Sally Louisa Tompkins

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Sally Louisa Tompkins 


Sally Louisa Tompkins

(1833 -1916)

Born in Poplar Grove, Mathews county, Virginia, on November 9, 1833, Sally Tompkins came from a wealthy family. She devoted most of her time and energies to philanthropic undertakings. When the Civil War began, she turned a large house in Richmond, Virginia, into a hospital at her own expense and operated it as the Robertson Hospital throughout the war, until June 1865. In September 1861, following the building of several military hospitals around Richmond, President Jefferson Davis of the Confederate States issued an order discontinuing all private hospitals, but to circumvent his order in her case he commissioned Tompkins a captain in the Confederate cavalry, making her the only woman to hold a Confederate commission.

As "Captain Sally" (a title she carried the rest of her life) she was thereafter able to operate her hospital more efficiently than before and with the cooperation of the military. In the nearly four years her hospital was in operation, it cared for more than a thousand patients, of whom only 73 died, an amazing record unapproached by any other hospital in the war. After the war she continued her various philanthropies until financial reverses destroyed the family fortune. She died in Richmond, Virginia, on July 25, 1916, and was buried with military honors.

Last Modified: Thursday May 20, 2010


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