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stores. They finally arrived in England at the end of September, 1854. McClure had solved the long-sought problem, and had passed from ocean to ocean over seas and channels which it might be reasonably supposed were sometimes navigable. His great discovery was rewarded by knighthood, and by the distribution to his officers and crew of the reward of ten thousand pounds promised to the discoverers of a northwest passage.
Scarcely inferior in interest was the voyage of the "Enterprise.” In the summer of 1850, Collinson penetrated a short distance to the north and east of Behring's Strait; but he was finally obliged to return, and wintered at Hong Kong. Early in the following year he started again, and rounding Point Barrow at the end of July, pushed cast very nearly in the track of the “Investigator.” Passing up the Prince of Wales Strait somewhat farther than McClure had been able to go, he was at last forced to winter in Walker Bay, at the southern end of the Strait. In the spring of 1852 various sledge parties were sent out, one of which went as far as Melville Island. It was not, however, until September that the vessel was free from the ice. Returning down the Strait, Collinson proceeded a short way up the west side of Banks Land, and then turning south and east reached Cambridge Bay, on the southern side of Wollaston Land, where he wintered. From this point he was compelled to retrace his course, and he finally returned to England by way of Behring's Strait.
Shortly after the departure of the “Enterprise” and “Investigator," the "Resolute,” Captain Austin, and the “ Assistance,” Captain Ommanney, were sent out with two screw tenders, the “ Pioneer" and the “Intrepid.” These vessels sailed from Greenhithe on the 4th of May, 1850, for the purpose of carrying on the search through Lancaster Sound. Captain Ommanney was the first to reach Cape Riley and Beechey Island, where he arrived on the 23d of August, and where he found positive traces of the missing expedition in scattered remains of their first winter-quarters. A few days later he was joined by Captain Austin, and subsequently both ships tried to ascend Wellington Channel, but without success, and as early as the 13th of September they were forced to go into winter-quarters at Griffith Island. In the following spring numerous and well-equipped sledge parties were sent out in various directions, but without discovering any further traces of the lost ships. On the breaking up of the ice, in the early part of August, an attempt was made to examine Jones Sound, but very little was accomplished, and in September the vessels returned home.
Closely connected with this expedition was another under the command of Captain William Penny, an experienced whaling master. By direction of the British government two new vessels were purchased, the “ Lady Franklin,” of two hundred tons, and the “ Sophia,” of one hundred tons. Penny was appointed to the command of the first, and the second was assigned to Alexander Stewart, a young man then serving as mate of a whaling vessel, but who had already made five voyages to Davis Strait. The vessels were fitted for sea at Aberdeen, from which port they sailed on
the 13th of April, 1850. After visiting the west coast of Greenland, where Penny secured the services of an interpreter, who proved a most useful and important helper, they pushed westward through Melville Bay. Here they met Austin's ships, and during the remainder of the voyage they were in frequent communication with him or his officers. The two expeditions wintered within a few miles of each other, Penny having been obliged to go into winter-quarters in Assistance Bay, on the southern coast of Cornwallis Island, a few days after Austin was frozen in. Sir John Ross, who had been sent out at the expense of the Hudson's Bay Company in the yacht "Felix," also wintered in the same place; but as his voyage was not productive of any important results, it does not require notice here. Early in the spring Penny organized a very complete system of sledge journeys, by which a thorough exploration was made of Wellington Channel and Cornwallis Island It was his own opinion that Sir John Franklin had passed through Wellington Channel, and we now know he was right in this opinion; but it was not shared by his officers nor by Captain Austin. As it was not practicable, or even safe, for him to remain in the ice a second winter, he determined to return home as soon as his vessels were free, and reached Scotland with them in September.
In June, 1850, another vessel was sent out, mainly at the cost of Lady Franklin. This was the “Prince Albert,” of ninety tons, Captain C. C. Forsyth, who was directed to make an examination of Prince Regent's Inlet. He descended the inlet as far as Fury Beach, when he was compelled by the ice to return. He then worked his way as far west as Wellington Channel, where he communicated with the other expeditions, and, returning to England in October, carried the first information of the discoveries of Austin and Penny at Cape Riley and Beechey Island.
More interesting than these fruitless voyages was the United States Grinnell Expedition, which sailed from New York on the 22d of May, 1850, and arrived there on its return in September, 1851. It consisted of the “Advance,” of one hundred and forty-four tons, and the “Rescue,” of ninety-one tons, both owned by Mr. Henry Grinnell, and lent to the United States government.
They were, however, officered and manned by the government, and the expedition must be considered in part a private and in part a national undertaking. At its head was Lieutenant Edwin J. De Haven, and the second in command was Acting Master Samuel P. Griffin ; but the name most commonly associated with it, as well as with a later expedition, is that of its surgeon and historian, Dr. Elisha K. Kane. The united crews of the two vessels, including officers, numbered only thirty-three per
After leaving New York, both vessels proceeded direct to the west coast of Greenland, where they arrived at the end of June, and then worked through Lancaster Sound, and as far west as Cape Riley. Here the traces of Franklin were again found, and examined, only two days after their discovery by Ommanney. At the end of August Cornwallis Island was reached, and in a few days seven of the searching vessels were assembled
there. Subsequently they succeeded in getting as far as Griffith Island, where they made fast to the ice. Further progress that season was impossible, and on the 13th of September De Haven determined to try and return to the United States, in accordance with his instructions. Shortly afterward his vessels were frozen into the ice in Wellington Channel, up which he drifted nearly to the upper end of Cornwallis Island, discovering in the distance high land, to which the name of Grinnell Land was given. They were utterly helpless, and continued to drift north until the ad of October, when the direction of their involuntary movement changed, and they began to drift south again. Drifting slowly down Wellington Channel, they were carried through Barrow Strait and Lancaster Sound into Baffin's Bay, and it was not until the 4th of June that the floe in which they were immovably fastened broke up, and it was three or four days later before they were entirely free. It had been a long, dreary, and dangerous bondage, up to that time without parallel in Arctic navigation. On becoming free they again made for the coast of Greenland to recruit, with the intention of returning to Wellington Channel for the further prosecution of the search. But having been again caught in ice through which they were not able to force their way, the attempt was relinquished. The expedition had failed to throw any new light on the fate of Franklin, and its only important addition to Arctic geography was the discovery of Grinnell Land; but the story of the long drift will always be read with interest.
During the absence of so many expeditions there was naturally a lull in the preparations for a further search ; but in April, 1851, Dr. Rae, under instructions from the British government, descended the Coppermine River, and then turning east traced the southern coast of Wollaston Land to its junction with the Victoria Land of Simpson. Subsequently he ascended the eastern coast as far as Pilly Point, opposite to the northern extremity of King William's Land. No traces of the lost ships were discovered, though Rae was not far from Franklin's winter-quarters, and was still nearer to the place where the ships were abandoned; but considerable additions were made to the knowledge of the coast lines, and the conduct of the expedition reflected great credit on its head.
Meanwhile the “ Prince Albert,” having been refitted by Lady Franklin, was dispatched again on the 3d of June, 1851, under command of Captain William Kennedy, for a further examination of Prince Regent's Inlet. Failing to get through the ice to the western shore of the Inlet, and after the accidental separation of Kennedy and four of his men from the vessel for several weeks, winter-quarters were established in Batty Bay. Early in the new year preparations were made for a careful examination of the land by Kennedy and his chief officer, Lieutenant Bellot, a gallant young Frenchman, who had obtained leave to join in the search, and who was afterward drowned, to the grief of all who knew him. In one of their journeys Bellot Strait was discovered, and, misled by the appearance of Peel Sound, which seemed to offer no passage for vessels, Kennedy, instead of examining King William's Land, confined his explorations to the Prince of Wales Island. If he had not been diverted from the original plan of his voyage, he would probably have been the first to discover the fate of Franklin and his companions. As it was, Kennedy only added another to the list of heroic men who endured untold hardships in the endeavor to solve the dark problem and just missed the answer. He threw no light on it, though he travelled more than a thousand miles in his sledge journeys; and in October he returned to England.
On the return of Captain Austin from his fruitless search it was at once determined by the British government to send out a new expedition, and ample preparations were made to insure its success, if possible. But unfortunately the chief command was given to Sir Edward Belcher, who, with an overweening confidence in his own wisdom, seems to have fallen far short of his predecessors in energy, perseverance, and good judgment. His squadron consisted of his own ship, the “Assistance"; the “Resolute,” under Captain Kellett, who had already shown himself to be an able and active officer; of two screw tenders, the “Intrepid" and the “Pioneer," commanded respectively by F. L. McClintock and Sherard Osborn, both of whom afterward gained a high reputation ; and of a store-ship, the “North Star,” Commander Pullen. These vessels sailed from Greenhithe on the 21st of April, 1852, and, after being detained for some time on the western coast of Greenland, took their final departure from Upernavik on the 20th of June. In accordance with Belcher's instructions, the expedition was to carry on the search in two divisions, — one ship and one tender going up Wellington Channel, while the other ship and the other tender were to push forward to Melville Island. Belcher selected for his own part of the work the northern and eastern field of operations, and with the "Assistance" and "Pioneer" ascended Wellington Channel as far as Northumberland Sound, on the northwest coast of Grinnell Land, where he went into winter-quarters on the 18th of August. Numerous sledge parties were sent out as usual during the autumn and spring, and a great extent of coast line was examined. About the middle of July the vessels were released from the ice, and Belcher decided to retrace his course; but his progress was soon arrested by the ice, and as early as the middle of the following month the vessels became stationary. Here, on the eastern side of the Channel, about midway between its northern and southern extremities, they remained in nearly the same position until the summer of 1854.
Meanwhile, Kellett and McClintock had succeeded in reaching Dealy Island, a small island near the southern coast of Melville Island, where their vessels were secured for the winter on the roth of September.
Immediately afterward parties were sent out to make the necessary preparations for extensive journeys in the spring. One of these parties discovered at Winter Harbor the journal of McClure's successful voyage, left there a few months before, and thus obtained the first knowledge that the problem of a northwest passage had been solved. Early in March another party was
dispatched to communicate, if possible, with the “Investigator,” which object was successfully accomplished in a little less than a month. On the arrival of this party McClure determined to proceed in person the next day to Melville Island for the purpose of consulting with Kellett, his senior officer. Leaving the “Investigator” on the 7th of April, he arrived on board of the “Resolute" on the 19th, “having accomplished the whole distance of one hundred and sixty miles in the short space of twelve days, a feat not surpassed by any Arctic traveller under the same circumstances.” 1 As the result of their consultation, and after a medical survey of the officers and men by the two surgeons, McClure was directed to abandon his ship. This was done on the 3d of June, 1853 ; and on the 17th her entire crew, numbering sixty-one persons, reached Melville Island, and were distributed between the “Resolute" and the “Intrepid.” On the 17th of August, the two vessels were driven out of their winter-quarters; and a month later they were frozen into the pack, and it became necessary to secure the vessels for a second winter. They continued to drift, however, until the 5th of November, when they became permanently fixed. Kellett's preparations for the winter were made with the same care and forethought as if he had been in a perfectly secure harbor. Schools, lectures, and theatrical performances varied the monotony and kept up the spirits of all hands, an electric telegraph was set up between the two vessels, and plans were made for a continuation of the search in the following year.
But Belcher, availing himself of the large discretion which his instructions allowed him, had already determined to abandon all the vessels rather than remain in the ice a third winter. Positive orders were therefore sent to Kellett to withdraw all the men and proceed to Beechey Island; and on the 15th of May, 1854, the hatches were fastened down and the “Resolute" and the “ Intrepid ” were abandoned. Their crews reached Beechey Island at the end of the month; and subsequently the crews of all the vessels composing Sir Edward Belcher's squadron were embarked on the “North Star" and two other vessels sent out for their relief. They finally arrived in England early in October. A court-martial was at once held, and Kellett and McClure were honorably acquitted, each having acted in obedience to positive instructions from a superior officer. Belcher was also acquitted, the court finding that he had not acted “beyond his orders." This decision was in exact accordance with the facts, but it left wholly untouched the question of Belcher's fitness for the duty assigned to him, and tacitly admitted his want of good judgment.
The story of the “Resolute" does not end with her abandonment. About the middle of September, 1855, she was discovered in the ice in Davis Strait by an American whaling vessel, the bark “George Henry,” of New London, Captain James M. Buddington. Captain Buddington immediately took possession of her, and by skilful management succeeded in taking her into New London, where she arrived on the 24th of December. The British
1 McDougall, Voyage of the Resolute, p. 220.