Army Bugle Call: The Different Types

The bugle has been one of the military’s most used tools for years. While there are those who think that the Army bugle is outdated and could be done away with, the majority disagree with the side of tradition of Army bugle calls. I really doubt the Army bugle call will ever leave, and in today’s post, we are going to take a look at the different types of Army bugle calls. But first, let’s take a look at the history of the Army bugle call.

Army Bugle Call History

Even before there was a United States Army, armed forces of other countries used the bugle to communicate. The reason for this was the bugle could be used to communicate to soldiers and officers over long distances, and even in noisy environments such as war will cause.

The bugle is a simple instrument made of brass. It has a loop to the mouthpiece, and the bell that releases the sound faces away from the individual. The sound of a bugle can be compared to a trumpet, but the bugle has no valves. The keys are made via the one who is playing the instrument.

One of the first known uses of a bugle by an Army is documented in the Bible. For those who don’t know it, in the Old Testament, Joshua was ordered to march his Army around the walls of Jericho, and to blow the “trumpets,” which were actually bugles. To make a long story short, the walls of Jericho tumbled down, and Joshua’s Army took the city.

Armies everywhere have used bugle calls to bring formations, to yell retreat or charge, to call for meals, and much more. The United States Army uses bugle calls each, and every day to call troops to certain tasks, missions or other things.

Are you completely aware of every bugle call? If one were to play, would you know what you are supposed to do? I am going to go through the different types of bugle calls. While I am not putting the music here, I suggest that if there are any you do not know, you should simply search it out and learn it. I will also attempt to put links to samples of each bugle call.

Bugle Call Sequences

Each day has a prescribed set of bugle calls. Sundays have their own set. There are also formation bugle calls. I will go through the formations first, and then the daily bugle calls. Some of the calls are optional, and I will notate that in parenthesis after each call. The first instance of a bugle call will be a link to the music and an example.

Guard Mount Formation

  1. First Call

  2. Guard Mounting

  3. Assembly

  4. Adjutant’s Call

Retreat Formation

  1. First Call

  2. Assembly

  3. Adjutant’s Call

  4. Retreat

  5. To The Color

Daily: Monday Through Saturday

  1. First Call

  2. Reveille

  3. Assembly

  4. Morning Mess Call

  5. Sick Call (optional)

  6. Drill Call (optional)

  7. Assembly

  8. First Sergeant’s Call (optional)

  9. Officer’s Call (optional)

  10. Recall (optional)

  11. Mail Call

  12. Noon Mess Call

  13. Drill Call (optional)

  14. Assembly

  15. Recall (optional)


  1. First Call

  2. Reveille

  3. Assembly

  4. Morning Mess Call

  5. Church Call

  6. Assembly

  7. Noon Mess Call

  8. First Call

  9. Assembly

  10. Retreat

  11. To The Color

Every Evening

  1. Evening Mess Call

  2. Tattoo

  3. Call To Quarters

  4. Taps

Some Made Up and Funny Wording For Army Bugle Calls

I have always loved some of the made up words that go with some of these bugle calls. A hilarious one for Reveille goes like this:

I can’t get them up

I can’t get ’em up

I can’t get them up this morning

I can’t get ’em up

I can’t get them up

I can’t get ’em up at all

The Corporals are worse than the Privates,

The Sergeants are worse than the Corporals

Lieutenants are worse than the Sergeants

And Captains are the worst of all.

(Repeat the top 6 lines)

And then we have this one for Assembly:

There is a soldier in the grass

Has a bullet in his ass

Take it out, take it out

Like a good Girl Scout!

If you have ever been to a Horse Race, or watched the Kentucky Derby, you should be familiar with First Call. It is known as Call To The Post for horse racing fans.

Final Thoughts

I would love to hear from any of you Army Bugle players. Did I accurately list all the bugle calls? If I missed any at all, please tell us in the comments area.

Also, we would love to hear any and all opinions. Do you believe the Army bugle still has a place? Do you think that it is outdated and should be “put to sleep?” We do have many other ways to communicate with soldiers and officers in the field. Personally, I believe that the tradition of the bugle should be maintained forever. If technology fails, the bugle will not fail. I also believe the bugle, and the daily bugle calls enliven the motivation and morale of Army units. Along with that, I say that we go back to the old system where an actual Army bugle player plays every day, and get rid of the loudspeakers playing a recorded version. I actually think that the loudspeaker playing bugle calls drives morale into a negative side. But, that is just my opinion.

I have much respect for the Army bugle player. To me, they are similar to a Color Bearer in wars and battles. With bullets and bombs blaring, they put that piece of brass to their lips and blow music that signals soldiers and officers of their next move.

I suggest that for once, you just stop taking those daily Army bugle calls for granted. Listen to them closely and picture the soldiers who during the Revolution, the Civil War, the War of 1812, World War I and II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars and recently War in Iraq and Afghanistan who stood tall and brave, playing that bugle to provide soldiers with their next move.

Ok, I have said enough, but I want to share with you a great video of Pershing’s Own Army Bugle player playing Taps at Arlington National Cemetery. Thanks.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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