CARTHAGE, Mo. — The quiet at Park Cemetery was broken by the sound of a drumbeat.
It started softly in the distance, just barely audible, accompanying a group dressed head to toe in replica Union Civil War uniforms. Slowly, in step with each other, they marched toward a freshly turned plot of dirt set next to a new tombstone.
They and hundreds of others gathered Saturday for the funeral of Maj. Raphael Guido Rombauer, a Union Civil War officer whose ashes were buried alongside his wife and two of his children at the Carthage cemetery. Rombauer died in 1912.
“It’ll probably never be done again, to actually be the honor guard for a Civil War veteran,” said Joe Rainey, a member The Holmes Brigade, the Civil War re-enactment group. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The sounds of a cannon blast and orchestral strains accompanied the procession to the grave. At the site, the Rev. Steve Wilson, of Grace Episcopal Church, delivered an order of service in a combination of German, English and a little Hungarian, using 1880s and 1890s Hungarian Protestant liturgical traditions.
As he finished speaking, he scooped a handful of dirt to drop on the golden box that was lowered into the Earth. After a round of gunfire, the sound of “Taps” drifted through the air, followed by another cannon blast.
The re-enactment group marched away to the sound of a drumbeat, with the accompaniment of the Heartland Concert Band.
The service also featured remarks from representatives of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
“It is good and right that we gather to remember our heritage,” said Marilyn Lucas, of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War. “History books give us a large picture of events, lumping individuals into groups. It is through families that these personal, individual stories live on for future generations.”
Robert Clanton, of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, outlined Rombauer’s life to those who had gathered. The officer was born in 1838 in what is now known as Hungary, and his family later immigrated to America, settling first in Iowa and then in St. Louis. Rombauer served with the Union during the Civil War, where he advanced to the rank of major.
He left the service after the war, married and had children. He eventually moved to Carthage. He died in 1912 in Kirksville.
“Welcome home, Major. May you finally rest in peace,” Clanton said.
Years later, Elizabeth Young, Rombauer’s great-great-granddaughter, would discover that her relative hadn’t received a proper burial. She found where his remains were being kept, picked up his ashes and brought them several months ago to Frank Stine, sexton of the Carthage cemetery. Stine would be involved in planning the funeral, though as he went on, more people were brought on board to help.
Young also spoke at the service, calling her relative a reminder of the country’s gratitude to servicemen and servicewomen.
“Even though our veterans may have passed many years ago, we will remember them and the price they paid for our freedom,” she said.
Young said after the funeral that she was proud of everyone who came, saying she was in awe of the service.
“I mean, what a great experience to see the funeral procession recreated, and they were very definite about ‘this is his funeral.’ And the honor that they gave to him and all veterans — it was moving,” she said.
Jane Stevens, a great-great-granddaughter of Union Civil War Maj. Raphael Guido Rombauer, said she was amazed by how many people attended the service. Organizers estimated that at least 500 people were at Rombauer’s funeral.
“It’s not just about him; it’s about our veterans and people that have sacrificed for our country,” Stevens said.