TribLIVE

| News

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Gettysburg journey finally complete for Honor Guard members

Jack Fordyce - Yankee Drummer Jim Smith, 70, of Hempfield leads the ceremony during the Peter Guibert Centennial Memorial Trek concluding cermony on Sunday, December 8, 2013, at Highwood Cemetery on Pittsburgh's North Side.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jack Fordyce</em></div>Yankee Drummer Jim Smith, 70, of Hempfield leads the ceremony during the Peter Guibert Centennial Memorial Trek concluding cermony  on Sunday, December 8, 2013, at Highwood Cemetery on Pittsburgh's North Side.
Jack Fordyce - Ray Zimmerman of Acme plays 'Taps' during the Peter Guibert Centennial Memorial Trek concluding ceremony Sunday, December 8, 2013, at Highwood Cemetery on Pittsburgh's North Side
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jack Fordyce</em></div>Ray Zimmerman of Acme plays 'Taps' during the Peter Guibert Centennial Memorial Trek concluding ceremony Sunday, December 8, 2013, at Highwood Cemetery on Pittsburgh's North Side
Jack Fordyce - Yankee Drummer Jim Smith, 70, of Hempfield leads the ceremony during the Peter Guibert Centennial Memorial Trek concluding ceremony Sunday, December 8, 2013, Sunday, December 8, 2013, at Highwood Cemetery on Pittsburgh's North Side.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jack Fordyce</em></div>Yankee Drummer Jim Smith, 70, of Hempfield leads the ceremony during the Peter Guibert Centennial Memorial Trek concluding ceremony Sunday, December 8, 2013, Sunday, December 8, 2013, at Highwood Cemetery on Pittsburgh's North Side.
Jack Fordyce - Jim Smith performs the burial of soil from the Gettysburg National Cemetery during the Peter Guibert Centennial Memorial Trek concluding ceremony Sunday, December 8, 2013, at Highwood Cemetery on Pittsburgh's North Side. The transfer of soil completes the exchange in which soil from Peter Guibert's grave and a spent rifle shell from the opening ceremony were buried at the 74th Regiment Monument in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jack Fordyce</em></div>Jim Smith performs the burial of soil from the Gettysburg National Cemetery during the Peter Guibert Centennial Memorial Trek concluding ceremony Sunday, December 8, 2013, at Highwood Cemetery on Pittsburgh's North Side. The transfer of soil completes the exchange in which soil from Peter Guibert's grave and a spent rifle shell from the opening ceremony were buried at the 74th Regiment Monument in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
Jack Fordyce - Honor Guard members (from left) Cephus Johnson Jr., Darryl Brown and Dwayne Myers present the colors during the Peter Guibert Centennial Memorial Trek concluding ceremony Sunday, December 8, 2013, at Highwood Cemetery on Pittsburgh's North Side
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jack Fordyce</em></div>Honor Guard members (from left) Cephus Johnson Jr., Darryl Brown and Dwayne Myers present the colors during the Peter Guibert Centennial Memorial Trek concluding ceremony Sunday, December 8, 2013, at Highwood Cemetery on Pittsburgh's North Side

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, 11:51 p.m.
 

On a cold Sunday afternoon, months after completing their journey, Jim Smith and Ray Zimmerman gathered with other veterans to place soil from Gettysburg and spent cartridges from a firing squad salute at the Pittsburgh grave of Civil War drummer Peter Guibert.

The ceremony at Highwood Cemetery on the city's North Side brought the men's 200-mile, 19-day trek, replicating a journey Guibert made in 1913, full circle.

The two, with trek coordinator and “road boss” Len DeCarlo of Mt. Pleasant, began their march on May 26 from West Park in Pittsburgh's North Side.

They arrived in Gettysburg on June 13, catching a ride aboard a horse-drawn wagon with a Bell Telephone logo, just as Guibert did, a surprise Zimmerman arranged, according to Smith.

The dates coincided with the arrival of Guibert exactly 100 years earlier.

The two buried soil and a spent cartridge from the firing squad salute during the trek's opening ceremony near Guibert's regiment's monument at the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Smith and Zimmerman are veterans and members of the Armbrust Veterans Association Honor Guard.

“It exceeded all expectations,” said Smith, 70, of Hempfield.

“It was the experience of a lifetime for me,” said Zimmerman, 60, of Acme.

As DeCarlo drove ahead, Smith and Zimmerman marched, Smith tapping the drum Guibert had owned, in weather ranging from sunny and hot to pelting rain.

Along the way, Boy Scouts and Civil War buffs marched with them for a few miles, and schoolchildren waved flags as the two approached, Zimmerman said.

Playing the role of Guibert's fellow Northsider John Conroy, Zimmerman carried a bugle and played “Taps.”

As Guibert did on his march, the two stopped and performed along the way at events both scheduled and spontaneous.

They covered 10 to 14 miles per day, with meals and accommodations largely provided by the kindness of strangers, Zimmerman said.

“We were really not prepared for the absolute goodwill people gave us and expressed to us from the step-off,” Smith said.

“We got a lot of honks, a lot of waves,” Zimmerman said.

“To do it day in, day out was a challenge. I beat the drum and Peter's old drum just resounded,” Smith said.

Smith learned of Guibert three decades ago, when he acquired his snare drum from a descendant who learned of his collection of antique drums.

Guibert entered the Civil War at 17, serving with the 74th Pennsylvania, a German-speaking regiment, and the 77th Pennsylvania Volunteers. He served on the front line in several battles, including the first Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. He became known as “The Wizard of the Drums.”

Guibert died on Dec. 7, 1933, 20 years after marching to Gettysburg for a 50th anniversary reunion.

On May 26, 1913, Guibert, then 70, and Conroy departed from the site of the old Allegheny City hall.

They walked to Gettysburg, arriving on June 13, 1913, even though Civil War veterans were offered free rail passage to Gettysburg to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the battle.

Historical records indicate Guibert and Conroy averaged 15 miles per day as Guibert lugged two drums, cymbals and a calliope.

Smith likes to think Guibert may be able to see how his drum, beat upon with sticks harvested from Gettysburg trees, is still touching those who hear it.

The ultimate goal is to commemorate the important role that drums, fifes and bugles played in battle and troop communications by erecting a memorial to military musicians.

An initial fundraiser is the sale of drumsticks made from battlefield “witness” trees.

“I played all of the sticks on the trek,” Smith said.

Anyone interested in purchasing the drumsticks can contact DeCarlo at lendecarlo@zoominternet.net or Smith at yankeedrummer1@hotmail.com.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Westmoreland

  1. Scottdale chamber’s Community Yard Sale to be held Saturday
  2. Police: Scottdale man had child porn on computer
  3. More than 100 stamp bags confiscated in Greensburg; 4 arrested
  4. Sewickley Twp. man who received food stamps didn’t disclose gas royalties
  5. Hempfield cyclist to cool wheels in jail during appeal
  6. Youngwood playground found to be in violation of disability act again
  7. Unity zoning hearing board OKs addition to Adelphoi home
  8. Unity house destroyed by fire
  9. Greensburg Police officer taking job in Harmar
  10. McKeesport man ordered to trial in New Stanton hotel homicide
  11. Latrobe police to host National Night Out