James Markham Marshall Ambler, born in Fauquier County in 1848, was a soldier in the Confederate Army, and a physician on the Arctic exploring ship, the U.S.S. Jeanette, which sailed from San Francisco, California in July 1879 to begin what would become a nearly two-year long expedition into the icepack north of Siberia.
His medical skills were critical for maintaining the health of his shipmates during their long entrapment in the ice, and during their arduous journey over the rugged ice and frigid seas after the ship sank in June 1881. During the following weeks he treated his companions’ frostbite and tried to maintain their strength as they slowly starved. Passed Assistant Surgeon Ambler was apparently one of the last three members of the group to succumb to hunger and exposure.