|Mathews County Historical Society, Inc.
Capt. Sally Louisa Tompkins
Sally Louisa Tompkins was born November 9, 1833 at Poplar Grove in Mathews County, Virginia. She was the youngest child of Christopher Tompkins (1778-1838) and his second wife Mariah Booth Patterson Tompkins (1794-1854). She resided at Poplar Grove until the property was sold circa 1848-49, and relocated to Norfolk, Virginia where she studied at the Norfolk Female Institute. By 1854, the same year her mother died, Sally relocated to Richmond, Virginia.
She opened Robertson Hospital in the home of Judge John Robertson at 3rd and Main Street in Richmond soon after the first battle of Manassas on July 21, 1861. Soon after Sally opened her hospital, Surgeon General Samuel P. Moore decided that large military hospitals that would be operated by commissioned officers should replace the many private hospitals since they did not necessarily provide their patients with sufficient care. When Jefferson Davis realized that Robertson Hospital had the highest number of former patients returning to duty, he commissioned her a captain on September 9, 1861 to keep her hospital open. She refused payment for her service and wrote on her military commission "I accepted the above commission as Captain in the CSA. when it was offered. But, I would not allow my name to be placed upon the pay roll of the army." Sally Tompkins became the first woman to be commissioned by the Confederacy. Robertson Hospital remained open until June 1865, when the last of the patients were discharged.
For over a decade following the war, Sally continued to reside in Richmond and was an active member of St. James's Episcopal Church. The 1880s found Sally residing at Riverview in Port Royal, Virginia, the home of John Lightfoot and Harriet Field Lightfoot. Sally purchased the property in November 1896 and owned it until 1905. She spent the last eleven years of her life in Richmond at the Home for Needy Confederate Women. Sally Louisa Tompkins died on July 25, 1916 and was buried with military honors at Kingston Episcopal Parish Church cemetery in Mathews County, Virginia.
Robertson Hospital and Capt. Sally Louisa Tompkins
Information about Robertson Hospital and Capt. Sally Louisa Tompkins in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War.
Overview of Robertson Hospital
Images of Robertson Hospital
Statistics of Robertson Hospital
Records of Robertson Hospital in the National Archives
Robertson Hospital Register
More written accounts
Capt. Sally Louisa Tompkins' obituary & will
Obituary of Capt. Sallie Louisa Tompkins - Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 26, 1916
Will of Sally L. Tompkins - dated May 7, 1907