Sallie Chapman Gordon Law


Known by Confederate veterans as the “Mother of the Confederacy,” Sallie Chapman Gordon was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1805 to Revolutionary War veteran Chapman Gordon and his wife, Charity King. She married Dr. John S. Law in Georgia in 1825, and the couple relocated to Memphis, Tennessee. In April 1861, the ladies of Memphis met at the home of Mrs. Mary Pope and organized the Southern Mothers’ Hospital, with Law as president, and began the daunting task of caring for the sick, wounded, and dying soldiers passing through Memphis in their makeshift 12-bed hospital. This building was soon over-burdened and the hospital relocated to a larger facility on the Irving Block that could accommodate 2,000 soldiers. After taking inventory, Law embarked on a trip to deliver overstocked supplies to a hospital in Columbus, Kentucky. From the relative safety of the steamer ship Prince, Law witnessed the Battle of Belmont on November 7, 1861. Law had a personal stake in the outcome; her only son, John, was engaged in the fighting. Law quickly returned to Memphis afterward to care for Confederate wounded in the city’s hospitals. The Confederate government absorbed the Southern Mothers’ Hospital and consolidated it with Overton Hospital, where the Southern nurses continued their work. The next wave of wounded was from the Battle of Shiloh, and Law divided her time between hospital work and transporting supplies to Confederates in the field. After the occupation of Memphis in June 1862, the sick and wounded were transported outside the city to the Sisters of St. Agnes. The Southern Mothers continued to transport supplies from the Irving Block until it became a Federal prison. After the fall of Memphis, Law and some other Southern Mothers departed for La Grange, Georgia, leaving those still in Memphis to tend the sick there. Law spent what remained in the Southern Mothers’ treasury, $2,500 in Confederate currency, on medicines, personally delivering them to La Grange hospitals. Law spent the duration of the war, mainly in Georgia, nursing and caring for the wounded and gathering and delivering supplies where they were needed.

  • Organized the Southern Mothers' Hospital
  • Transported supplies to Confederates in the field
  • Worked at various hospitals