|Birth: ||Dec. 30, 1848|
|Death: ||Oct., 1881, Greenland|
United States Naval Surgeon. He was a member of the crew of the steamer Jeanette during its ill fated expedition to the Arctic. The Jeanette became trapped in the ice and all of the crew died of starvation and exposure. He was one of the last three members to die.
A NAVAL HERO.
Dr. Ambler, the Surgeon of the Jeannette, A Brave Officer who Did His Whole Duty.
Among the dead of the Jeannette, brought home to find a resting place, was Dr. James M. Amber. Melville, when asked by the court whom of the expedition he would especially commend for his behavior, promptly replied : "Dr. Ambler," and he was unstinted in his praise of him. During the famous retreat over the ice Ambler was one of the leading spirits. He harnessed two half-starved Esquimaux dogs to a sled of his own contriving, on which were lashed the surgical instruments, medical stores and scientific records; and leaving them to follow in the rear with the sick, the doctor took his place in advance day after day, as chief of the roadmakers. He wielded a heavy sledge hammer like a Hercules, breaking down ice hummocks to level a road for the boats. It was related of him that he invariably, when the day's work began, took up the heaviest of the sledges, thus setting an encouraging example to the men. We see him laying this down for a moment to perform an iridectomy, one of the most delicate operations in eye surgery. After De Long's boats had reached the Lena Delta, and failing to find succor for three weeks or longer, the commander decided to send two of the strongest of his party in advance to seek aid. The main body traveled very slowly, most of them being scarcely able to walk at all, and having to transport the sick. De Long was able to walk only for five minutes at a time. Ambler was the strongest of the party, and the commanding officer selected him and Nindeman to go on ahead for succor and to save their own lives, if possible, both of them being able for a long march. When this was communicated to the doctor he told his commander that he thought he ought not to leave his sick, as he preferred to share their fortunes to the end, and his going away would look like abandoning them. This doubtless touched the gallant De Long, whose first thought seems ever to have been his high duty to those under his command. Noros was then sent in Ambler's stead and his life was saved. Ambler remained with his sick comrades to the last and died with them. It is doubtful if the medical profession affords anywhere a finer example of heroism than this. Imprisoned on board an ice-bound ship for twenty-two months, a painful retreat over weary miles of rough ice, with half frozen hands and feet, then wandering about on unknown shore for three weeks, reduced to a mere struggle for existence, yet not for a moment was blunted his keen sense of professional duty. Melville, who found the bodies, is of the opinion that Ambler was the last one to die. His frozen body was found in a sitting attitude, clothed in many suits of extra clothing, seizing in his right hand De Long's pistol, taken from his dead commander's pocket; in solemn and faithful guard over his dead comrades. None will ever know the dreadful extent of his sufferings during those last hours, or possibly days, of his life, alone with his dead, starving, exhausted and hopeless. Faithful messengers sent by his grateful country have brought home the mortal remains of this noble son to an aged mother, to lie at rest in his own village churchyard in Fauquier county. Va. Peace to him and her, and honor to the memory of this noble surgeon whose life was given to his country and his duty!
Richard Cary Ambler (1810 - 1877)
Susan Marshall Ambler (1812 - 1896)
John Ambler (1847 - 1860)*
James Markham Marshall Ambler (1848 - 1881)
Richard Cary Ambler (1850 - 1928)*
Mary Morris Ambler (1852 - 1932)*
Edward Ambler (1854 - 1935)*
Leeds Episcopal Church Cemetery
Created by: Hope
Record added: Sep 26, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11829498