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At her grave in the cemetery at the Christ Episcopal Church,


there is a monument to Capt. Tompkins erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. There are engraved the words of St. Matthew’s 25th chapter: “I was an hungered and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty and ye gave me drink. I was sick and ye visited me.”


In the 1960s, a beautiful stained glass window was installed at St. James Episcopal Church in Richmond as a tribute to the life and work of Sally Louisa Tompkins. The window depicts Capt. Tompkins with her medical bag belted around her waist and a Bible in her hand with the Angel of Mercy to guide her. Above the center panel is a picture of the Robertson Hospital, and below are scenes depicting caring for the sick and wounded Confederate soldiers. In Mathews County, there is a cottage in the center of town now operated by the Mathews County Historical Society. It is named the Christopher Tompkins cottage because it is believed to have been owned by Capt. Tompkins’ father. It now displays some artifacts belonging to Sally Tompkins and items reminis- cent of her time. The home is set up to represent a typical home of the 1800s. Prose and poetry have been written in praise of the “Confed-


erate Florence Nightingale.” Here is one of many poems about Capt. Tompkins written by Keppel Hagerman and contained in her book Dearest of Captains. This poem deals with Tompkins taking her last round before leaving Robertson Hospital when it closed at the end of the war.


I have longed for this day, and dreaded it too; curious the feel both ways. I’ve accepted the fact that Robertson’s like the war is finished.


Thirteen hundred and thirty-three came in rags and blood; twelve hundred and sixty bodies healed, If not their souls.


Stained glass window with the Angel of Mercy to guide and guard her, Captain Sally Tompkins gazes into the congregation of Saint James Episcopal Church located in Richmond, Virginia. Courtesy of St James Episcopal Church in Richmond.


presented him with a knapsack containing durable clothing, socks she knitted herself, a prayer book and the gospels bound in oil cloth.


When the war ended, Capt. Tompkins became involved in Richmond society. She devoted her time and what remained of her inheritance to a whole range of charities including the Episcopal Church. She never married, although she had many proposals from grateful recovered patients. By 1905, she had given away all her savings. In her later years, she was invited to take up her residence in the Richmond Home for Confederate Women.


On July 25, 1916, Sally Louisa Tompkins died at the age of 83. She was buried at Christ Episcopal Church, Kingston Parish, near Mathews, with full military honors.


The House & Home Magazine


This morning I packed away my reticle, my military commission. I’ll make the rounds once more through these hollow halls,


devoid of nurses, patients and doctors.


So, close the door, turn the key. leave the ghosts inside- thank God, there are only seventy-three, Will they wander and moan all night? This is a heathen thought.


I cannot forget the past- I can only walk away from it on this bright June afternoon.


Amid the blood and torn bodies, Captain Sally Tompkins saw beyond the gore to the very hearts and souls of the wound- ed and dying Confederate soldiers. Compassionate, caring, determined and selfless; she was an angel of mercy doing for the least of her brethren. H


23


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