Imagens das páginas

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

VOL. VIII. — 7

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.” 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

ssession of her, and by skilful management succeeded in taking her into New London, where she arrived on the 24th of December.• The British government having waived all claim to the abandoned vessel, she was purchased by the United States government, refitted at the Brooklyn navy yard, and sent to England as a present to the queen. She reached Spithead on the 12th of December, 1856, and on the 30th of December was formally delivered to the British government.

1 McDougall, Voyage of the Resolute, p. 220.

Only a few months after the return of the Grinnell expedition, its surgeon, Dr. Kane, began to mature plans for a renewed search, and to interest individuals and organized bodies in the subject. Mr. Grinnell again offered the use of the “ Advance,” and other persons made important contributions to secure her efficient equipment, while as before the commander acted

[graphic][merged small]

under orders from the government. The “ Advance" sailed from New York on the 30th of May, 1853, having on board eighteen persons in all. Kane's plan was to ascend Baffin's Bay as far as practicable, and then to search for the missing ships in a region hitherto wholly unexamined. In the prosecution of this design he penetrated nearly to the seventy-ninth degree of latitude, the farthest point at which any vessel had hitherto wintered. Here his progress was finally arrested on the 29th of August. “During the winter which followed,” says Dr. Kane, "the sun was one hundred and twenty days below the horizon ; owing to a range of hills toward our southern meridian, the maximum darkness was not relieved by apparent twilight even at noonday."1 Here the “Advance” remained

1 Arctic Explorations, vol. ii. p. 304. * From a reproduction of a photograph in Nourse's Halls Second Expedition (Washington, 1879).

until the 17th of May, 1855, when it became necessary to abandon her, on account of the enfeebled condition of the crew and the insufficient quantity of stores remaining. The whole crew, with the exception of one man who died on the way, were then transported by boats mounted on sledges to Upernavik, which was reached on the 6th of August, eighty-three days after leaving the “ Advance.” During their long imprisonment nothing was found to throw light on the fate of Sir John Franklin ; but Kane and his companions were not idle, and in their sledge journeys they examined a wide extent of coast and made some important discoveries. To sum up as briefly as possible what had been accomplished, it may be said that the coast of Greenland was examined as far as the great Humboldt Glacier, beyond which land was discovered and named Washington. Still farther north, it was believed, an open sea was seen ; but later discoveries have shown that this was a mistake. On the opposite shore of Smith Sound and Kennedy Channel, the name given to its northern extension, the coast of Grinnell Land was carefully examined and laid down on the chart. The aggregate distance travelled by the various exploring parties was nearly three thousand miles, and about half of this distance was performed by Kane in person.

As nothing had been heard from him after his arrival at Upernavik in July, 1853, much anxiety was felt for his safety, and in February, 1855, Congress passed a resolve authorizing the dispatch of one or more vessels for his relief. Two suitable vessels, the bark “Rescue” and the steamer “ Arctic,” were procured, specially fitted for the work, and placed under the command of Lieutenant Henry J. Hartstein, of the United States navy, who sailed from New York about the first of June. Reaching Disco on the 5th of July, he forced an entrance into the north water about the middle of August, and after pushing as far north as seventy-eight and a half degrees, found traces of Dr. Kane's expedition. He also learned from some Eskimos whom he met that the vessel had been abandoned somewhere to the north, and that Kane and his companions had gone to Upernavik. Thereupon he turned south, and at Disco had the good fortune to meet the whole party, who had engaged passage for the Shetland Isles in a Danish brig. They were at once taken on board of the relief vessels, and reached New York on the rith of October.

While these various expeditions were engaged in the search for Franklin in waters which he had not visited, or had left safely behind him, the Hudson Bay Company again sent Rae to Repulse Bay, which he reached the middle of August, 1853, and where he passed the winter. At the end of March he resumed his journey, and on the 17th of April, at Pelly Bay, fell in with the Eskimos, from whom he obtained various articles which were at once recognized as having belonged to Sir John Franklin or to officers under his command. The stories told by the Eskimos were no doubt false

1 Among these relics were a small silver plate, of silver forks and spoons, marked with the inion which was engraved in full the name of Sir tials of officers in the expedition. John Franklin, and also a considerable number

« AnteriorContinuar »