Scribbler 5-1

In October 1897, the Buzzard brothers' exploits were chronicled in the Philadelpha Inquirer Sunday magazine.

Mary Louisa Walker Roberts, a native of Sadsbury Township, near Gap, served as a Confederate army nurse. She shuttled medical supplies from Canada to wounded men in the South. She later married one of those men, a Texan, and they lived in a summer home in Salisbury Township.

So she is included among more than 400 Salisbury Township residents who served in some capacity during the Civil War. Almost all were Union men. Her husband, John Coleman Roberts, is one of two exceptions.

The only other Confederate male listed in a comprehensive new book, “Civil War Veterans Who Lived in or Were Buried in Salisbury Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania,” is one of the infamous Buzzard brothers. We’ll get to him in a while.

In 1861, Mary Roberts was preparing to graduate from the Baltimore Female College when she caught war fever from her Southern friends and traveled to Richmond to serve as a hospital nurse. She spent the entire war nursing wounded Confederates, including her husband, who enlisted in a Texas regiment and lost his arm at the battle of Gaines Mill in the summer of 1862.

Far from the only nurse — in this war or any other — who married her patient, Mary returned to her parents’ home to be married in 1869. The Robertses settled on a large farm in Robertson County, Texas. They bought their summer home in Salisbury Township in 1884.

Mary Roberts did more than nurse wounded Confederates. In the late fall of 1864, just months before the Confederacy collapsed, she traveled to Canada to gather medical supplies. She transported them down the frozen St. Lawrence River to a seagoing ship. The ship sailed to Cuba and then on to Galveston, Texas.

John and Mary Roberts led a long and apparently happy life together. When John died in 1908, Mary wrote to her siblings: “I am left with thousands of dollars, hundreds of acres, and a broke heart.” She died in 1911. For a time, a marker along Route 41 at the southern end of Gap memorialized “the courageous Confederate nurse.”'

Now, about that Buzzard.

Martin Buzzard, born in Salisbury Township in 1840, is not the best-known of the family of thieves that terrorized eastern Lancaster County during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But he was the only one of the brothers who served in the Confederate army.

This is complicated. First, Martin enlisted in a cavalry regiment of Union volunteers shortly after the battle of Gettysburg in the summer of 1863. In May 1864, he was wounded near Richmond and imprisoned there and at Andersonville, Georgia.

Several months later, in order to escape prison, he enlisted in a regiment of Confederate volunteers from Tennessee. But he was captured by Union forces shortly thereafter and confined to several Northern prisons. He re-enlisted in the Union Army to get out of an Illinois prison.

The slang terms for such turncoats were “Galvanized Confederates” and “Galvanized Yankees.” It was unusual to be both.

Martin Buzzard returned to a life of crime in Lancaster County, along with his brothers, Ike, Abe, Joseph and Jacob. Like the others, he spent considerable time in prison for theft, shootings and other mayhem.

So those are the Confederates from Salisbury. Most readers will want to examine the Civil War records of Union men, including two of three Brinton brothers who died in the war.

Alfred L. Brown, Alfred Carl Paul Gerhardt Jr. and Joan M. Lorenz authored the 569-page book. They will sign and sell copies Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the White Chimneys Estate, 5117 Lincoln Highway, Gap,  or contact for pricing and other information.

Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes "The Scribbler'' column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at