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Some Notes on Bugle Calls:
Reveille and Morning Camp Routine or, 
Listening to the Camp Clock

by: Chief Bugler J. Mogan

Many of you may think that the first bugle call of the day in an infantry camp was the call we know as "Reveille."  It is one of the most recognizable of calls and dates, as do many of the bugle calls and signals of the Civil War, from those first sounded in the bivouacs of Napoleonís Grande Armee. However, for those of you who thought that, please guess again.

The first bugle call in the infantry camp was just that: "First Call," otherwise known as "Assembly of Buglers." Before the rest of the camp was aroused to duty, the Adjutant would instruct the Chief or Orderly Bugler to assemble the rest of the battalionís buglers and musicians to headquarters to disseminate that dayís camp call schedule to the buglers. This call would have been sounded earlier at Brigade and Division Headquarters to have the respective subordinate command chief buglers receive the higher headquarters call schedule. At this time, an Orderly Bugler of the day might also be detailed. After instructions were given, the company buglers and musicians would return to their respective company streets to report to First Sergeant and give him the schedule. By this time, of course, the men are already aroused. It is time for the First Sergeant to have the men fall in and take the roll. It is then that "Reveille" is sounded; it is the signal for the men to fall in without arms or accoutrements so that the First Sergeant can take the roll and complete his morning report.

After the completion of roll call, the camp would become a bustle of activity with a number of calls being sounded. First, of course, would be "Breakfast," then a number of other calls normally heard in the morning: First Sergeants would be summoned to the Adjutant to bring their morning report by "First Sergeantís (or Orderly Sergeantís) Call; "Sick Call" would be sounded for men who reported sick at roll call to fall in at the Surgeonís Tent (good luck, lads!); work details would be summoned by "Fatigue (or Pioneerís) Call;" officers might be summoned to report to the battalion command (or battalion commander summoned to brigade) by "Officerís Call." All of these calls would be heard, along with the accompanying activity, prior to anyone falling into the company street with musket and accoutrements. Finally, as we approach time for company drill, "Recall" may be sounded to bring in fatigue details. Shortly before company drill, the notes of "Drill Call" would be heard, the signal for men to prepare for drill. Then, the notes of "Assembly" would be heard as the call to fall in for company drill.

As you can see, the sound of the bugleís notes are acting in camp as the chimes of a clock, telling soldiers what is to be done and when. And one whose noise never seems to stop resonating throughout the morning. The bugle was not only a vital means of communication for command and control on the line of battle, it was the voice of command within the campÖthe camp clock.

 

 

 

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