"Most of us are out of our right minds. I fear for the future." --Lt. Adolphus Greely
Twenty-five men went north. Only six returned alive.
In July 1881, an expedition comprised mainly of American soldiers sailed off to establish a scientific base in the remote Arctic region of Lady Franklin Bay. What happened then is a remarkable three-year saga of human achievement and human fallibility, of heroism, hardship, bad luck and worse judgment. Compounded by deliberate political negligence back home, particularly on the part of Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the late president, and increasingly fierce dissension in its own camp, the expedition's fate, and those of its would-be rescuers, would eventually encompass starvation, mutiny, suicide, shipwreck, execution . . . and cannibalism.
Until now, the story has been only partly known and full of dark riddles, but more than seven years of research by acclaimed historian Leonard Guttridge have uncovered journals, letters, diaries, and other documentary material that for the first time provide intimate day-by-day details of the swirling thoughts, feelings, and events of that ill-fated voyage--from turbulent birth to bizarre and tragic finale. The result is a work of nonfiction narrative that reads like a novel--a raw, vivid, harrowing adventure, brilliantly told.
"Most of us are out of our right minds. I fear for the future."- Lieutenant Adolphus Greely
It was 18 September, 1883. Twenty-five men huddled in their sleeping bags on an ice floe grinding erratically through the shifting ice and swirling currents of the Arctic's Kane Basin. They were the men of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, sent north to establish a base for scientific exploration and observation, and now engaged in a fight for their lives.
The expedition had had a turbulent birth, marked by scandal and political infighting in Washington, D.C., where the Secretary of War, Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the late president, had shown marked antipathy to the whole project. As a result, when the approval finally had come, the expedition had had to assemble in haste, and it showed, from the equipment to the ships to the personnel, a group composed primarily of Army Signal Corps soldiers with no experience in the Arctic.
Once up at Lady Franklin Bay, the personality ...
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