No. 1 May 13, 2013
Yankee Drummer to duplicate 1913 Pittsburgh-Gettysburg trek
PITTSBURGH – Yankee Drummer Jim Smith of Greensburg has announced he will duplicate Peter Guibert’s 1913 trek from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg for the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.
Guibert, at age 70, stepped off from the then Allegheny City Hall on the Northside on May 26, 1913. Accompanied by a friend and fellow Northsider John Conroy, Guibert arrived in Gettysburg 19 days later on Friday, June 13. Guibert performed for audiences, especially youngsters, who formed along the route.
Smith, accompanied by Ray Zimmerman of Acme in the role of John Conroy, step off from West Park on the Northside Sunday, May 26, at 9 a.m. The West Park event is being coordinated by the Northside Leadership Conference.
Smith plans to duplicate the “educational entertainments” as well. They will appear at Memorial Day activities at Soldiers and Sailors Hall in Oakland on Monday, May 27. Scheduled to date are events at Schellsburg, Bedford, Everett, Chambersburg, Cashtown and Gettysburg.
Smith, who turned 70 in February, acquired Guibert’s brass-shelled Civil War snare drum in 1982. Later meetings with family members revealed that Guibert and Smith were born 100 years and a few days apart. They also shared a love of drumming.
Smith founded and performed with fife and drum corps in several states and in Japan during the Bicentennial Celebration in 1976.
Guibert, after serving as a drummer boy in the Union Army at Gettysburg and other campaigns, was well-known as an entertainer. In addition to the drum, he also played other instruments such as the fife, harmonica, and slide whistle.
With those things in common, Guibert family members and fellow Civil War buffs in Gettysburg encouraged him to duplicate the trek.
“Lots of historical artifacts have interesting stories to tell but rarely get the opportunity. We are committed to Peter’s drum and its’ story about the heroic 74th PA volunteers at Gettysburg. Like an antique Stradivarius violin played in a concert hall, Peter’s drum will tell its story on the field and on parade with its’ own voice,” said Smith.
After defraying the costs of the trip, funds raised will be used to erect a memorial to military musicians. Until modern communications replaced them, drums, fifes and bugles played an essential role in directing troops in battle and camp duties. A location for the monument has not yet been decided. Donations may be made to the Northside Leadership Conference/Peter Guibert Trek fund.
Preceding the trek is a ceremony at Peter Guibert’s grave in Highwood Cemetery on Brighton Road in Pittsburgh Friday, May 24 at 2:30 p.m.