Tompkins Bio Sketch

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From the Eleanor S. Brockenbrough Library, Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA; Robertson Hospital/Sally Tompkins file. By Mrs. Wm. B. Lightfoot, no date, but obviously post-1916.

The subject of this sketch, Miss Sally L. Tompkins, was born at “Poplar Grove” Mathews Co - Va, on 9th November 1830 - The daughter of Christopher Tompkins and Maria Patterson, his wife. At the beginning of the War between the States, she was living in Richmond with her widowed mother and one sister. Having a loving and sympathetic nature and having often nursed cases of sickness, (there being no trained nurses in those days) when the wounded men from the first battle of Manassas were brought into the city, her heart was touched and she earnestly desired to secure a place to care for some of them. Her friend, Judge John Robertson, offered her the use of his house on the northwest corner of 3rd & Main sts free of charge for any length of time it might be needed. From that time till April 1865 thirteen hundred (1300) men were tenderly cared for at the “Robertson Hospital.” She used her own means, being helped by the Government only in the way of some medical supplies. Numerous friends gave freely of money and provisions, and a Doctor friend attended regularly on the sick and wounded soldiers. Many of her lady friends helped in this work, each taking a day or two of each week to give their cheerful service. She also had one or two of her devoted old servants, one of whom was a fine cook. An old soldier, too feeble to go into the Army, cultivated a garden in the large back yard, and the fresh vegetables were most acceptable. President Jefferson Davis found it necessary to close the many private Hospitals, in order that all might be under Government supervision, but the proportion of soldiers returned to the Army by her efforts, was so large that he wished her to continue her work, and could only do so by having her appointed a Military Officer. So on Octo September 29th 1861, he gave her a commission as "Captain of Cavalry, unassigned," and she was henceforth known as "Captain Sally." She would not receive any salary, saying that every cent was needed by the Government. After the war ended, she continued to live in Richmond, but growing so feeble, that it was necessary she should have special care and attention, she was offered a room, as an honoured guest, in the “Home for Confederate Women” on Grace st, by the President Mrs. A. J. Montague and Board of Managers of that Institution. She was well cared for, and often visited by her old soldiers. There on 25th July 1916, surrounded by loving relatives and friend, she passed from death into life eternal. The various Camps of Confederate Veterans and "Daughters of the Confederacy" have placed a monument at her grave near her old home in Mathews Co; in the church yard, where she worshipped with her parents, a short inscription telling of her work ends with these appropriate words -

I was hungered, and ye gave me meat
I was thirsty and ye gave me drink
I was sick and ye visited me."
                                                St. Matthew 25th Chap

Written by Mrs. Wm. B. Lightfoot
Daughter of Judge & Mrs. Wm. W. Crump
of Richmond Va.


Page last updated on 06/14/2008