Civil War heroine Capt. Sally Tompkins returned to her native Mathews County on Saturday night in the form of reenactor Rosemary Thoburn of Vienna, above, who gave a one-hour talk on the life and experiences of the woman who ran Robertson Hospital in Richmond. Spectators packed the historic courthouse to hear the presentation about Tompkins, who oversaw the facility with the lowest mortality rate of the military hospitals in the Civil War. Photo by Charlie Koenig.
Almost 100 years after she passed away, Capt. Sally Tompkins returned to Mathews County.
Civil War reenactor Rosemary Thoburn of Vienna, a young woman who has been portraying the “Angel of the Confederacy” for the past four years, brought “Captain Sally” back to life for an hour on Saturday night in a program sponsored by the Mathews County Sesquicentennial Committee.
People packed the historic courthouse to hear Thoburn, speaking as Tompkins, tell of the Mathews County native’s struggle to keep a military hospital running in Richmond through four years of bloody conflict.
Tompkins, who was born at Poplar Grove, founded and directed Robertson Hospital in downtown Richmond, a facility that treated more than 1,300 Confederate soldiers between 1861 and 1865. Of that total, only 73 patients died under her care, a survival rate that made Robertson Hospital the envy of the rest of the Confederate Medical Service.
Tompkins had come from a long and distinguished military family; her grandfather served under George Washington, her father had been a militia colonel in the War of 1812 and her brother was an officer who at one time counted among his command “the infamous William T. Sherman,” Thoburn said, getting a chuckle from the crowd.