Sally Louisa Tompkins


"Captain Sally Louisa Tompkins was a Confederate nurse, and the only woman to be commissioned into the Confederate Army." Sally Louisa Tompkins resided in Richmond at the beginning of the Civil War. From a wealthy family, Tompkins opened Robertson Hospital, a private hospital, to care for Confederate wounded. The hospital was named for Judge John Robertson, who donated the home. Tompkins operated the hospital at her own expense, only closing the doors after the last patients were discharged in June 1865. Robertson Hospital treated over 1,300 patients, of whom only 73 died. No other hospital saved more of its patients, and officers tried to place their most seriously wounded soldiers with Tompkins.

It was Tompkins's success rate that allowed her private facility to stay open after September 1861, when President Jefferson Davis ordered all private hospitals closed. To allow Robertson Hospital to remain open, Davis commissioned Tompkins an unassigned captain in the Confederate cavalry. She was the only woman to hold a commission on the Confederate Army. Tompkins was then able to run her hospital with the cooperation of the military, which helped to defray costs. After the war, she continued her charity work until her fortune was depleted. She died a resident of the Confederate Women's Home in Richmond, and was buried with military honors.

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