A Lengthy Deployment: The Jeannette Expedition in Arctic Waters as Described in Annual Reports of the Secretary of the Navy, 1880-1884.
Annual Reports of the Secretary of the Navy 1880-1884
[Excerpts on the Jeannette Expedition]:
"The Jeannette" from the Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1880. (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1880): 29-30.
By the act of February 27, 1879, the Secretary of the Navy was authorized to accept and take charge of, for the use of a North Polar expedition by way of Behring's Straits, the ship Jeannette, the private property of James Gordon Bennett, esq., and by him devoted to that purpose. He was also authorized to use any material on hand in fitting the vessel for this voyage, upon the condition that the department should not be subject to any expense on account thereof. The vessel was accepted under the provisions of this law, and after a thorough examination it was deemed best, on account of the hazardous nature of her contemplated voyage, that her capacity to resist the pressure of the ice should be increased. This conclusion was precautionary merely, inasmuch as she been well constructed and was believed to possess ordinary strength. Accordingly, a large amount of work was done upon her at the expense of Mr. Bennett. She was furnished with new boilers, and put in as perfect condition as possible before leaving the port of San Francisco, July 8, 1879. Iron box-beams were introduced abaft and forward of the boilers to strengthen her sides. Additional wooden hooks were introduced and fastened through and through. Her extreme fore-end, to the extent of about ten feet from the spar-deck down, was filled in with solid timber and calked. Additional strakes and plank six inches thick were introduced to strengthen her bilge, and her deck frame was renewed where required. All these repairs were so carefully made as to give every reasonable assurance that the vessel would be able to overcome any of the ordinary perils incident to navigation in the Polar Seas.
Sail Plan of the arctic steamer Jeannette
The Jeannette was placed under the command of Lieut. Commander
George W. De Long, and Lieuts. Charles W. Chipp and John W. Danenhower
were detailed as his assistants.
The only communication received by the department from Lieutenant De Long, since he left San Francisco, was dated August 26, 1879, at St. Lawrence Bay, Siberia. He says: "I have hopes of reaching Wrangel Land before going into winter quarters," and there is no reason to doubt that he made every effort possible to courageous and
"Arctic Expeditions - The Jeannette, the Rodgers, and the Alliance," from the Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, November 28, 1881. (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1881): 6-10.
The act making appropriations for sundry civil expenses of the government approved March 3, 1881, contained the following clause:
"To enable the Secretary of the Navy to immediately charter or purchase, equip and supply a vessel for the prosecution of a search for the steamer Jeannette, of the Arctic exploring expedition (which the Secretary of the Navy is hereby authorized to undertake), and such other vessels as may be found to need assistance during said cruise, one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars: Provided, That said vessel shall be wholly manned by volunteers from the Navy."
In the execution of this duty, which had devolved on me, the first step was to obtain a suitable vessel for the service to be undertaken. But little time remained in which to procure, prepare, equip, and man her, and to dispatch her to the Arctic regions in season to prosecute a search before severe winter should set in.
A course through Behrings Strait being manifestly the proper direction for the expedition, there was no time left to charter or purchase a vessel on the Atlantic coast and to send her round to the Pacific. A vessel had, therefore, necessarily to be provided on the Pacific coast. The department was able to find at San Francisco a steam whaler well adapted, with some alterations and additions, to the emergency.
The Mary and Helen, a comparatively new and strong vessel of proper size, was offered for sale to the government. A board of experienced officers thoroughly inspected her, and upon their recommendation and such knowledge of the vessel as could otherwise be obtained, the department decided to purchase her. This step was considered more advantageous than to charter the vessel, as her qualities would render her a desirable vessel for use in the naval service upon her return from the expedition. The sum of $100,000 was the least at which she could be purchased. Under all the circumstances, that sum was not considered exorbitant, and she was accordingly purchased.
On the 14th of March I convened at the Navy Department a board of officers, to whom the duty was intrusted of suggesting the best plan for carrying out the act of Congress above mentioned. The main subjects for the consideration of this board were: 1st, the direction of the search; 2d, the means best adapted to it; 3d, the details of the search expedition.
The board was composed of Rear Admiral John Rodgers, Capt. Jas. A. Greer, Lieut. Comdr. Henry C. White, Lieut. Wm. P. Randall, Lieut. R.M. Berry (recorder), Paymaster Albert S. Kenny, Surgeon Jerome S. Kidder. They were officers of great experience, and most of them had been identified with earlier Arctic expeditions and exploration in that region. They made a thorough investigation of the whole subject, in the course of which they examined many gentlemen who had been engaged in the whaling service, and some of whom were the last who had seen the Jeannette. This board, on the 26th of March, submitted a full, interesting, and valuable report of the results of their deliberations.
The direction of the search, the means best adapted for it, and the details for it were minutely and admirably defined. There was nothing remaining to be done but to carry out as far as practicable the suggestions of the board.
The name of the Mary and Helen was subsequently changed by me to the Rodgers, in compliment to the distinguished naval officer who was the president of the search expedition board. The vessel was at once strengthened at the navy-yard, Mare Island, and officered and manned and provisioned not only with supplies for the officers and crew of the Rodgers, but also with ample provision for the relief of any of the people of the Jeannette or the missing whaling vessels that might be fallen in with.
The command of the Rodgers was given to Lieut. Robert M. Berry, an officer in whom the department has the greatest confidence, and who volunteered for this service. The other officers were also volunteers. As on all previous occasions, where bold and hazardous services were to be required, the difficulty of the department lay in making a selection out of the number of gallant officers of the Navy who volunteered for this adventurous expedition.
The Rodgers sailed from San Francisco June 16, and arrived
at Petropautooski, Kamtschatka, July 19, and at Saint Lawrence
Bay August 18. From the Russian authorities and the officers of
the Russian vessels stationed or cruising in the arctic regions,
Lieutenant Berry has received every facility and all the information
which they were able to afford in furtherance of the object he
has in view. The Rodgers left Saint Lawrence Bay August
19, and the next morning entered the Arctic Ocean in company with
the Russian corvette, Strelock. After touching at Serdze
Kamen for information, a partial examination was made of Herald
Island by a boat sent in for the purpose, and on the 25th of August
the Rodgers anchored in a harbor on the southern coast
of Wrangel Land, to the westward of Cape Hawaii. She remained
there until September 13, during which period Wrangel Land, or
rather Wrangel Island, as Lieutenant Berry found it to be, was
examined by three exploring parties organized for the purpose;
but no tidings of the Jeannette nor of the missing whaling
vessels could be obtained. Interesting reports from Lieutenant
Berry, with charts and sketches of Wrangel Island, will be found
in the appendix to this report. The whole coast of the island,
with the exception of a few miles of outlying sand spits, was
examined, and Lieutenant Berry believes it impossible that any
of the missing parties ever landed there. The country is indebted
to Lieutenant Berry and the party under his command for their
energetic labors while at Wrangel Island, the results of which
have satisfactorily established the character of that formation,
and the probability that the Jeannette never touched there.
On September 14 the Rodgers again visited Herald Island,
and a boat was sent in for further examination. The eastern end
of the island was pulled around but no landing could be effected.
On the 16th the Rodgers left Herald Island and proceeded
to the northeastward as far as latitude 73 degrees 44' north,
longitude 171 degrees 48' west, which was as far as the ice pack
would permit; returned to the northeast point of Wrangel Island,
and took a course in a northerly and westerly direction in the
hope of finding the high land north of Wrangel Island, reported
as "situated in 178 degrees west longitude, and extending
as far north as 73 degrees north latitude, as the eye could reach,"
by Captain Smith, of the whale bark New Bedford. She crossed
the 178th meridian and reached a position in latitude 73 degrees
28' north, and longitude 179 degrees 52' east, and then recrossed
the same meridian in 73 degrees north without sighting land, the
horizon and sky being at the time clear to the northward.
The Rodgers returned to Herald Island and finished its examination, which was fruitless so far as finding any traces of the missing parties. Proceeding thence to the coast of Siberia, Lieutenant Berry examined the coast from the ship to the eastward to a point as far as Cape Serdze, and there put up a house and left a party of six, under command of Master C.F. Putnam, to remain for the winter. They were bountifully supplied with clothing, provisions for one year, dogs, sledges, &c., and will explore the coast in search of the Jeannette's crew and the survivors of the Mount Wollaston and Vigilant.
The Rodgers left on the 8th October, and arrived at Saint Lawrence Bay on the 15th, where the ship was to be put in winter quarters. When the ice opens next summer she will proceed first to Plover Bay, fill up with coal, then to Saint Michaels for mails, and afterwards return to the Arctic, take up the party at Cape Serdze, and continue the search.
In order to avail itself of every possible means of relieving the Jeannette, or her officers and crew in the event of her loss, the department determined, last spring, to send a naval vessel to search for the missing ship between Greenland, Iceland, and the coast of Norway and Spitzbergen, at least as far north as 77 degrees latitude, and as far as 77 degrees 45' if it should be possible to get there without danger from the ice. This determination was upon the suggestion of the liberal and public-spirited citizen through whose munificence and disinterested efforts to contribute to the cause of science the Jeannette was sent upon her voyage of exploration. The United States steamer Alliance was selected for this service, and Commander George H. Wadleigh was assigned to her command.
The vessel was ordered to proceed to the Norfolk navy-yard, where special preparations were immediately commenced for her cruise. The bow of the ship was sheathed with live oak of the proper thickness, with a strong iron guard on the stem to form a protection against drift ice. Every other precaution was taken to fit her, in all respects, for her voyage. On the completion of these preparations, full instructions having been given and all necessary charts and sailing directions having been furnished, the Alliance left Hampton Roads on the 16th of June on her mission. While she was not fitted for arctic exploration, but only as a relief ship, her commanding officer was instructed to make such observations as opportunity permitted for the benefit of navigators and in aid of science. She carried an extra supply of provisions and clothing in case she should fall in with the Jeannette or any of her party. She reached St. John's, Newfoundland, after a passage of eight days, and, on the 9th of July, made the port of Reikjavik, Iceland. On the 24th of that month she arrived at the port of Hammerfest, Norway, having anchored en route of Seidis Fiord. While at Reikjavik, Commander Wadleigh distributed papers containing a description of the Jeannette, printed in Icelandic, and offered a reward for any reliable information in regard to that vessel. He was kindly aided in his efforts in this direction by Governor Finssen at Iceland, and Governor Blackstat at Hammerfest. On the 29th of July the Alliance proceeded to Bel Sound and Green Harbor, Spitzbergen. After cruising as far as latitude 80 degrees 00' 36" north, and longitude 8 degrees 14' 30" east, she was stopped by the pack ice. She sailed along the edge of this pack and succeeded, on the 20th of August, in reaching latitude 80 degrees 10' north, longitude 11 degrees 22' east, and as far east as longitude 13 degrees 15' east and latitude 79 degrees 58' north, about 10 miles northwest of Welcome Point, beyond which the ice was impenetrable. In latitude 79 degrees 49' north, longitude 11 degrees 15' east, on a bowlder in the middle of a small bight west of Hukluyts Headland, Amsterdam Island, a copper plate, marked with the ship's name, was spiked. A spike was also driven in a natural tablet on the cliff bearing northeast and north from the plate, and the cliff was also marked with the name of the ship. On the 27th of August the Alliance left Spitzbergen, and cruised under sail until September 11 when she returned to Hammerfest. She left that port on the 16th and again proceeded to Spitzbergen, and reached as far north as 79 degrees 3' 36". While in port, Commander Wadleigh obtained specimens of the bottom; the beaches were searched for drift-wood; floral and geological collections were made, and specimens of birds and animals were collected. At sea, near the land or ice, a careful watch was kept for anything promising to throw light on the object of the cruise. Fishing vessels were communicated with, and furnished with a description of the Jeannette. The position of the Alliance, in a sealed bottle, was thrown overboard every day, and all observations were made as carefully as possible with the means at command. On the 25th of the September the ship left Spitzbergen on her return to the United States; arrived at Reikjavik the 10th of October; at Halifax, Nova Scotia, the 1st of November; and on the 11th at New York. I regret to say that the Alliance proved unsuccessful in the main object of her cruise.
The last communication received at the department from the late Lieutenant-Commander George W. De Long, commanding the Arctic exploring steamer Jeannette, furnished and equipped by James Gordon Bennett, Esq., was dated August 26, 1879, at Saint Lawrence Bay, Siberia. From the records now in the department, it appears that on the following day the Jeannette started north, skirting the Siberian coast to obtain the tidings of the Vega. August 31, 1879, she stood to the northwest, toward Wangel Island. Drift ice was met and the weather was stormy. Pack ice was encountered afterwards, and the course of the vessel turned more to the northward. Herald Island was sighted to the westward on September 4. The next day the Jeannette entered the pack through the best looking lead in the direction of Herald Island. Young ice was met, through which the vessel was forced by ramming, but before night her progress was checked and she was secured with ice-anchors. On September 6 another effort was made to reach Herald Island, but only a slight advance could be made. Two days later there was no sign of a lead in any direction; the vessel was frozen in solidly, and never again escaped from the pack. The ice drifted, carrying the vessel with it, with varying force and direction. The ship inclined under the pressure of the ice, and precautions were adopted to keep her upright. During October, 1879, Wrangel Island was at times in sight. Herald Island was in sight once, on October 3.
Astronomical and meterological observations were made whenever practicable throughout the period of the Jeannette's imprisonment in the ice. A winter routine was put in force November 1, 1879, and measures were taken to maintain, as far as possible, the cheerfulness, health, and comfort of all.
In January, 1880, the vessel was found to be leaking from the pressure of the ice. The pumps were started with difficulty, and though the leak decreased they were used from that time until the vessel was abandoned.
The second winter in the ice was passed much as the first. The health of officers and men, with a few exceptions, had remained good until the spring of 1881, when it was somewhat impaired. Jeannette Island was discovered May 17, 1881, the vessel being then about 500 miles northwest of Herald Island. A few days later Henrietta Island was discovered. A sled party landed, hoisted the national ensign, and took possession in the name of the United States.
The Jeannette crushed in the ice.
The sinking of the Jeannette.
|During the night of June 10 the ice opened beside the vessel, which then righted, being once more afloat. The ship was secured to the ice by lines, and, as there were indications of a break-up, the rudder was shipped and preparations made for making sail. No serious difficulty was apprehended in keeping the vessel afloat and navigating her to port if she should escape from the pack. But the ice closed in again with such force as to crush the sides of the Jeannette, and her fate was decided. Boats, sleds, instruments, provisions, and stores were put on the ice, and the ship was abandoned. She sank during the night of June 12, 1881.|
Dragging the boats over the ice.
|On the recommendation of the surgeon, a delay of a few days followed, after which the toilsome retreat began, across ice and water. About four weeks later Bennett Island was discovered. After remaining here for some days, the party embarked for the New Siberian Islands, which were reached safely. September 12, 1881, the thirty-three persons composing the officers and crew of the Jeannette left Simonoski Island in three boats. The boats were shortly separated in a gale of wind. The second cutter, carrying eight persons, has not been heard of since that time. The officers and men were Lieut. Charles W. Chipp, commanding; William Dunbar, Alfred Sweetman, Walter Sharvell, Albert G. Kuehne, Edward Star, Henry D. Warren, and Peter E. Johnson.|
East Siberia, Lena Delta: Showing Track of Search for Jeannette Party by Lieutenants Harber and Schuetze U.S.N., 1882.
|Lieutenant-Commander George W. De Long's boat, the first cutter, carrying fourteen persons, reached the Lena delta; the party landed September 17, 1881, and proceeded inland, leaving records of their condition and process at several points. Owning to illness and exhaustion, slow progress was made. Some game was obtained at first, but this failed afterwards. October 6, one of the men died. Three days later two men, William F.C. Nindemann and Louis P. Noros, were sent ahead to seek help, the others following as well as their weak state would permit. Another man died of exhaustion from starvation, on October 17.|
Two days later a camping place was found, and after this no further progress could be made. The enfeebled men died of starvation, one by one. The last entry in the pathetic record left by De Long is dated October 30, 1881. Soon after this the three who were then alive must have died. The party which thus perished were Lieutenant-Commander George W. De Long, commanding; Surgeon James M. Ambler; Jerome J. Collins, naturalist; Hans H. Erichson, Heinrick H. Kaack, George W. Boyd, Walter Lee, Adolph Dressler, Carl A. Gortz, Nelse Iverson; the cook, Ah Sam, and the Indian, Alexy.
Chief-Engineer George W. Melville had been placed in charge of the whale-boat, Lieut. J.W. Danenhower's eyes having been so seriously affected for many months that he was on the sick list. The whale-boat party reached the eastern shore of the Lena delta and was conducted by natives to an inhabited village, arriving September 26; nearly all were badly frost-bitten. An effort was made to proceed toward Belun, the nearest Russian settlement. This was unsuccessful, but a message was sent to the Russian commandant at that place, asking transportation for the party.
News was received October 29 that Nindemann and Noros were on their way to Belun. A note from Nindemann, written at random, was brought to Chief-Engineer Melville, asking any one who could to render aid to De Long's party. Mr. Melville procured a dog team, and set out for Belun, where he found the two seamen sick. After receiving their reports, he went to a place where dog teams and provisions were to be furnished him, and there he met the rest of the whale-boat party. Lieutenant Danenhower was given orders to take the whole party south to Yakutsk.
Melville pushed his search to the northern extremity of the delta, with great difficulty and much suffering from exposure and scarcity of food. He secured the log-books of the Jeannette, and other effects, which had been left in a cache, but the missing party could not be found. After three weeks of determined effort, it became evident that they must have obtained assistance from the natives or have died. Upon his return to Belun, Melville learned that nothing had been heard of the lost party and was forced to the conclusion that all had perished. As the search for the dead could be made better in the spring, he took his men to Yakutsk. There orders were received to spare no effort or expense to ensure the safety of the second cutter, and to send the sick and frozen of those already rescued to a milder climate as soon as practicable. Lieutenant Danenhower was given charge of a party of men and the effects which had been recovered, and left Yakutsk January 10, 1882, for Irkutsk. He afterwards asked permission of the department to remain and institute a search for Lieutenant Chipp's party, but was ordered home.
Melville finding DeLong and party.
|Mr. Melville completed the necessary arrangements and continued the search. Between March 23 and March 27, 1882, the bodies of Lieutenant-Commander De Long's party were found. After giving them proper burial, a search was made for Lieutenant Chipp's boat, but with no result, though several parties were at work along the coast for two weeks.|
Mr. Melville returned to Yakutsk and proceeded thence to Irkutsk, arriving at the latter place July 5, where he received permission from the Department to return home with his party.
The following joint resolution of Congress was approved August 8, 1882:
"That the Secretary of the Navy be requested to convene, as soon as practicable, a court of inquiry to investigate the circumstances of the loss in the Arctic seas of the exploring steamer Jeannette, and of the death of Lieutenant-Commander De Long and others of her officers and men, including an inquiry into the condition of the vessel on her departure, her management up to the time of her destruction, the provisions made and plans adopted for the several boats' crews upon their leaving the wreck, the efforts made by the various officers to insure the safety of the parties under their immediate charge and for the relief of the other parties, and into the general conduct and merits of each and all the officers and men of the ill-fated expedition, and to submit the finding of such court of inquiry to Congress."
In compliance with the foregoing joint resolution the Department ordered a court of inquiry, consisting of Commodore William G. Temple, president, Capt. Joseph N. Miller, and Commander Frederick V. McNair, members, and Master Samuel C. Lemly, judge-advocate. This court is now engaged in the prosecution of its duties.
The Search Expeditions
The United States steamer Rodgers, commanded by Lieut. Robert M. Berry, which was engaged in a search for the Jeannette and for missing whalers during the autumn of 1881, went into winter quarters at St. Lawrence Bay, Siberia, in October. On November 30 a fire broke out in the forehold of the vessel. All efforts to extinguish it proved unavailing, and the vessel was abandoned.
The natives were hospitable, but their resources were limited, and to lessen the burden the officers and crew were distributed among five villages.
Lieutenant Berry, desiring to carry out the object of the expedition, although his vessel was lost, set out from Saint Lawrence Bay to organize a search of the coast and to communicate the loss of the Rodgers to the department, having first made provision for the comfort and safety of those under his command. Master Howard S. Waring was left in charge at Saint Lawrence Bay.
Master Charles F. Putnam, one of the officers of the Rodgers, had been placed in command of a shore depot near Cape Serdze, to search the coast. Learning that the vessel was burnt, he set out for Saint Lawrence Bay with provisions. On his return to Cape Serdze, he missed his way while crossing Saint Lawrence Bay in a blinding snow storm, January 10, 1882, and drifted out to sea on an ice-floe. He was seen several days later, and an earnest effort was made to reach him in a canoe, but the attempt failed, because the thin ice cut the boat. Master Waring, on hearing of this disaster, left Ensign George M. Stoney charge at Saint Lawrence Bay, and made a minute search of the coast for a month, but without avail.
Some time after leaving Saint Lawrence Bay, Lieutenant Berry heard that Putnam had drifted out to sea, but received from natives a report that he had reached the shore in safety. It was not until February that he learned the truth.
On the 8th of February Lieutenant Berry left Cape Serdze, accompanied by Ensign Henry J. Hunt. Following the coast to the westward, they heard that the missing whalers Vigilant and Mount Wollaston had drifted in shore, and that their crews had either died or had deserted the vessels. After a severe journey they arrived at the Russian post of Nishne Kolymsk on the 24th of March.
Information was received at this place of the landing of part of the Jeannette's crew at the mouth of the Lena River, and Lieutenant Berry continued his journey until he came upon the traces of Chief-Engineer Melville's search party.
Learning that the latter had completed his search, Berry followed and overtook him. The party proceeded to Yakutsk, where Berry intended to fit out a new expedition, but information was received that Lieutenant Harber had been detailed to make a summer search, and Lieutenant Berry then returned home. Ensign Hunt was ordered to report to Lieutenant Harber for duty.
The party which had been left at Saint Lawrence Bay in charge of Master Waring was received on board the whaling bark North Star, owned by William Lewis, of New Bedford, and commanded by Capt. Leander C. Owens, who had gone to Saint Lawrence Bay at great inconvenience to transport the party to any port desired. The North Star left May 14 for Ounalaska, but falling in with the revenue-cutter Corwin, commanded by Lieut. Michael A. Healy, the Rodgers party was transferred to the latter vessel and arrived at San Francisco June 23,1882.
Lieutenant Berry earnestly recommends that the Chukches about Saint Lawrence Bay be suitably rewarded for their hospitality, to encourage them to aid the crews of any of our whaling or other vessels that may be wrecked upon their coast.
Lieut. Giles B. Harber and Master W.H. Schuetze were ordered by the department of February 2, 1882, to special duty in connection with the search for the survivors of the Jeannette. They proceeded to Siberia, and Lieutenant Harber and his party have prosecuted their search with energy, but have not succeeded in getting any intelligence of Lieutenant Chipp's party.
In pursuance of a resolution of Congress, approved August 8, 1882, a court of inquiry concerning the loss in the Arctic seas of the exploring steamer Jeannette was convened, composed of Commodore William G. Temple, president; Captain Joseph N. Miller and Commander Frederick V. McNair, members, and Master Samuel C. Lemly, judge advocate, which met October 5, 1882, and on February 17, 1883, the record of its proceedings and findings were submitted. The conclusions reached by the court were to the effect that the condition of the Jeannette on her departure was good; that her management was marked by judgment and prudence; that she was crushed by a pressure of ice that would have annihilated any vessel; that the contingency of the loss of the vessel had been provided for, and that the plans for adopted upon leaving the wreck were judicious; that proper efforts were made by the various officers to ensure the safety of the parties under their immediate charge, and that everything possible was done for the relief of the other parties; and that after the separation of the three boats on September 12 there is no further record of Lieutenant Chipp's party.
The court also found that there was no occasion to impute censure to any one connected with the vessel, and that "the general conduct of the personnel of the expedition seems to have been a marvel of cheerfulness, good fellowship, and mutual forbearance, while the constancy and endurance with which they met the hardships and dangers that beset them entitle them to great praise;" also that special commendation is due to Lieutenant-Commander DeLong for the high qualities displayed by him in the conduct of the expedition; to Chief Engineer Melville for his zeal, energy, and professional aptitude, which elicited high encomiums from his commander, and for his subsequent efforts in the Lena Delta; and to Seamen Nindemann and Sweetman for services which induced their commander to recommend them for medals of honor. The court, having adjourned February 12, was reconvened March 30 for the examination of those survivors of the expedition who had in the mean time returned from Siberia, and submitted a final finding on April 23, to the effect that no modification was requisite in the conclusions previously reported. The findings were approved by the Department.
Lieut. Giles B. Harber and Lieut. W.H. Schuetze were ordered by the Department on February 2, 1882, to proceed to Siberia and prosecute the search for the missing officers and men of the Jeannette. They arrived at Irkutsk on March 25, and, after fruitless efforts to obtain a suitable steamer, proceeded in boats to Yakutsk, and thence to the Lena Delta, arriving at Bulun July 3. From this time until October 31 the party was engaged in making a careful search of the Lena Delta and of the adjacent coast as far as Olenek on the west and the Jana River on the east, a distance of over one thousand miles. Every part of the coast was thoroughly explored, and every effort made by personal inspection and by questioning the natives to find traces of the lost party, but without success.
Grave of DeLong and party.
|By the Act approved August 7, 1882, Congress made an appropriation of $25,000 to defray the expenses of removing and transporting to the United States the remains of Lieutenant-Commander George W. DeLong and his companions, eleven in all, and for their proper burial within the United States. Upon the same day instructions were sent by cable to St. Petersburg, to be forwarded thence to Lieutenant Harber, charging him with the execution of this duty. Being at that time occupied with the search in the Lena Delta, he only received the instructions upon his return to Yakutsk, November 29. The necessary permission from the Russian authorities was received at Yakutsk January 25, 1883. On the day following, Lieutenant Harber left Yakutsk for the Lena Delta, and using all possible dispatch, returned with the remains on March 29. As the winter season was nearly over, during which alone the removal to Orenburg, the nearest railway point, could be effected, arrangements were made by Lieutenant Harber to remain at Yakutsk until the following season. As soon as winter travel is practicable, the bodies will be transported to Orenburg, and thence to the United States.|
Lieutenants Giles B. Harber and William H. Schuetze, who had been employed in the continued search for the missing boat's crew of the Jeannette, and subsequently in executing the orders of the Department issued in pursuance of the act of August 7, 1882, relative to the removal of the remains of Lieutenant-Commander De Long and his companions, remained in Siberia during the summer of 1883, awaiting the return of cold weather, during which alone the transportation could be effected. The bodies in their charge were those of Lieutenant-Commander George W. De Long, Surgeon James M. Ambler, Jerome J. Collins, Walter Lee, Adolph Dressler, Nelse Iverson, Carl A. Gortz, George W. Boyd, Heinrich H. Kaacke, and the cook Ah Sam. They had been removed from the grave in the Lena Delta and placed in temporary sealed cases at Yakutsk.
The sled train with the bodies left Yakutsk November 28, 1883, arriving at Orenburg, the nearest railway point, on January 16, 1884. At the principal cities on the route the train was received with military and civil honors by the local Russian authorities. At Orenburg the remains were taken to the hospital and transferred to the metallic burial cases sent from the United States, after which they were placed in a special car. On January 24, Lieutenants Harber and Schuetze started for Hamburg via Moscow and Berlin, reaching their destination February 2. Similar honors were paid at important points on this journey. At Hamburg the bodies were transferred to the steamer Frisia, of the Hamburg American Packet Company, which sailed for New York February 6, and arrived February 20.
The bodies were landed at Hoboken, N.J., and were conveyed
on February 22, in the tug Nina, to the Battery, where
they were received with suitable honors. The escort was composed
of a detachment of seamen and marines, a battalion of the Regular
Army, and two regiments of the National Guard of the State of
New York. Funeral services were held at the Church of the Holy
Trinity, on Madison avenue, after which seven of the bodies, among
them that of the Lieutenant-Commander De Long, were buried at
Woodlawn Cemetery. The remaining three, being those of Dr. Ambler,
Mr. Collins, the meteorologist, and the coal-heaver, Boyd, were
delivered to their friends for interment at the places designated
by the latter.