James Markham Marshall Ambler
Original Author: Unknown
Created: Nineteenth century
Medium: Photograph
Publisher: Washington & Lee Leyburn Library Special Collections

James Markham Marshall Ambler

Beneath this nineteenth-century photographic portrait of James Markham Marshall Ambler is the motto “Duty stronger than love of life.” As a U.S. Navy surgeon, Ambler served on the ill-fated ship Jeannette that became icebound and was eventually destroyed by ice during an Arctic expedition that began in 1879 and ended in 1881. Many of the thirty-three crew members drowned, froze, or starved to death, including Ambler who was the last to die. Though offered the chance to join a party that eventually made its way to safety, Ambler opted to stay behind with his sick men.