150 years after Gettysburg, drummer to recreate reunion march

PITTSBURGH Sat May 25, 2013 12:22pm EDT

Jim Smith (L), 70, of Hempfield, leads members of the Grand Army of the Republic Post 88, Pittsburgh, and the Armbrust Veterans and Civil War Re-enactors, including Luke Prohaska (C) in a Civil War uniform, for a ceremony at the graveside of Peter Guibert, a Union Civil War drummer boy, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania May 24, 2013. REUTERS/Jeffrey B. Roth

Jim Smith (L), 70, of Hempfield, leads members of the Grand Army of the Republic Post 88, Pittsburgh, and the Armbrust Veterans and Civil War Re-enactors, including Luke Prohaska (C) in a Civil War uniform, for a ceremony at the graveside of Peter Guibert, a Union Civil War drummer boy, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania May 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jeffrey B. Roth

Related Topics

Photo

Under the Iron Dome

Sirens sound as rockets land deep inside Israel.  Slideshow 

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Fifty years after the Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest of the U.S. Civil War, a survivor of that fight marched 200 miles from Pittsburgh to the site of the battle for a reunion attended by both Union and Confederate veterans.

On Sunday, another veteran, Jim Smith, 70, of Hempfield, Pennsylvania, will start out on the same trek as part of the observation of Memorial Day, when Americans honor their war dead. By a stroke of luck, Smith will be carrying the same drum - a throaty field snare - played by his spiritual forebear, Union Army veteran Peter Guibert.

"Getting Peter's drum was a fortuitous happening," said Smith, a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War and a retired mechanical engineer.

Smith, a drummer and hobbyist who restores musical instruments, was profiled by a Pennsylvania newspaper about 30 years ago when he started a fife and drum crops in western Pennsylvania.

That story caught the attention of Betty Mower, now 87, whose uncle, Otto Guibert, had recently died. Mower had inherited a relic from her uncle's attic, which she knew only as "Grandpa Peter's army drum," she recalled at a Friday memorial service for Peter Guibert.

Mower had considered throwing away the drum, which she had not been allowed to touch as a child, but thought it would interest Smith and got in touch with him.

"When it had been up in the attic, it got encrusted with coal dust and it looked pretty decrepit," Smith said. "It sat for quite a while, but I eventually got around to restoring it."

Smith became curious about the drum's owner, and after scouring military and civilian records, learned about Guibert's journey to Gettysburg.

He plans to recreate the march with Ray Zimmerman, 65, another Vietnam veteran. The men aim to arrive in Gettysburg in time for ceremonies to mark the 150th anniversary of the battle, which was fought from July 1-3, 1863.

Some 50,000 soldiers from the North and South died at Gettysburg, which is regarded as a turning point in the war that preserved the United States as a single country and also led to the abolition of slavery.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
tboyce wrote:
Get your facts straight. There were over 50,000 casualties (killed, wounded, missing) at the battle of Gettysburg.

May 25, 2013 12:33pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.