17 am

I had the opportunity recently to look at some US bugles. As a result, I realised that I don't know a darned thing about them. I thought it might be interesting to explore the use of bugles as a signaling instrument.

The use of the bugle in this fashion seems to have been common in about every army you can think of. When did this come about? How much variety is there amongst bugles? Is there a big difference between those of various nations? How about U.S. bugles, did they remain constant over the years?

Bugles were so common, they must have been a common feature of military life to the extent that they must have been the backround music of the pre radio era. Any good soldier commentary on this?

Pat
Dear Pat:

You are right that there have been a variety of bugles used in the US military through history. A lot of the bugles and or designs for bugles came out of French, German and British styles. Likewise a lot of US bugle calls had their origin from French and British bugle calls. I have been a CW era reenactor cav bugler for four years and hardly consider myself an expert, but I will give you a brief synopsis here.
Bugles come on different keys, usually C clarions (usually French origin), Bflat bugles, G and F trumpets(which were primarily used in the cavalry). These latter horns had a higher piercing sound and are easier to play on horseback than the larger C and B flat horns which however had a big booming sound which carried further. During the Civil War, buglers used any and everything they could get their hands on, so you will see cav bugler with C and B flat horns in addition to G and F trumpet. The design for bugles has not changed too much over the last 150 years, though a lot of military trumpeters today use a valved trumpet when sounding taps as opposed to a bugle. Other countries' bugles are either the same or similar in design especially those of western Europe whose bugles we either bought or copied.

Bugles dictated the military day (and still do though they play a recording of reveille at West Point ;-(!). One could time their watch to a particular call whether it be Reveille, stable call, breakfast, drill call, sick call, tattoo, taps etc. Each service had their own calls over 40 for each branch(talk about confusing!) until Emery Upton standardized them for the US Army in 1876. So for example, CW era infantry reveille (the modern version) is very different from CW era cav reveille. Cavalry and Artillery shared a lot of calls because of the common use of horses but artillery had specific calls that related to the movement of the guns. Even the horses got to know the calls and would respond appropriately. Remember the horses "In Pursuit of Honor"?

Buglers during the CW and IW era were paid extra and each company of cavalry had two buglers and a chief bugler. So a full strength regiment of one thousand would have twenty one buglers. This seems like a lot, but remember sound only travels a short way and is affected by terrain, humidity, direction, the noise of war etc. Basically, the buglers stuck to the commanders like glue during an engagement and translated any verbal order into a call once ordered. Then the call would be relayed down the line to the other companies. Bugles and NOT drums were the signaling device of choice during combat as drums' low pitched sounds are drowned out. Only the higher pitched sound of a bugle can be heard among the din of battle. Sometimes the bugle could be used to confuse the enemy or rally your troops to save the day (there was a bugler at Chickamauga that did this and won the Medal of Honor).

For more info on CW era bugling check out Alex Garbeck and RJ Samp's website http://www.acwbugler.org. [u/] They have wonderful descriptions, midi files, ditties and a basic history on bugling during the CW era.

Anita L. Henderson

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Aug 24, 2002 10:37 am

Anita, thanks.

The more I look at it, the more I realize there was a lot more to the role of the bugle than I realized.

I wonder when the field use, as opposed to the ceremonial or parade ground use, of the bugle actually ceased?

Pat

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Post by Joseph Sullivan » Sat Aug 24, 2002 2:26 pm

Nice synopsis, Anita. FWIW. RJ Samp sometimes puts into this site, too. I have three signalling trumpets that I bought from a collection known to RJ a few years ago (shown below -- Will post better pix as soon as I can). In the back is a is a brass-fitted copper one from the late '70s. The center is a brass trumpet in F from the WBS, and in front is a brass one in G from WW1. Sure wish I could play them, and greatly enjoy hearing them when someone else does -- as did Bill McKale, the musically-gifted Director of the US CAvalry Museum recently.

<img src=''http://www.militaryhorse.org/gallery/Co ... 202002.jpg'' border=0>

(the other object in the picture is a bit from the Queens Household cavalry in London)

I have never understood why collectors pay so little attention to bugles and trumpets. They were important aspects of everyday service life and critical in battle. They figure large in veterans memories. For example, the famous Dan Butterfield call which was unit specific was played by someone many years later at a GAR gathering at a battlefield site (Gettysburg, if memory serves) and immediately brought grizzled old men from all over the site at a run or the best they could manage, with tears in their eyes.

Bugles are redolent of the cavalry. In is not for naught that Hollywood sets the mood in movies with bugle calls, from revillie, to CHARGE, to taps. I find the calls moving and compeling, and really want to learn how to play the doggoned horns myself. In addition, some of the instruments themselves are quite attractive.

Cheers

Joe

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Aug 24, 2002 8:52 pm



I have never understood why collectors pay so little attention to bugles and trumpets. They were important aspects of everyday service life and critical in battle. They figure large in veterans memories. For example, the famous Dan Butterfield call which was unit specific was played by someone many years later at a GAR gathering at a battlefield site (Gettysburg, if memory serves) and immediately brought grizzled old men from all over the site at a run or the best they could manage, with tears in their eyes.

That is a curious question, indeed, the background sound of the bugle must have been something so ingrained in servicemen to be a nearly permanent mental backround music for their recollections.

I once had the sort of odd experience of watching an infantry veteran of Vietnam start to shake a bit (as he noted) due to the multiple effect of a light rain in a tent camp, combined with its location near a very busy helicopter pad with lots of UH1 traffic. He attributed it to the combined effects of smell and sounds. I can only imagine what the bugles must have been like for the Civil War veterans; perhaps even more intense.

Pat

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Post by Anita » Sat Aug 24, 2002 10:30 pm

Anita, thanks.

The more I look at it, the more I realize there was a lot more to the role of the bugle than I realized.

I wonder when the field use, as opposed to the ceremonial or parade ground use, of the bugle actually ceased?

Pat
Dear Pat:
I know the bugle was used in the field thru WWI. I guess with the advent of machine guns, stealthy, guerillalike advancement and radios the need for bugles disappeared in the field in WWII. The exception would be aboard ship (if you can classify that as "field use")....it seems to me that would fit, especially if you are getting strafed! One of my patients told me he was his ship's bugler and this man would be a Vietnam era aged veteran. There is also a well known picture of an American GI blowing a captured Vietnamese bugle in 1968, so evidently the North Vietnamese were using it in the field during the late war. Hope this helps.

Anita L. Henderson

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Post by Anita » Sat Aug 24, 2002 10:49 pm

Nice synopsis, Anita. FWIW. RJ Samp sometimes puts into this site, too. I have three signalling trumpets that I bought from a collection known to RJ a few years ago (shown below -- Will post better pix as soon as I can). In the back is a is a brass-fitted copper one from the late '70s. The center is a brass trumpet in F from the WBS, and in front is a brass one in G from WW1. Sure wish I could play them, and greatly enjoy hearing them when someone else does -- as did Bill McKale, the musically-gifted Director of the US CAvalry Museum recently.

<img src="http://www.militaryhorse.org/gallery/Co ... 202002.jpg" border=0>

(the other object in the picture is a bit from the Queens Household cavalry in London)

I have never understood why collectors pay so little attention to bugles and trumpets. They were important aspects of everyday service life and critical in battle. They figure large in veterans memories. For example, the famous Dan Butterfield call which was unit specific was played by someone many years later at a GAR gathering at a battlefield site (Gettysburg, if memory serves) and immediately brought grizzled old men from all over the site at a run or the best they could manage, with tears in their eyes.

Bugles are redolent of the cavalry. In is not for naught that Hollywood sets the mood in movies with bugle calls, from revillie, to CHARGE, to taps. I find the calls moving and compeling, and really want to learn how to play the doggoned horns myself. In addition, some of the instruments themselves are quite attractive.

Cheers

Joe
Dear Joe:

Thanks for the compliment. Interesting collection, let me know when you get better photos on them so we can discuss them. I agree about cavalry and bugle calls being integral, though they always play Indian Wars charge during CW war movies, GRRRRR!!!!! Definitely take some lessons as you will find it alternatingly challenging and frustrating!! When you do master it though, you fill like you have accomplished something!! It ONLY took me four years to master triple tonguing which is the hallmark of cav calls from Assembly of the Buglers (modern day posttime) to To Horse, to Boots and Saddles to the General.
I think the music from any war is probably among the good memories that soldiers are more inclined to want to recall and bugling is certaining included among this.

Anita L. Henderson

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Post by Sam Cox » Fri Mar 04, 2005 7:14 pm

Which is the correct bugle for WW2 ?
Thanks
Sam

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Post by slim » Sun Mar 06, 2005 1:44 am

Sam, if you have the film 'A year on a cavalry post', there are a
couple scenes of a bugler blowing into a big megaphone mounted on a gambrel. I suppose that would show it fairly clearly & since it was fimed in '38 that may be the one used in WW11.

I know, that makes it clear as mud, right? Slim.

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Post by Joseph Sullivan » Sun Mar 06, 2005 1:04 pm

sam, if not mistaken, the bugle did not change through the 20th century. It is the standard "G" signalling trumpet, same general shape as the Boy Scout Bugle. From the mouthpiece there is a double coil of tubing before the flair begins. The coils can slide a bit for tuning. Hany are marked Horstman, but other makers/suppliers are also marked.

Note that it is not really a bugle. Bugles are conical instruments with a continuous flair. Trumpets are tubular instruments that flair at the end. I had and sold a WW2 vintage one that had olive drab paint right up to the beginning of the bell. Most are plain brass, though.

Joe

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Post by Ken Morris » Mon Mar 07, 2005 3:22 pm

Exaclty right. Cavalry used trumpets, infantry used bugles. The bugles are louder but also require more air; I can see why the trumpet was preferred for cavalry service. It definitely would have been easier to play while mounted and moving along! I see a lot of prospective Cav buglers starting out with cheap Pakistani bugles which are difficult to play (requiring a lot of wind and a tough pair of lips) and are enough to turn anyone off from being a Cav trumpeter. A beginner needs an instrument that is more forgiving and ironically would be better off buying a more expensive, easy-playing instrument from the start.

Anyway from what I understand Andrew Naumann of Wisconsin is one of the premier natural horn makers in the US (natural horn = no valves) and makes excellent reproductions of cavalry trumpets.

Ken Morris

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Sep 13, 2008 3:58 pm

I saw a very short bugle, perhaps 5" from bell to end of mount piece, recently. It was marked with a 1917 date, and noted something like "Philadelphia Depot" on the bell.

Is this a military item? I've never seen such a short bugle.
Pat

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Post by Ordnanceguy » Sat Sep 13, 2008 7:53 pm

Pat Holscher wrote:Is this a military item? I've never seen such a short bugle.
Hi Pat:

Yes, it is. That is the WW1 era US Army bugle. It is a triple twist bugle. These bugles are easily identified as they bear the contractor's name, date of manufacture, depot of inspection, and a reference to the bugle Specification No. 1152. The one in my collection was made by Wurlitzer, the organ folks.

And speaking of army bugles and buglers, whenever the subject comes up I am always reminded of the scene in "From Here to Eternity" where Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) plays Taps at Schofield Barracks just before Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Regards,
Charlie Flick

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Post by Ordnanceguy » Sat Sep 13, 2008 8:07 pm

Pat:

More from the archives. Although it is hard to see in this photo, this bugler at Fort Totten is using a Spec. 1152 bugle, I believe.

Image

And here are a couple of Army buglers, in stereo.

Image

That is all for tonight.
"Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh."

Charlie

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Sep 13, 2008 8:14 pm

Ordnanceguy wrote:
Pat Holscher wrote:Is this a military item? I've never seen such a short bugle.
Hi Pat:

Yes, it is. That is the WW1 era US Army bugle. It is a triple twist bugle. These bugles are easily identified as they bear the contractor's name, date of manufacture, depot of inspection, and a reference to the bugle Specification No. 1152. The one in my collection was made by Wurlitzer, the organ folks.
That sounds like it alright. I wish I knew more about them, as I have no idea if the asking price was the correct one or not, although having said that, not being a bugle collector, I'd likely have passed on it in any event.

Why the short size?
Ordnanceguy wrote: And speaking of army bugles and buglers, whenever the subject comes up I am always reminded of the scene in "From Here to Eternity" where Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) plays Taps at Schofield Barracks just before Pearl Harbor was attacked.
And who can forget the part of that film where he plays the "Reenlistment Blues" with just the mouthpiece?
Pat

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Post by Pat Holscher » Sat Sep 13, 2008 8:14 pm

Ordnanceguy wrote:Pat:

More from the archives. Although it is hard to see in this photo, this bugler at Fort Totten is using a Spec. 1152 bugle, I believe.

Image
That's it alright.

Also, note that the bugler is wearing the M1912 holster.
Pat

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Post by Ordnanceguy » Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:43 am

Another bugle pic, this one more relevant to the Cavalry. This soldier is a member of Troop G, 10th Cavalry and is seen at Fort Riley. As Ken informs us in his 2005 post above, this is really a "trumpet" rather than a bugle in cavalry parlance.

Regards,
Charlie Flick

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Post by vidette » Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:24 pm

About two years ago, I espied a newspaper feature artical on new bugles with programed computer chips in them, that played pre-recorded "Taps". At an internment ceremony, the pseudo-bugler simply presses a button, and fakes it (the next "reality" step is a balloon in the pseudo bugler's mouth, which the bugle inflates and deflates, timed to the tune?). The artical stated that the Army musician that recorded Taps for the computer chip, will become the first bugler ever to play Taps at his own funeral. The must beautoful rendition of Taps at sunset I ever heard; was as a youth at Episcopal Camp Kanuga in the North Carolina mountains. A seen and unseen bugler was at each end of a mountain lake. The near visible bugler began a few notes, and soon the distant, unseen bugler, echoed them. The final echoe, ...trailing off into the quiet of the night. Gone the Sun; Day, is done.....

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Post by Ordnanceguy » Wed Sep 17, 2008 8:29 pm

More on trumpets and bugles. This information comes from "Specifications for Clothing, Camp and Garrison Equipment and Clothing and Equipage Materials", dated 1889 from the Quartermaster General, US Army.

Regards,
Charlie Flick

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Image

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Post by Pat Holscher » Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:48 am

Ordnanceguy wrote:More on trumpets and bugles. This information comes from "Specifications for Clothing, Camp and Garrison Equipment and Clothing and Equipage Materials", dated 1889 from the Quartermaster General, US Army.

Regards,
Charlie Flick

Image

Image
Wow, very interesting.

I had no idea there was an extra piece that could be added like that.

For that matter, I didn't realize the Army used more than one type of bugle. Why did it use more than one type?
Pat

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