Louis B. Erambert

08 Apr

I knew about Louis B. Erambert, a Wilmington druggist, before I learned that Annie Erambert was his daughter.  *Advertisement in Geo. H. Kelley’s 1860 Wilmington Directory (p.58).

While reading through online materials, I had come upon the writings of Dr. Thomas Fanning Wood, a noted Wilmington, NC physician and amateur botanist.

Excerpts from T. F. Wood’s Journal.   Dr. Wood started to write his Civil War recollections as he lay ill upon his bed in April of 1886.  In it he wrote of Erambert, “The same year found me as bad off as before and I agreed to take a situation in a new prescription drug store just started by Louis B. Erambert. The conditions were that I was to keep store during his absence, and employ my time in study to suit myself otherwise. He also bought me quite a good outfit of apparatus to pursue the study of chemistry.

Wood further wrote, “I liked my work in the Drug Store, and spent most of my time in reading and informing myself about the qualities of drugs. A sad disaster to Mr. Erambert brought upon me the full work of the establishment. It seems that a number of Chapel Hill students collected in the store on Saturday night after I had started home. The young men were in various degrees of intoxication. Mr. Erambert was at the dispensing scales cleaning his pistol. Some words ensued between a young man named “Pink” Shelly and he fired shooting Jack Costin in the fleshy part of his buttock. Mr. E. by this time had his pistol loaded. He went to the front door, pistol in hand, and he and Shelly must have shot at the same time, and Mr. E. fell to the pavement with his thigh broken. I heard firing and returned to the store and found matters in great disorder. The wounded were carried home, Mr. E. to be confined for six months. This left me in the possession of the business, and as I had no experience as a drug merchant, and as Mr. E. was too sick to talk business, I was in trouble. I had to go to the store after breakfast and stay until 9 o’clock at night, closely confined.”

Wood recalled making what might have been a serious error, “Every thing kept for sale in the drug store (and in fact all kind of shopkeepers merchandise) became at once very valuable. The south had no foreign trade, and all drugs came from the North. I made a grand mistake for Mr. E. about this time. He was wounded and could give me no advice and I found that his stock was running quite low. I made up an invoice largely in excess of anything he was in the habit of ordering. I recollect that when he saw the bill he looked frightened. One of the items was a gross of chamois skins, which seemed to be big elephants. It was discovered at an early date that chamois was in demand for sword covers, and that in fact everything found a ready sale. What would have been a blunder was a fortunate adventure – for as the intercourse was quickly suspended with the north everything in the drug store was in demand.”

Owing to Mr. Erambert’s wound, I was confined to the store with out exercise in the open air, until I was very thin and poor, and had a bad attack of dyspepsia. I did not join my regiment until Sept. 1862. ”

Writing of his time at the front, about the time of  The Seven Days Battle Before Richmond, Wood recounted, “We saw Jackson coming in towards Mechanicsville as we were going into battle. The next day he appeared upon McClellan’s flank and the works in front of us were evacuated. The next day I was decidedly unwell, but there were many others who were on the complaining list, and I did not want to be considered a coward. But at least I submitted my case to the doctor and he gave me a pass to the rear and I made my way to Richmond. I could have gone further but I was so weak that I thought there were signs of fever coming on and I sought the house of Capt. Sam. W. Skinner who then lived on Church Hill. He was a brother-in-law of Louis Erambert, and treated me very kindly. He sent for his family physician, Dr. Knox, who had me under treatment for several days. All day and all night we could see and hear in Richmond the signs of the raging battle. I was sick about two or three weeks,…”

About the time that T. F. Wood was stationed in the surgical unit above Richmond, the residents of Wilmington, NC were experiencing a severe Typhoid epidemic.  It is probably because of this epidemic that Louis Erambert moved his family, his pregnant wife, Sallie, and two young sons, Louis P. and Samuel S.  to Fayetteville, NC.  It was there that their third child, Annie, was born on July 16, 1862.

Ironically, Louis B. Erambert died of yellow fever, in September,  just a couple of months after Annie’s birth, and was buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, NC.

The Cape Fear River Steamers

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Posted by on April 8, 2009 in Uncategorized


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