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The Greely Expedition | Article

Members of the Greely Expedition

The Greely Expedition crew. National Archives.

This group photo of the Lady Franklin Bay expedition team was taken in 1881 before departure for the Arctic to gather scientific data. Led by Adolphus Washington Greely, the volunteer expedition team consisted of U.S. military officers and enlistees, two Eskimos, and one medical doctor. Twenty-two of the 25 men are pictured here. All in good physical health when they left, none had previously been to the far north, and only six would survive after the team was abandoned in the Arctic for three years.

First Lieutenant Adolphus W. Greely
Born: March 27, 1844
Survived the expedition

A Civil War veteran, Adolphus Greely led the Lady Franklin Bay expedition with strict military discipline. After surviving the expedition, Greely lobbied the U.S. Army to honor the promotions he had made in the field, and he worked to publish the scientific data that the team had collected. Greely continued his successful military career, retiring at age 64 and receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1935. He died on October 20, 1935.

Second Lieutenant Frederick F. Kislingbury
Born: December 25, 1847
Died: June 1, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

A personal friend of Greely's whose wife had just died, Kislingbury may have been suffering from a nervous breakdown when he signed on to the expedition as the second in command. After just a few weeks at Fort Conger, tension between Greely and Kislingbury mounted, and Greely ordered Kislingbury's resignation. Kislingbury gathered his belongings and went to board the Proteus, but the ship was already pulling out of the harbor. With no official role, he spent the next few years doing odd jobs. After his death, the remaining survivors were too weak to carry his body to the makeshift cemetery, and his body remained outside the tent.

Second Lieutenant James B. Lockwood
Born: October 9, 1852
Died: April 9, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

James Lockwood became second in command of the expedition shortly after arriving at Lady Franklin Bay. He participated in several exploratory excursions, and he and Brainard led the mission to reach "Farthest North" on May 13, 1882. Greely considered Lockwood "cheerful and considerate."

Dr. Octave P. Pavy
Born: June 22, 1844
Died: June 6, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

While Octave Pavy, a surgeon, lacked any formal military training, he had extensive experience in the Arctic region. After the first relief ship failed to arrive at Fort Conger, Pavy volunteered to make an advance trip with Lt. Kislingbury to Cape Sabine in the summer of 1883, where, had Greely allowed it, Pavy would have left detailed instructions for the second relief ship. His relationship with Greely became strained, ultimately leading to Pavy's resignation and "arrest," in July 1883, after which he was not allowed to leave camp.

Sergeant David L. Brainard
Born: December 21, 1856
Survived the expedition

Chief of the enlisted force, David Brainard was responsible for keeping the men busy and moving around, particularly during the coldest winter months of the expedition. He and Lockwood led the successful "Farthest North" trip, beating the British record by four miles, and he was one of Greely's most trusted men. As the food ran low, Brainard was in charge of doling out rations, and toward the end he caught miniscule shrimp, without which everyone likely would have perished. After surviving the expedition, Brainard continued his military career, serving as chief Commissary of the Military Forces during the Spanish-American War in 1898, and he published two accounts about the expedition. He was the last survivor to die, passing away March 22, 1946.

Sergeant George W. Rice
Born: June 29, 1855
Died: April 9, 1884 of exposure while trying to retrieve a cache of meat

Hired as the expedition photographer, George Rice was one of the most popular men in the group. He was a member of one of the two teams that took part in the "farthest north" attempt, though his team had to turn back when the terrain became impassable. Greely described Rice's "indomitable pluck and great enduring powers," and he earned a reputation for being inexhaustible, particularly towards the end when he ceaselessly helped search for food.

Sergeant William H. Cross
Died: January 18, 1884 of scurvy and malnutrition at Camp Clay

Working primarily as an engineer at Fort Conger, William Cross had a reputation for often being "full of beer." He was the first member of the expedition team to die after he developed scurvy, a disease caused by deficiency of Vitamin C.

Sergeant Hampden S. Gardiner
Died: June 12, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

Hampden Gardiner recorded weather and tidal data and specialized in making instruments. He rebuilt a chronograph -- an instrument for observing the stars in connection with Earth's rotation. Although he broke his leg in November, 1881 and was immobile for nearly three months, Greely said Gardiner's "spirits never failed him."

Sergeant Edward Israel
Born: July 1, 1859
Died: May 27, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

As an astronomer, Edward Israel recorded many valuable observations in the Arctic. He also took magnetic data and gave lectures to the men about the stars and other celestial bodies. A small man, Israel suffered in the cold, even freezing one of his feet while taking routine measurements outside.

Sergeant Winfield S. Jewell
Born: 1850
Died: April 12, 1884 of starvation and exposure at Camp Clay

While at Fort Conger, Winfield Jewell was known for his high energy. Recording meteorological data, Jewell also contributed to the group's entertainment by doing humorous dramatic readings. Greely said that "Jewell showed an endurance and fortitude which surprised many, as his physique was but medium." When William Cross died next to Jewell at Camp Sabine, he became despondent and depressed.

Sergeant David Linn
Died: April 6, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

With what Greely described as an "iron endurance," David Linn reportedly repeated the maxim "United we stand, divided we fall" almost daily during the winter. In 1883, Linn was demoted for uttering a "disrespectful remark" towards Greely, after Greely instilled a new rule requiring his permission to wander for an "extended absence" from Fort Conger.

Sergeant David C. Ralston
Born: October 3, 1848
Died: May 23, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

A meteorological observer at Fort Conger, Ralston was injured when he was hit on the head by a dog-sledge that the wind had lifted off the ground during a storm. He also suffered from snow blindness during his time in the Arctic. When he died at Cape Sabine, his body was the last that the remaining men had the strength to carry to their makeshift burial ground, located up a small hill from the tent.

Sergeant Joseph Ellison
Born: 1849
Died: July 8, 1884 aboard rescue ship Neptune of starvation and injuries sustained in the Arctic

Joseph Ellison served as a carpenter while in the far North, pitching tent shelters, and repairing and readying sledges for excursions. At Camp Sabine, Ellison suffered severe frostbite and gangrene, causing one foot and one finger to fall off. Once rescued, doctors amputated Ellison's hands and legs, but they could not save him. When he died, Ellison weighed just 78 pounds.

Corporal Nicholas Salor
Died: June 3, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

Nicholas Salor was a member of the supporting party for the Farthest North party.

Private Jacob Bender
Born: July 5, 1852
Died: June 6, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

Jacob Bender helped out with sledge repairs and cooking at Fort Conger. Also a tinsmith capable of building stoves and lamps, Bender rarely participated in exploration trips. He died minutes before Dr. Pavy and his body was never recovered.

Private Henry Biederbick
Born: January 1859
Survived the expedition

After being rescued, Henry Biederbick went to work as a customs inspector in New York. for the U.S. Weather Bureau in Indianapolis. Author of two publications on Musk Ox and Polar Hospitals, Biederbick was active in the National Geographic Society, Explorers' Club, and the Arctic Club until his death on March 25, 1916.

Private Maurice Connell
Born: February 1,1852
Survived the expedition

While at Fort Conger, Maurice Connell assisted in meteorological observations and was in charge of the chronograph during experiments. After rescue, he worked for the Signal Service of the U.S. Army and for the Weather Bureau. He died in June 1921.

Private William A. Ellis
Died: May 19, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

Known for being both strong and active, William Ellis came in first at the 1881 Thanksgiving Day 100-yard footrace at Fort Conger. After Ellis got bad frostbite in his feet a few months later, Greely described his "remarkable fortitude and determination during the whole affair, which was especially creditable to him." When his body was recovered later, flesh had been removed.

Private Julius Frederick
Born: 1852
Survived the expedition

At 5'2" tall, Julius "shorty" Frederick served as the regular cook at Fort Conger. In April 1884, Frederick, while on a mission to find food, goes 12 miles out of his way to bury George Rice who had succumbed to hypothermia. After surviving, Frederick worked as an assistant observer for the U.S. Weather Bureau. He named his two daughters Thetis and Sabine after the cape where his party was stranded and the ship that had rescued him. He died on January 6, 1904 of stomach cancer.

Private Charles B. Henry
Died: June 6, 1884 after being shot at Camp Clay

At Fort Conger, Charles Henry helped with recording meteorological and tidal data. Though he began the expedition as the heaviest crewmember at 203 pounds, once the provisions ran low at Cape Sabine Henry was caught several times stealing food. In June of 1884, after Henry was caught again, Greely warned that the next person to steal food would be shot. The next day, caught sneaking shrimp from the mess pot, Henry was shot, an act considered fair by all members of the party.

Private Francis Long
Born: 1852
Survived the expedition

Known for being cheerful, Francis Long worked as a hunter and a cook at Fort Conger. After surviving the Greely Expedition, Long went on another polar expedition in 1901 -- the Baldwin-Ziegler Expedition which would attempt to reach the North Pole. He died on June 8, 1916.

Private Roderick H. Schneider
Died: June 18, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

At Fort Conger, Roderick Schneider raised 15 puppies to lead sledging trips. He became so adept at driving the dog sleds, himself, that his comrades compared his skills to those of an Eskimo. Schneider also had a reputation as an entertainer, amusing the men with his impersonation of the "Eskimo belle" while dressed in the native Inuit costume. On his death bed at Camp Sabine, Schneider begged the men for opium pills to help speed along the process and end his suffering.

Private William Whisler
Died: May 24, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

The lightest man on the expedition, William Whisler weighed just 156 pounds when he arrived in the Arctic. The weather had a poor effect on him, causing him to have chest pains and to vomit up blood. Greely noted that exposure to cold "affected Private Whisler's mental faculties."

Frederick Thorlip Christiansen
Born: 1846
Died: April 5, 1884 of starvation at Camp Clay

An Eskimo guide from Proven, Greenland, Thorlip Christiansen was recruited on July 24th as one of two hunter and dog drivers on the Arctic expedition. Christiansen accompanied Lockwood and Brainard on the successful trip to reach Farthest North.

Jens Edward
Born: 1843
Died: April 24, 1884 of drowning near Cape Sabine

An Eskimo guide from Proven, Greenland, Jens Edward was recruited on July 24th as one of two hunter and dog drivers on the Arctic expedition. Known as "Eskimo Jens," he had a reputation as a good seal hunter, and Greely described his "kind heart." While hunting seal from Camp Sabine in the spring, Edward fell through the ice and drowned.

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