Tag Archives: John Robertson

The Confederacy: Partying Like it’s 1899

As you all know, I’ve been temporarily gainfully employed for a short while and so my posts have been infrequent. Though I’m working for the Henrico County Library System, I’m still trying to make my contribution to the Library of Virginia and their blog Out of the Box. I’d like to give you a peek at my latest, unedited LVA contribution. As it is somewhat professional, it does not contain my usual strains of jackassery though I did try to convince the blog’s editor that they should somehow incorporate my Prince reference in the title when it goes live.

Could you ever imagine that in 1896, here in Richmond, the heart of the former confederacy, soldiers on both sides of the bloody conflict that was the Civil War would come together and party? Well, believe it. The occasion was a reunion of soldiers who had spent time in the care of Sally Tompkins and the staff at the Robertson Hospital and the reunion register can be found here at the Library of Virginia.

The hospital reunion register records the names, signatures and sometimes military unit of former soldiers who attended a patient reunion during the Grand Confederate Reunion of 1896. Some wives’ names are also listed. A quick perusal of the document reveals that some attendees were soldiers who fought for the Union, further testimony to the respect and love that soldiers on both sides felt for the care Tompkins bestowed on all. The love was not one-sided as Tompkins paid for the entire blowout herself, renting a house and providing food and drink for the entire company.

Only a remarkable woman such as Tompkins could have engineered such a get-together. Born in Poplar Grove,Mathews City., Va., on 9 Nov. 1833, Tompkins moved to Richmond following the death of her husband and used her considerable inheritance to open a private hospital at the outbreak of the war. Tompkins opened the hospital at the corner of 3rd and Main Street at the home of Judge John Robertson, thus giving the facility its name. The quality of care at Robertson Hospital was of such a high caliber that Jefferson Davis allowed the hospital to operate after he closed all other private hospitals in the capital. In all, the hospital treated 1,333 soldiers from its opening until the last patients were discharged 13 June 1865. Only 73 deaths were ever recorded at Robertson Hospital during its entire existence. When regulations were handed down to the effect that all military hospitals must be run only by military personnel, rather than dispense with such excellent care as Tompkins provided, she was instead appointed a captain of calvary to comply with the new rules. Needless to say, Tompkins was the only commissioned woman in the Confederate Army.

Sally Tompkins was buried with full military honors after her death on 26 July, 1916 in Richmond, Virginia.

Well, that’s about it for any creative output I’ve managed lately. I’m sort of in the midst of a lot of varied career stuff right now. I’m still working on my Continuing Education survey, attempting to find permanent work, trying to write whenever I get the chance and, of course, doing what it is I’m doing now at the headquarters of the Henrico County Library System.

Oh, but I do want to mention that I managed to snag an interview this coming Wednesday at the Appomattox Regional Library System for a Reference Librarian position. Woot!