Most Confederate nurses were working class and enslaved women who endured the grisly and dangerous conditions. A relative minority of middle- or upper-class Southern women left their homes to become nurses. These women typically had the leisure to volunteer their services, usually temporarily at hospitals established in homes and churches. Some founded and operated hospitals, such as the celebrated "Captain" Sally Tompkins, who opened Robertson Hospital in the home of Judge John Robertson in the Confederate capital at , which had the lowest mortality rate of any military hospital during the Civil War. Of women who made nursing a profession, only those with the calmest stomachs were appointed to field hospitals by surgeons familiar with their skill and conduct under pressure. Most women, however, worked or volunteered in established military hospitals at military depots and near battlefields. In Virginia, where so much of the war was fought, there were many such opportunities, both temporary and for the duration of the war, for dedicated women to provide essential physical and psychological care to sick and wounded soldiers.


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