Summary

Birth:
Jefferson County, West Virginia 1
Death:
08 Mar 1890 1
Washington, D.C 1
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Personal Details

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Also known as:
he Florence Nightingale of the South 1
Full Name:
Juliet Opie Hopkins 1
Birth:
Jefferson County, West Virginia 1
Female 1
Birth:
07 May 1818 1
Death:
08 Mar 1890 1
Washington, D.C 1
Cause: Natural Causes 1
Burial:
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington VA 1
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Marriage:
Arthur Francis Hopkins 1
04 Nov 1854 1
Spouse Death Date: 06 Nov 1865 1
Marriage:
Alexander George Gordon 1
1837 1
Spouse Death Date: 1849 1
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Occupation:
Nurse 1

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Stories

Juliet Opie Hopkins (1818-1890)

ALABAMA WOMEN'S HALL OF FAME

 

 

Juliet Opie Hopkins was the wife of prominent Mobile businessman and political leader Arthur F. Hopkins. In June 1861, while she was in Virginia, she began organizing medical and supply services to assist sick and wounded Alabama soldiers, who at the time were not provided with adequate medical services by the Confederate Medical Department.

Her voluntary efforts grew in size and scale through the summer, as groups in Alabama sent supplies and money to assist her in her efforts. In August, she established the first of three hospitals in Richmond to provide a place of care and recovery for Alabamians. By November she had established a second, larger hospital, and a third hospital followed in the Spring of 1862. In its November 1861 session, the Alabama legislature assumed responsibility for supporting these hospitals, appointing Judge Hopkins the agent for Alabama in Virginia and Mrs. Hopkins the superintendent of any hospitals the agent might establish.

Just the establishment and continued operation of these hospitals was a remarkable achievement. It was even more remarkable for a woman to emerge in such a position of leadership and responsibility. But the most remarkable aspect of Mrs. Hopkins' work was the level of personal care and attention she and her colleagues provided. Surviving records are filled with letters reflecting her efforts in behalf of the sick and wounded who found themselves in her care. All of these letters reflect a tenacious dedication to the personal care of each patient in a time when the numbers of sick and wounded tended to overwhelm and deaden the sensibilities of the people responsible for their care.

With the increasing costs and shortage by late 1863 and also the consolidation of services by the Confederate Medical Department, Mrs. Hopkins felt obligated to close her hospitals in October and to transfer her patients and supplies to the Confederate hospitals. She returned to Alabama to continue her work in hospitals in the state, serving there until the end of the War.

Mrs. Hopkins' husband died in late 1865, and Mrs. Hopkins left Alabama to live on property she owned in New York. She had lost most of her and her husband's wealth in the War and lived the rest of her life in relative poverty. She died in 1890 in Washington, D.C., in the home of her adopted daughter, also named Juliet. She was buried at Arlington Cemetery, and the members of the Alabama congressional delegation served as her pall bearers.

Letter written by Juliet

Richmond Aug.26, 1861.

Messrs. Chilton, Smith, Harrison and Shorter:

Gentlemen:

You are aware that I have been for nearly three months actively engaged in ministering to the wants and comforts of our sick and suffering soldiers wherever and whenever I could reach them; and, although I am still deeply interested in the cause, yet I feel that I can neither do justice to those who have confided to me this sacred trust with the means of relieving the soldiers, nor of the soldiers themselves. You will, therefore, pardon the call I have made upon you to take this matter under consideration, and form such an hospital association as, in your judgment, may be most conducive to the accomplishment of the great object of restoring and improving the health of our soldiers.

I hope you may find it practicable to organize, on your plan of proceeding, a moveable hospital to each regiment, somewhat in imitation of the plan adopted in the Crimean war. A cook and steward, furnished by your association, placed under the direction of the surgeon, would add greatly to the comfort and convenience of the regiment. I am gratified to learn that the Surgeon General has approved, the plan of furnishing a portable cooking-stove to each regiment. The Secretary and Treasurer would greatly relieve and enable me to give more attention to other departments of no less importance.

Until the establishment of the Alabama Hospital, on the 1st of August, my attention was directed to all the hospitals, and even now all calls made upon me for aid, where the necessities are great, are immediately responded to, regardless of the States of which the sufferers are citizens.

May God’s blessing rest upon your efforts.

Very respectfully,

Mrs. A. F. Hopkins. …

 

Juliet Ann Opie Hopkins ("the Florence Nightingale of the South") (1818–1890) was born on a plantation in Jefferson County in the U.S. state ofWest Virginia. After marriage to Arthur F. Hopkins of Mobile, Alabama, she relocated to that state. During the Civil War, the couple sold most of their real estate holdings and donated the money to the cause of the Confederate States of America. When her husband was appointed to oversee hospitals during the war, she went to work converting tobacco factories into hospitals. She made daily visits to the wounded, and received a battlefield injury in the course of her duties. Her husband died within months of the close of the war, and she spent the rest of her life in poverty. When she died, she was interred with a full military burial at Arlington National Cemetery, with the Alabama congressional delegation serving as her pallbearers. In 1991, she was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame.

 

Juliet Opie Hopkins was born on her parents' Jefferson County, Virginia plantation "Woodburn", which employed the use of slave labor. Prior to the Civil War, what is now West Virginia was part of the state of Virginia. Today, Jefferson County is across the state line in West Virginia. Her father Hierome Lindsay Opie owned an estimated 2,000 slaves. She was home schooled until she was enrolled at Miss Ritchie's private institution in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother Margaret Muse Opie died when Juliet was sixteen years old, and she was called home to handle her mother's duties at the plantation.[1] Her first husband in 1837 was Alexander George Gordon. They remained married until his death which is given as both 1847 and as 1849.[2] She married widower Arthur Francis Hopkins on November 4, 1854. Twenty-three years older than Juliet, he had been born in Virginia in October 18, 1794. His father had been a participant in the Revolutionary War. He studied law and opened a practice in Alabama. Prior to marrying Juliet, he had already served as an Alabama state senator, and as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.[3][4] The couple made their home inMobile. No children resulted from either of Juliet's marriages, but she adopted her niece

 

Alabama officially adopted its Ordinance of Secession from the United States on January 11, 1861, joining the Confederate States of America.[5]Montgomery became the first capitol of the Confederacy, and it was the city in which Jefferson Davis gave his inaugural address. In May 1861, the capital was moved to Richmond, Virginia.[6]

In November 1861, Governor John Gill Shorter appointed Judge Hopkins to oversee Alabama hospitals. The couple liquidated much of their real estate holdings in three states and contributed the cash to the medical needs of the Confederacy. Under authority given her by the Alabama legislature, Juliet coordinated civilian aid and donation efforts. Operating out of a supply depot in Richmond, she converted three tobacco factories into hospitals during the four-month period of December 1861 through April 1862. The three facilities served an aggregate case load exceeding 500 patients and were daily overseen by on-site visits from Juliet. Her personalizing the effort included handling patient correspondence and supplying reading materials for the soldiers. When a patient died, Juliet personally sent a lock of their hair to their next of kin.[7]

She additionally visited the areas of conflict to help tend the wounded, sustaining two hip wounds at the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31, 1862 that left her with a permanent limp. During this time period, she was given the nickname "Florence Nightingale of the South". That same year, the Confederacy merged the patient load at the smaller hospitals into the larger facilities elsewhere.[8]James H. Wilson's Raid of multiple Alabama sites in March and April 1865[9] forced the Hopkinses to flee the state and take refuge in Newman, Georgia.

After the war, the couple returned to Mobile, but had been financially depleted by the war. Judge Hopkins died November 6, 1865, seven months after the conclusion of the American Civil War. He was buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile.[10]

Juliet relocated to New York to live on property that had not been sold for the war effort, her remaining years spent in poverty. She died at her daughter's home in Washington, D.C. on March 8, 1890. She was buried with a full military burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Her pallbearers were members of the Alabama congressional delegation

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