The Navy Department Library
EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY OF REAR ADMIRAL GIBSON
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On Sunday afternoon May 20th, 1883, the N.A. Squadron, composed of the “Tennessee” (Flag Ship), “Kearsarge,” “Yantic” and “Vandalia” got under way in a dense fog and proceeded to sea. They had no charge in the weather and the Sandy Hook Light Ship was the first thing sighted after leaving Hampton Roads. The Squadron anchored in the N.R., New York about noon on Tuesday 22nd.
Thursday 24th. The Squadron moved over to the East River and anchored in column below the bridge. Manned yards and saluted with 21 guns when the President crossed the Bridge and saluted with 21 guns when the Bridge was declared open. The Squadron moved back to an anchorage in the North River the same evening.
On Decoration Day, May 30th, the Battallion of infantry and artillery landed and took part in the parade.
On Friday, June 1st, while engaged in taking in coal, an order came for the “Yantic” to proceed to the New York Navy Yard and prepare for sea. After much hurrying and driving, the coal was taken on board, the ship unmoored and steamed to an anchorage off the Ordnance Wharf. During the night the current caused a schooner to swing foul of the “Yantic” inflicting slight damage.
Saturday, June 2nd, hauled alongside the Ordnance dock and orders were received to prepare the ship for a trip to the North, accompanying the Greely relief expedition as far as Littleton Island.
June 5th, the battery and ordnance stores were landed.
June 7th, went into dry dock where the bow was sheathed with oak 5 inches thick at the stern and tapering to 2 inches in thickness, extending aft about 50 feet. Iron plating 3/8 in. thick extending aft about 7 feet from stern was out on over the wood. This sheathing extends from the water line down to the 7 foot mark.
Monday 11th. Hauled out of the dry dock and made fast alongside the yard, filled up with coal and finished taking in stores.
Tuesday 13th. At 4 P.M. left the Navy Yard having on board Lieut. Garlington, 7th U.S. Cavalry; Dr. Harrison, a civilian who goes with Garlington; and 7 privates of the U.S. Army. Steamed up the East River, through Hell Gate and out through Long Island Sound.
June 14th. Anchored at noon in Vineyard Haven, the wind being fresh from the east.
June 15th. Got under way at 5, proceeded across Nantucket Shoals. Spent a couple of hours swinging ship to ascertain compass errors and about 1 P.M. passed the Pollock Rip and shaped our course for St. Johns, Newfoundland. The weather was foggy during the entire passage, and the temperature at times as low as 42o, was keenly felt by all of us. The mercury had been as high as 93o within a few hours of our departure from New York.
June 21st. Arrived at St. Johns and anchored in the harbor about 2 P.M. The ”Proteus” which is to convey Garlington and his party to Lady Franklin Bay is loaded and hoisted all her bunting in honor of our arrival. While at St. Johns, the sheathing on the ship’s bow was raised 2 feet. A fresh supply of coal taken on board, about 203 tons in all, 73 tons in bags on deck. All things being ready at 4 P.M. on Friday, June 29th, the “Yantic” and “Proteus” steamed out of St. Johns harbor both bound to Disco in Greenland. The weather was bright and clear, the fairest since leaving New York and there was fine SW breeze to which we set all sail and with that the engines, the “Yantic” made 10 knots. The “Proteus” hugged the Newfoundland shore, and at dark we had lost sight of her. Course NE 1/2 E.
Saturday, June 30th. A fine breeze from SW blowing up to noon when it commenced to moderate, was very light at 6 P.M. and finally died out. Passed our first icebergs today, a grand sight, four or five in sight at once. The smallest of them not less than a hundred feet in height and of various fantastic forms which changed as the ship sailed past them. On one large one there were two streams of water trickling down from the summit. Lat. 50o.07' N. Lon. 50o.03’ W. at noon, distance made good 147 miles.
Sunday, July 1st. A damp, murky, foggy day. Very light airs from SW, ship having little more than steerage way. Propeller uncoupled from the engine and only two fire lighted under boilers for distilling water and heating ship. Passed one berg today of medium size. About 10 P.M. a light breeze sprang up from North and the weather became clearer. A light roseate colored streak along the Northern horizon preceded this breeze. Lat. 50o.54’ N, Lon. 51o.03’ W at noon –distance 49 miles.
Monday, July 2nd. The breeze which sprang up yesterday evening hauled gradually to the SW and has continued all this day sending the ship along from 4 to 6 knots. Weather delightfully clear and pleasant. Took advantage of the fair weather and aired the bedding of the crew. Passed through some patches of small ice and several bergs. One resembled the Sphinx, a most remarkable resemblance. As we sailed by it, the shape gradually changed until it resembled the figure of an Assyrian Lion, with the fore paws extended but the head broken off. Then the berg gradually assumed the shape of an irregular mass of rocks with the sea breaking at the base. Lat. 51o.42’ N, Lon. 50o.47’ W at noon. Distance 60 miles.
Tuesday, 3rd July. Our fine SW wind continued all night, the ship sometimes logging 8 knots. Towards daylight this morning, weather became cloudy and then showery. After 9 A.M. the wind commenced hauling to the West and in the afternoon settled at NW. The weather foggy at times became clear rapidly growing longer as we go North. It is not dark until after 9 P.M. and daylight is with us again by 3 A.M. long days and short nights are a great comfort in navigating these waters which are full of ice. No icebergs visible today. It is probable that the ice through which we have sailed has drifted in SE direction from the coast of Labrador. Lat. 54o.00’ N, Lon. 51o.03’ Wat noon. Distance 142 miles.
Wednesday, July 4th. Another beautiful day. Wind backed from NW to SW and fell light. Breezed again slightly towards evening. Weather as fair and pleasant as could be desired, but temperature cool. Days growing longer; sunset at 8:40. We did nothing on board in celebration of the day. Lat. 56o.14’ N, Long. 50o.59’ W. Distance 134 miles.
Thursday, July 5th. Wind light from SW during night, hauled
Gradually to SE and breezed up – weather thick and rainy. Wind from SE blew until noon when it fell calm, and about 1:30 a breeze sprung up from NNE and gradually hauled to NW, sending the ship along 6 ½ to 7 knots on a wind. The weather cold and a gloomy, leaden sky overhead and all around. The “Yantic” carries her deck load of coal comfortably and stands up very well under her canvass. Lat. 57o.55’ N, Lon. 51o.33’ W. Distance 104 miles.
Friday, July 6th. The wind moderated during the night, hauled to the South, and at 8 A.M. the “Yantic” was logging over ten knots with Royals set wind on Stb. Quarter, about South, as there is about 4 points of Westerly variation that is about SE true. This wind lasted all day and sail was gradually reduced until at 8 P.M. she was running under close reefed to sails and double reefed foresail. A heavy sea following and a moderate gale blowing from SE. There have been many pretty heavy squalls of wind and rain, one of sleet. Weather overcast and misty. Passed the Lat. Of Cape Farewell, the South point of Greenland this morning and are at this writing (9 P.M.) fairly into Davis Straight. Lat. By Obs at noon 60o.19’ N. Lon. 51o.50’ W. Distance run, 138 miles.
Saturday, July 7th. Our SE gale continued to blow all night, moderating at times and blowing again in hard squalls accompanied by rain. Heavy sea running. Considerable water tumbled on board, and as our deckload of bags of coal prevented a free flow of water to the scuppers, it remained on deck and considerable coal had to be moved in order to let the water run off. The port of our 8 in. Rifle Gun was stove in by the sea, but, fortunately, I was able to repair it, though I got a thorough drenching while directing the operation. The temperature of the air was at 41o and the sea water 39o, and a bath was the reverse of comfortable. There was good daylight all night long, or rather, there was no night, and today orders were issued to discontinue the use of our running lights until further orders. The wind gradually moderated and sail was gradually made until everything was set by 2:30 P.M. This afternoon icebergs were in sight and we have been sailing past them for several hours. All that we have seen today were quite small, but large enough to seriously damage the “Yantic” if she should strike one of them. The sea has become smoother, and whereas yesterday evening all retired, this evening the Officers have gathered around the Ward Room Table and are playing cards.
The Captain is the anxious man. He persists in passing all of his time on deck. He cannot continue it long or he will break down. The gale of yesterday was the heaviest, and sea behaved beautifully. Lat. 63o.37’ N, Lon. 54o.09’ West. Distance 217 miles.
Sunday, July 8th. Our fair wind still blows, but much more moderately. This morning the snow clad mountains of Greenland are plainly visible about 25 miles off. A long continued line of sharp craggy peaks with all the indentations full of snow. As bleak, barren and inhospitable a coast as I ever looked upon. There is no landmark that we have been able to recognize today. The weather has been very pleasant, a perfect day. A number of icebergs in sight all day. A brig in sight close under the land all day, and about 7 P.M. another sail in sight to the South, both bound in the same direction as the “Yantic”, the first vessels we have seen since leaving St. Johns. I am writing this at 10:30 P.M. in my room by daylight, the sun still above the horizon. Nearly every officer had something to say this morning about “Greenland’s Icy Mountains.” Lat. 66o.07’ N, Lon. 54o.44’ W. Distance, 142 miles.
Monday, July 9th. Nearly calm all night. Light breeze from North sprung up about 8 A.M. and shifted to West after 1 P.M. and became very light, ship having little more than steerage way for several hours. The brig which was to the south and inshore of us yesterday caught up during the night and while turning to windward against the Northerly breeze this A.M. passed twice within speaking distance. She is the “Constance” of and from Copenhagen for Disco. The weather has been very pleasant, but a breeze would be preferable to lying in a calm within 150 miles of port. Another vessel in sight this afternoon in a bay, standing out. Lat. 66.42 N, Lon. 54.31 W. Distance, 50 miles.
Tuesday, July 10th, 1883. Another day of calms and light variable airs. Ship has had but little more than steerage way during the whole 24 hours. This morning there were two brigs in sight. The second one, which was in shore when first seen, had worked ahead of us and was in close company with the “Constance”. Several whales sporting near the ship – also a few ducks. The sun was above the horizon at midnight
and we now have daylight during the entire 24 hours. Large quantities of Kelp floating by us. Several icebergs in sight. Foggy during a few hours, but generally bright, clear weather. Lat. 67.21 N, Lon. 54.43 W. Distance, 40 miles.
Wednesday, July 11th. Another uneventful day. Sea smooth as mill pond occasionally ruffled by a light catspaw of wind. About 8 P.M. a light breeze from the East sprang up and there is a prospect of our getting in to Disco tomorrow. Numerous bergs in sight in every direction. A mirage which duplicates all the objects around the northern horizon produces some very singular effects. The coast of Greenland in sight, barren, treeless and snow covered, a veritable land of desolation. Lat. 67.30 N, Lon. 54.27 W. Distance, 34 miles.
Thursday, July 12th. This morning the wind hauled to the North and freshened, and as there was no prospect of getting in for several days, the Captain ordered steam and at 11 the sails were furled and the engines started. Icebergs very numerous in every direction. Our reckoning proved to be correct and our landfall was an excellent one, although we came very near a sunken rock which we had not expected to see. A boat with a native pilot boarded us a short distance outside the harbor, and about 6:30 P.M. the anchor was let go in 6 ½ fathoms water. The ship lies head to wind SE (Mag) and is moored by the stern with a hawser to the rocks. Found the “Proteus” at anchor. She made the passage in 7 days – has been over to Egedisminde and Rittenbenk, and only returned to this anchorage yesterday. “Proteus” ran into heavy ice the night she sailed from St. Johns. This little harbor of Godhavn or Lievely is a picturesque little spot. It has accommodation for not more than ½ doz. vessels. There are 95 people in the settlement, which consists altogether of about twenty houses large and small. The residences of the Inspector and Governor are quite pretentious in comparison with some of the native cabins, which are partially underground and banked up with sods. The two Govt. Houses are very plain structures, solidly built with high pitched roofs well calculated to shed the heavy snowfalls of the winter.
Friday, July 13th. A damp, disagreeable day, alternate showers of drizzle and rain, with occasional dry intervals. Winds
light and variable in the harbor, but probably from SW outside. Numerous heavy bergs visible over the rocks to seaward. One small one drifted in and grounded near the entrance. The Captain went on shore and called on the Governor and found the Governor of Rittenbenk here, and arranged for the ship to go over to Rittenbenk for a small quantity of coal and afterwards to the mine in the Waigatt Straits for 50 tons more, the natives to mine it. The same kind of weather prevailed on Saturday, July 14th, excepting that the rain fell more steadily and there was some hail and sleet. The tops of the mountains enveloped in dense fog and covered with snow. Yesterday the bare, brown stone tops, today the visible portions white with snow. The wind freshened from the NW(Mag) and another anchor with hawser was carried ashore from the stern and secured to the rocks. But the wind afterwards moderated. I went over to a bay on the NE(Mag) side of the harbor to look for a stream of fresh water. Found a beautiful stream of clear water running down from the mountains and a good beach, so that there will be no difficulty in getting fresh water for the ship. The beach was strewn with Caplin, a small fish like the sardine, and which come on to the Coast of America in the summer and are used as bait in the Cod fishery. I landed at the bottom of a ravine between two mountains. The ground a short distance from the water is covered with a dense, matted growth of small plants, apparently growing on turf, as it is soft and elastic under foot pressure. I saw many specimens of a variety of dandelion very similar to our own and a great many small plants in blossom. I gathered a dozen specimens. The dogs to be used in sledge travelling were taken on board the “Proteus” today and made a tremendous noise. All the dogs in the settlement came down to the beach to see them off and set up a most dismal howling. The little steamer “Sofia” came in soon after midnight and visits have been exchanged between her Commander and ours. Professor Nordenskiold and his party scientists sailed from Gothinberg in the “Sofia” on May 23, got into the ice on the NE coast of Iceland and failed to land; then attempted to land on the Eastern coast of Greenland, but could not get nearer than 40 miles, found the ice extending 40 miles off Cape Farewell. Nordenskiold has landed at Fiord and is provisioned for 50 days. His party consists of ten men and they make their journey into the interior on foot. He expects to find the country in the interior on foot. He expects to find the country in the interior free from the perpetual ice of the country in the interior free from the perpetual ice of the coast. The “Sofia” will go as far North as Cape York,
her scientists making examinations of the coast and collecting specimens. The two young men who are on the “Yantic” for that duty are very enthusiastic and have enlisted all the Steerage into assisting them in their work. The mercury has stood all day at 52o in the Ward Room and it is decidedly uncomfortable. Had a lamp lighted to warm the apartment.
The rain fell steadily all day on Sunday, July 15th. The wind moderated from SSE. (Mag) and in the afternoon several squalls came SW which put considerable strain on our stern hawsers. As a preventer in case of their parting, the second anchor was let go under foot. At 10:30 the bell rang in the little church on shore and the natives could all be seen running from their houses at bell ring. The little Steamer “Sofia” left the harbor this morning and went to sea, notwithstanding the fog and a heavy sea outside. The “Proteus” has laid all day with steam up, but did not start. Probably a gale of wind is blowing up through Davis Strait, but does not blow home on to these mountains. A swell is setting into this harbor which causes the “Yantic” to roll all day at 52o and outside about 42o. Lamps lighted and every one burning candles to produce a little rise in the temperature. The view from the deck is wintry. The mountain tops enveloped in mist and below the vapor snow down to within about 300 feet of sea level. Below that elevation, stunted green vegetation and numerous small streams of water running down from the mountain sides. It rained hard most all Sunday night, but towards morning on Monday, July 16th, it commenced to clear, and the sun shining, but there were streaks of fog which lasted all day. The “Proteus” went out of the harbor at 6 A.M. I hoisted the boiler out of the Steam Launch and lowered her and the sailing launch and bent their sails so as to have them in readiness in case of accident to the ship. The Inspector of North Greenland and the Governor of this district called on the Captain today. I landed after dinner, took a hasty walk through the settlement, called on the Governor and returned on board. He is a young man, unmarried, who has been here alone three years. His life, he admits, has been a dull one. I examined the Kayaks, or skin boats, of the natives; also the oomiak, or woman’s boat, made of seal skins. They are both very skillfully and ingeniously
constructed, and it is wonderful to see the men paddle about in these frail craft. There is a fishy odor pervading the whole place and I had not sufficient curiosity to cause me to penetrate to the interior of one of the native houses. The house of the Governor is very plainly, but substantially, furnished and his housekeeper set before me, at once a cup of very good coffee.
Tuesday the 17th July was a fair a day as I have ever seen, a perfectly cloudless sky and atmosphere as clear as I have ever seen. The temperature was 70 on deck at noon, but the mercury in the shade did not reach a higher point than 60o. We were very glad to open doors and skylights and let in the dry outer air. The men scrubbed hammocks and we succeeded in drying them. I had all the boats out under sail in the A.M. Our Steam Launch rigged as a sloop works very well. All the younger Officers were on shore today in company with our Naturalists, and our party nearly succeeded in climbing the mountain under the shadow of which we are lying. A Brig in sight in the offing bound in, but the wind is very light and she may not get in until tomorrow. I went on shore with the Captain for a stroll after dinner and went into one of the native houses where the women were making a suit of sealskin clothing for the Captain. It is arranged so that three doors have to be opened and passed before entering the principal apartment. On one side there is a raised shelf on which they all sleep, men, women and children. One old crone was already turned in. There were a number of cheap prints on the walls, and a large stove. The close and fishy atmosphere of the place was very offensive to me, and this is one of the best of the native houses. The women all wear boots and trousers of sealskin and an upper garment of the same material. The married women wear yellow boots, the unmarried go in for red, blue and other colors. All wear the hair in a top knot which has very singular appearance. I was impressed with the idea that they are not a healthy people, and living in so much squalor, I do not see how they could be very healthy. Well fed white men could endure more fatigue or exposure than the Esquimaux. The language is a mixture of Danish and Esquimaux. I also went into the house of Sofia, who is spoken of in Dr. Hayes works and also by other explorers. She was at one time housekeeper for the Inspector, married a Governor of a district, and is now a widow. She is the only female in the settlement at present who wears petticoats. The mosquitoes have been both numerous
and troublesome today, but as the sun disappears behind the mountains, the air grows cooler and the little pests become less numerous.
Wednesday, July 18th. Another beautiful day. Clear and cool and breeze enough from the SSE(Mag) to keep the mosquitoes away. Had the boats out sailing in the A.M. Fitted a new whisker boom. The Brig “Peru” from Copenhaven worked nearly into the harbor and commenced to warp in, when we sent three of our boats and assisted in towing her in. She has been six weeks on the passage and several days off the port. I went on shore in the evening and after a little chat with the Governor and Inspector, came on board again. They gave us a glass of beer brewed on the spot which was not bad.
Thursday, July 19th. Moderate SSE(Mag) wind, a slightly cloudy sky in the early morning which gradually became overcast and in the evening rainy. Made all preparations for getting under way this afternoon when the Captain, returning from the shore, informed me that he had purchased 14 tons coal from the brig “Peru”. About ten tons were received by 6 P.M., when they quit work; so we have to wait until tomorrow. I was on board the “Peru” this A.M. and had quite a chat with her Captain. He has been twenty years Master of vessels in this employ. He tells me that the 8 vessels owned by the company make but one voyage annually and are laid up for the rest of the time. No company of Americans would be satisfied with such moderate returns.
Friday, July 20th. Thick weather and heavy rain. Winds light and variable mostly from the Southwards. Clearing weather about 6 P.M. but afterwards rainy. Took on board the remainder of the coal, making a little over 14 tons in all. Went on shore in the evening with the Capt. and climbed the rocks to the Flagstaff and looked out to seaward. Many bergs in sight. The Whalefish islands visible.
Saturday, July 21st. Another gloomy, rainy day. Wind light from NW (Mag). Weather clearing towards evening. No boats lowered and no communication with the shore today. Finished my quarterly returns.
Sunday, July 22nd. This morning the weather was foggy with a drizzling rain which continued without intermission until noon. After noon the weather commenced clearing and at 8 P.M. the “Yantic” was got under way and steamed out of Disco Harbor.
A salute of 3 guns from the little battery on shore was fired as we steamed out sight. Found the weather outside clear and the sea smooth and steamed into Disco Bay on the South side of the Island. Many bergs in sight, most of them aground presenting the most fantastic shapes. The night continued fine and a favorable run was made, and at 7:00 A.M. July 23rd, the “Yantic” anchored in the harbor of Rittenbenk. Like, Godhaven, it is formed by small rocky islets lying a short distance from the foot of very rugged mountains. The settlement is not quite so large as that at Godhaven, but the Governor is a more genial sort of man and has a wife and children. His house bears eloquent testimony to the presence of a lady. The Governor met with an injury to this right knee when sledging last winter and walks with a crutch. A Lieutenant of the Danish Navy and a party under him are here at work surveying. The ship was anchored heading SSE(Mag) and her stern secured to the rocks by hawsers. The crew worked all day taking in coal and got on board 14 ½ tons. The wind in the afternoon freshened from the SW(Mag) and as that was directly off our Stb. Beam, we had get under way and anchor a little further to the SW and anchor head to wind, and run a hawser to rocks on Stb. Bow and astern. The weather became thick, cold and rainy, and at 10 P.M. it was blowing a half a gale. Several small fragments of icebergs grounded near us. This is one of the most rugged spots I have ever visited. The mountains on the SW side are masses of cold granite, without a particle of vegetation on them. The wind moderated and weather cleared during the night, and at 6 A.M., July 24th, it was calm. Finished coaling, having taken on board in all 19 tons. Got under way at 11:30, steamed out of Rittenbenk and up the Waigatt Strait, and at 6:30 P.M. anchored off the coal cliffs. Found a party of natives at work clearing away the sand and gravel from the vein of coal which comes out from the cliff just above high water mark. The vein has a pitch to the North’d of about 2 feet in 100 – and varies from 8 inches to 2 ½ feet in thickness. The shores of the Waigatt are bold, and steep too. High cloud capped and snow covered mountains on both sides. Many small bergs floating and aground. Our anchor is let go in 7 faths a short half mile from the beach, soft bottom. The weather, unsettled when we anchored continued so until about midnight when a fresh wind sprang up from the SW and sent the ice drifting up towards the “Yantic”.
AT 12 M., July 25th, called all hands, hoisted our 1st Cutter got booms alongside, and braced yards to the wind, which was cold and piercing accompanied by rain. In the morning I
found the sea breaking all along the beach in front of the coal and delayed landing until 9 A.M. Then landed a party of 12 men with pick axes, chisel bars, shovels, etc., to mine coal. The Esquimaux would not get out 10 tons in a week. Our men worked well, soon cleared away the debris which covered the coal, and dug out fully 15 tons by noon. The wind having moderated at 2 P.M., sent in the 1st cutter anchored, and hauled her stern into the beach and loaded her by passing baskets in over the stern. Rigged a skid from her stern to the beach. The water was rough and it was slow work. Took the thwarts out of 2nd cutter and used her in the same way, and as the wind moderated, the beach became smooth and I got on board about 15 tons coal. It burns fairly. Worked the men up to 8 P.M. The wind became very light, nearly calm, and finally hauled round to NE. Weather beautifully clear. The mountain scenery on both sides of this strait is magnificent. The Artic flora is very luxuriant and the ground on the lower hillsides is covered with a perfect carpet of bright colored mosses and small plants in bloom. The weather remained pleasant until midnight, but about 2 A.M., July 26th, a light drizzling rain set in and at 5:30 when hands were turned to, it was raining quite hard. Sent the men ashore in the rain and commenced work. AT 3 P.M. finished coaling, having taken in about 40 tons. The natives were detailed today to carry baskets and did better work than at digging. Filled the tanks with fresh water from a brook on shore and filled the sand locker with disintegrated sandstone being a very fair quality of sand. The Officers have roamed over the hills near the anchorage and today the Paymaster shot a Ptarmigan, the first one seen. Got under way at 6 P.M. and steamed to the North through the Waigatt Strait. Many icebergs floating around and aground. Scenery grand, high mountains on both sides with masses of stone loosened by the frost. The strata of the rocks plainly visible, being marked by the snow which as lodged in the ledges. The weather became clear and pleasant in the P.M. and was beautiful in the evening when we steamed out through the straits and continued so all day on the 27th July. The sea smooth as glass and covered with hundreds of floating bergs. The wind very light from the South in the A.M., hauled to the North in the P.M., and blew a light breeze all night. Passed within 4 miles of Sandersons Hope and at 10 P.M. anchored in the harbor of Upernavik. The Governor came on board before the anchor was let go. He was
pretty full of liquor and those who came with him seemed to be under the same inspiration. It is the most inhospitable place we have seen. Nothing but bare rock. No vegetation of any kind visible from the ship. The water is deep and the anchorage exposed to SW winds which send the ice into the harbor. The natives were out in full force and swarmed on the summits of the cliffs under which we anchored.
Saturday, July 28th. Fair weather. Light northerly winds. A bank of fog to the Westward, alternately lifting and shutting down. Captain went on shore in the A.M. and after his return the Officers went on shore. I landed after breakfast and was met by a Mr. Miller who is Governor of Proven, a settlement about 30 miles from here. He speaks English very well and interpreted for the Governor. The Governor’s house is better fitted up than any that we have seen and contains a piano. The Gov’s wife has some Esquimaux blood but wears dresses. The little chapel contains an organ, and the Minister’s house is the largest in the settlement, which contains about 150 people. The graves on the rocks behind the settlement are numerous and consist only of a pile of stones over the coffin. I pulled round to a little cove on the North side of the Island and put some letters on board the Brig “Lucinda” which is ready and about to sail for Copenhagen. Several of the Officers went out shooting and brought back a number of loons and a few dovekies. A loonery about 4 miles from the ship is full of loons who are now laying and hatching and are easily knocked off the cliffs.
Sunday, July 29th. Light airs from the North (Mag), dense banks of clouds to seaward. Many icebergs in sight. In the afternoon about 4 the fog came in thick. I went on shore in the morning intending to go to church, but found the little building packed with Esquimaux, principally women. As my attempted entrance appeared to stop the service, I did not enter. The odor of seal skin and oil was insupportable. I could not have endured it. I afterwards called at the Governor’s and was informed by him that the service today was in the Esquimaux tongue and that the Sacrament was to be administered. The Governor said that he only attended on Sundays when the service was in Danish. Mr. Miller, the Gov. of Proven, came on board in the afternoon and spent several hours. He is somewhat of a character.
Has been a sailor, has been in all parts of the world, but says he can do better here than at anything else he has tried. His income is about $750 per year.
Monday, July 30th. Weather cloudy, thick to the westward. Winds light and variable from NE to NW (Mag). Not liking the appearance of the weather the ship was moved round to the harbor on the North side and moored with an anchor ahead and hawser from her stern to the rocks. The Danish Brig “Lucinda” is still here and the two vessels are not more than 20 yards apart. As there is no special need of our presence further north, we may as well lay here until the weather clears. The Governor had a stroke of partial paralysis last night, fell and bruised his left eye scribed for him. The sea to the Westward is full of bergs, but no floe ice.
Tuesday, July 31st. Fair weather, light breeze from SW (true) and cloudy to seaward, but no fog. Got under way at 2:30 P.M. and stood out under steam. As we cleared the land, the sun shone out brightly. The sea was very smooth and a light southerly breeze blowing. There are large numbers of immense bergs all round, but no field ice. At 10 P.M. we were off Cape Shackelton, everything working well and a fair prospect of a good run across Melville Bay. Our Port Anchor came up today minus the stock. Improvised another from the iron mast fishes and bands and a couple of wooden fenders. Our Dr. presented the Governor’s little daughter with a doll just before leaving. It seemed to excite great admiration and wonder among the natives assembled on the rocks to witness our departure.
Fine weather continued during the night Wednesday, August 1st. Passed the Duck Islands about 2 A.M. and shaped course for Cape York. Set all sail and with a nice SW (true) breeze, the “Yantic’s” speed was increased to 8 ½ knots, which continued until 8 A.M. The Devils thumb, a peculiar shaped rocky peak, was in sight until 7 A.M. Passed numerous bergs, but no field ice. The wind fell light at 9 A.M. and the square sails were taken in. At 11 a peculiar shaped berg resembling a wreck in appearance caused the Captain to run a couple of miles towards it. The weather became foggy soon after noon and at 5 P.M. it commenced snowing and continued until 8 P.M. Very light airs from the North Sea perfectly smooth. Barometer which stood at 30.30 yesterday noon has gradually
fallen to 30.00 at 8 P.M. Lat. At Noon 74.43 N, Lon. 61.29 W. Distance run, 158 miles.
Thursday, August 2nd. Foggy with clear intervals during the night and A.M. hours. Wind moderate from NE (Mag); ran into the pack off Cape York about 1 A.M. It is all soft and loose and could hardly be called the pack. It is all land ice, which we skirted, and at noon were clear of it, but passed many very large bergs. At noon were off Cape Athol. At 10 stopped off the SE Cary Island and lowered the Whale Boat in which I landed with Lt. Breen, Pay Ray and the Ice Pilot. Found a boat and depot of Provisions belonging to the English and a record from Lt. Garlington who touched here July 21st, having made the passage in 5 days from Disco. The Island is barren of all vegetation, is about 500 feet high and has a cairn on the summit. The depot of Provisions is on the South side of the island. Returned, hoisted the boat and started North. Weather clear and cool, sea smooth. Plenty of bergs in sight. A Record of our visit was also deposited in the stern of the boat on the rocks. During the night passed close to Hakluyt Island and continued on to the North with intervals of clear and foggy weather.
At noon, Friday, August 3rd, the fog lifted and the land on both sides of Smith Sound was visible and we were able to recognize Capes Alexander and Isabella. Stood close in to Cape Alexander and skirted the shore close in from there up to Littleton Island. The sea smooth, bright sunshine, plenty of clear water and many hummocks and bergs in sight, but no pack. Numerous Walrus playing in the water. Stopped about 3 P.M. close to Littleton Island and sent a boat round to the North side of the Island to look for a record. The Capt. went soon after with a party of Officers. Both boats returned without finding anything and the boats were hoisted. Our ice pilot soon afterward discovered a small coal pile on shore and while I was depositing a record in a cairn on the S point of the island, another boat was sent in and a record from Lt. Garlington found. It stated that the “Proteus” was crushed by ice off Cape Sabine on the 23rd July and that all were saved and were retreating south in boats. There was no mention of Capt. Piker or the Crew of the “Proteus”. The record I had deposited was then removed and another being put in the same canister, the whole were deposited where the record from Garlington was found. I ascended the cliffs and examined a cairn on the summit and found a record from the Mr. Beebe
who was up here in the “Neptune” last year. It was addressed to Lt. Greely and gave particulars of his efforts to get north and the location of a cachi on the North side of the Island. A duplicate of this record was found at the coal pile. I noted on it the fact of my having visited the cairn. A fog having shut down over the land on the eastern side of Smiths Sound, it was decided not to attempt to go to Cape Sabine until the weather cleared so we ran in and anchored in Pandora Harbor, a very secure and sage anchorage, protected from all except Westerly winds. It is surrounded by lofty hills rising like the sides of an amphitheatre. I went and examined a cairn on the North side of the entrance and found a record from Capt. Pike to the effect that all his party were safe and going south to meet this ship. I copied the record and noted thereon a record of my visit. Returning on board, I found that another boat had found in a cairn on the south side a record to the same effect from Garlington and stating that the whole party had gone south together on the 27th. The “Yantic” was immediately started South and passed Cape Alexander at 11:30 P.M. bound for Hakluyt Island. Skirted the coast within about a mile Cape Robertson, then stood across to Hakluyt Island and at 7 A.M., August 4th, were abreast the Northern end of it. Steamed entirely round it within ½ mile of the shore, then crossed to Northumberland Island and steamed around the West and SW sides of it, but saw no signs of our shipwrecked party. About ten a dense fog set in and being close to the shore on the south side of the Island, stopped and drifted, there being no wind. A summer encampment of Esquimaux was on the hills near by and a boat was sent to communicate, but they had no news of the party we seek. They are of pure blood, dirty, straight haired, and depending entirely upon the seal for a living, for food, clothing, tents, lights and fuel. These Islands are very high with many ravines in some of which are glaciers. The cliffs are full of birds, young and old, and noise they make is very loud and can be compared to nothing I ever heard. The young birds are very plentiful. I should not exaggerate if I said there were millions of them. They are elder ducks, rotges, dovekies and loons. At 6 P.M. the fog lifted and we stood across to the main land and skirted it within half a mile from Cape Powlet, round Cape Parry and down to the Fitz Clarence Rock. We discovered no signs of the
party and soon after 9 P.M. stood over towards the Cary Islands under steam and fore and aft sail. Weather clear and cool, light breeze from North (true), sea perfectly smooth, and at midnight were close under the South side of the SE Island.
Sunday, August 5th. At .30 min. A.M. I left the ship in the Whale Boat and landed at the Depot of Provisions. Examined the records and found nothing to indicate that the island had been visited by anyone since we touched there on the 2nd inst. I then climbed to the summit of the island and examined a cairn standing there. The island cannot be much less than 500 feet high and the only means of ascent by the bed of a mountain torrent now dry, but filled with broken stones of all sizes which have fallen from the cliffs. Those at the bottom have been worn round. The cairn contained a tin can in which was glass stoppered bottle containing a record wrapped in very thin sheet rubber. It was deposited by Lt. Greely on his way up and is a copy of a record left by Capt. Allen Young of the Pandora in 1876. The original and some other papers were removed by Greely and sent to the English Admiralty Office. There was also a notice left by the “Proteus” on her way up. I sat down on a rock facing the North on the lee side of the cairn and copied these papers. As I sat there, I looked around and the scene was beautiful. The midnight sun facing me about ten degrees above the horizon. A smooth sea dotted here and there by icebergs, the high cliffs of Hakluyt and Northumberland Islands and Cape Parry visible in the NE, their summits snow covered and a belt of fog enveloping them about half way down. The rocky islet on which I was seated was the perfect picture of desolation, but even here a few blossoms were to be found among rocks. It came to my mind that this is the anniversary of my wedding day, 8 years ago, and then my thoughts turned homewards. I descended to the Depot and there deposited a record of our movements since our last visit and also the proposed programme. All these papers are in a tin can under the stern of the boat at the Depot. This Depot of supplies was landed in 1875 from the “Alert” and contains everything needed to submit 50 men for about 3 months. I returned on board at 2:30. The “Yantic” steamed away towards Hakluyt Island. During the forenoon passed between Hakluyt and Northumberland Ilds. Round the Northern point of the letter, then between Northumberland and Herbert Ilds. Carefully examining both shores. At noon
shaped a course for Cape Parry and at 3 I landed and deposited a record on the Cape, building a cairn around a flagstaff erected in the middle. Then started to continue our search to the South. Weather at times cloudy and again clear. Fresh breeze from SW (true), but very favorable weather for our work. Picked a few flowers from among the wilderness of rocks on Cape Parry, one of the wildest and most desolate spots I ever visited. Ran down to the South within a short mile of the coast until abreast of the Rockly Islets marked on the charts “3 Sister Bees”, at which point Cape Athol, Saunders and Wolstenholme Islds. were in sight to the South. At this time, 6 P.M., the ice pack commenced to drive in towards the land before a stiff and gradually increasing NW wind. The pack extended as far as could be seen from the “crow’s nest” from Cape Athol around the Cary Islands and to the North as far as the eye could reach. Although lanes of clear water could be traced, the Captain decided not to venture into pack, but stood to the North., again and at 6 A.M., August 6th, anchored in an indentation in the coast of Northumberland Island, sheltered from the ESE round by North to WNW (true). Weather cloudy, fog on the mountain tops, and soon after anchoring, a light drizzle commenced to fall and this changed to steady rain, sometimes snow. After the crew had breakfasted, sent 3 boats to sound in the bight, and finding that there was safe anchorage further in, in 6 faths water, got under way and moved in to that depth, soft sticky bottom. Before shifting our berth, a small berg caromed on our port bow and scraped along the port side, but did not break anything. We are anchored at the base of high hills and they dry beds of several mountain torrents show that the wash from the hills has made the plateau on which we are anchored, as the water deepens suddenly a very short distance outside. The weather continued thick with rain and snow until 5 P.M. when it partially cleared. A party of Officers landed in the evening and found on the shore near the ship traces of the “Proteus” party, several empty tins, the labels on which are the same as Lt. Garlington’s provisions; also the remains of a wood fire and the footprints of men wearing shoes with heels. Other traces show that the party and been there within a week.
Tuesday, August 7th. A beautiful clear summer day.
Drilled the divisions for a short time this morning. The first since our arrival in St. Johns. Loosed all sails to dry and commenced to remove the scars caused by our deck load of coal. A party of Officers on shore today found the site of a camp evidently occupied by Captain Pike and his crew about a mile away from the one supposed to be Garlington’s. A pair of pants with a knife in the pocket, a sauce pan, several pounds of biscuit, etc., were found. The two parties are evidently moving in sight of each other, but each acting independently. In the evening after dinner in company without ice pilots, I landed and ascended one of the highest points of the Island, probably 12 or 13 hundred feet in height. The road is rough and steep in places, but the view from the summit is magnificent. To the North I could see the west shore extending from Cape Isabella to Cape Sabine, then the opening of Smiths sound and the eastern land from Littleton Island south to Herbert Island. The sea smooth and dotted by innumerable bergs on which the sun shining caused to glisten. Here and there over the land a belt of fog like a gauze veil was drawn. Turning to the south, the coast as far as Cape Parry plainly in sight, and in the offing about 30 miles off lay the Cary Islands. The sea dotted with icebergs, but no pack or field ice visible. We stayed on the summit half an hour and then returned. The ship at anchor in the bay at our feed looking like a small yacht. We saw a beautiful specimen of the Arctic hare, but we failed to shoot him. He was snow white, over 2 feet high when sitting up on his haunches, which he did whenever he stopped. A doveky and gull were sot on the way off to the ship. A light SW breeze sprang up about 8 P.M. which gradually freshened and blew in heavy squalls. The yards were braced to the wind, and the cable veered to 45 faths. This a very secure anchorage in all Southerly winds.
Wednesday, August 8th. The wind continues fresh from SW with heavy squalls. About 8 A.M. rain, sleet and snow commenced falling and continued with little interruption until 8 P.M. The snow and sleet melting as it fell. After that hour the wind moderated and the rain fell only at intervals. The surrounding hills are entirely covered with snow.
Thursday, August 9th. The rain ceased to fall during the night and the wind moderated. Sent a boat ashore for fresh
water in the morning watch. At 9 the 2nd Cutter was sent on shore, the crew to build a cairn in which a record of our visit was placed. I landed about the same time and in company with the pilot climbed to the summit of the peak visited on Tuesday evening. I carried a pocket barometer and found the height to be 1400 feet. There was considerable snow on the ground which was bare on Tuesday. In some places it was up to my knees in gullies where it had drifted. The view was not quite so extended as on my first visit, the sky being cloudy and mist hanging over the Western land. The sea was clear of pack ice except between this Island and Cape Parry. Whale Sound was full of it, and it was necessary to go round the North end of Northumberland Island to clear it. I got on board again at 12:30. Saw one Arctic hare which we did not get. At 2:30 left the anchorage and steamed round to the North of the Island and then south between it and Hakluyt Island, and then South skirting the pack which is quite loose and composed of old and rotten ice. Sea very smooth and very light southerly winds. About 10 P.M. snow commenced falling and the weather became thick. The engines were slowed and the ship headed to the Westward and finally passed closed to the SE Cary Island and at 12:30 A.M., August 10th, when near the Depot fired two blank cartridges to attract attention, but elicited no response. Evidently, our “quest” is not there. Headed the ship to the SE and skirted along the pack. Lost it about 8 A.M. and soon after the weather became foggy. About 3 P.M. the fog became very dense and the speed was reduced to 4 knots. Passed numerous bergs which could be seen ¾ to 1 mile off by their white blink through the fog. The wind has hauled to the SE true and thick fog with rain continued from 6 P.M. to mid.
Saturday, August 11. A continuation of the same sort of weather with a stiff SE (true) wind. At 1:30 P.M. fog lifted and rain ceased, but the sky remained cloudy and the wind fresh. Passed a few large bergs and many small pieces of ice, but no pack.
Sunday, August 12th. Commenced with a strong breeze and heavy squalls, sometimes a moderate gale from SSE (true) which moderated about 4 A.M. This wind kicked up a rough sea and the ships motions were very uneasy and uncomfortable.
At 4 A.M. made Cape Shackelton, stood down the coast, and about 2 P.M. anchored in the “Danish Harbor” at Upernavik. About noon the sky cleared, the sun shone out warm and bright, the change being sudden and remarkable. The changes of weather in these waters are frequent and sudden. No news from the party we seek. The Str. “Sofia” arrived here August 1st and had been in the ice off Cape York for several days. Did not get within 30 miles of the Cape. Her Captain said that he entered the pack in thick weather and would not have done so had he known its extent. By the “Sofia” came also a report that two Esquimaux from Greely’s party visited Cape York last winter having made the journey by sledges. They report Greely all right, but Dr. Pacey killed. This story has a singular flavor about it and should not be received on its own merits. It is singular that Greely should send out such a party and that they, having been sent, should come without any written record, message report. We are snugly moored head and stern, and now shall await developments.
Monday, August 13th. Fair weather. Light southerly winds. Sent a launch belonging to the Station with 15 days rations for 50 men to Tessuisak. It is probable that Garlington would make for that settlement and may be short of provisions. Our Photographer was on shore today and succeeded in getting some very good pictures of the place and inhabitants. We are two months from New York today.
Tuesday, August 14th. Generally fair weather. Light Northerly breezes at times foggy. Allowed 23 men to go on shore. They all enjoyed themselves and had a dance with the natives. I made the detour of the island seeking a stream of water to supply the ship, and after all my travel, I found close to the ship a pool of water, that by removing a few spadefuls of earth will supply all the water we need. Spent the evening at the Governor’s, where we made merry over some very choice old run and witnessed a danse[sic] of the natives at the Cooper Shop. They danced very gracefully and with a great deal of zest and abandon. Returned on board about ten P.M. A party of officers went shooting today. They killed about 50 birds at a loonerie about 4 miles from the ship. Hauled all firs except one for heating the ship.
Wednesday, August 15th. Another very pleasant day. Landed one Div. for Target practice and allowed a large
party of men to go on shore I the afternoon. I managed by a little judicious digging to get all the fresh water I shall need for the ship. I went on shore with the Dr. and spent the evening at the Governor’s.
Thursday, August 16th. Fair weather, wind about NNW (true) and increasing in force up to 7 P.M. when it moderated. Considerable swell sets into this cove and the sea breaks on the rocks, but as long as out anchor holds, it is an excellent harbor. The boat which sailed on Monday taking provisions to Tessuisak for the “Proteus” party returned this afternoon. No news of our quest. The winds have been westerly up to within 48 hours, and the ice is packed in on the coast. The present Northerly winds will send it off and it is hoped will give our shipwrecked friends a chance to reach this ship. I was on shore in the afternoon and called at the Minister’s house in company with our Dr. We were kindly received and treated to coffee and cake and a glass of wine. The wife and her sister are Danish and very agreeable, and would be entertaining if they could speak English. The Governor, his wife and family were on board this morning while we were a quarters and appeared to be much interested in all that they saw.
Friday, August 17th. Another fair warm day. Clear and pleasant, light northerly winds. Filled the tanks with water from shore. The Minister, his wife and her sister came in board this morning, were shown over the ship, were present at quarters and seemed to be much interested in what they saw. This being the 14th anniversary of the wedding of Chief Eng. Smith, he invited the Captain to dine in the Ward Room and cut a cake which his wife and prepared for the occasion. I spent the evening at the Governor’s in company with the Dr. & Capt. A Kayak was sent to Tessuisak with orders to the Governor of that settlement not to leave his post until the “Proteus” party has been heard from, and another Kayak with orders to send his whale boat to Cape Shackelton to look out for the “Proteus” boats.
Saturday, August 18th. A beautiful, bright, sunshine day. Light breeze from North. A large piece broke from a grounded iceberg in the mouth of the harbor and has been floating unpleasantly near the ship. No news from our quest. About 10 P.M. a small berg drifted into the harbor and as it seemed likely to foul the ship, I got a hawser to it
and let it to a Capstan on shore which is used for hauling out the large boats in winter. I do not think I moved the berg, as it grounded close to the ship.
Sunday, August 19th. The morning bright and clear with a moderate SSW (true) wind. Captain inspected the ship for the first time in nearly a month. I went on shore and attended the service in the little chapel of the settlement. There were about 30 people present. The men and women seated on opposite sides of the church, which would hold 75 by close packing. The Pastor wore a black serge gown and a stiff ruffled collar. The liturgy is all printed in the Equimaux language, which I could not understand. The music was all very familiar. A native who is also the schoolmaster presided at the organ. The women sang better than I expected; the men for the most part were silent. I have my doubts as to how much of the doctrine these people really understand. The music was all very familiar. A native who is also the schoolmaster presided at the organ. The women sang better than I expected; the men for the most part were silent. I have my doubts as to how much of the doctrine these people really understand. The unclean odor which always is perceptible in the presence of these seal skin clad people became very oppressive and I left before the close of the service. I stopped into the Governor’s on my way back to the ship and found there Mr. Miller, the Gov. of Proven who had come over in his whaleboat. He left Proven at 11 P.M. and reached here at 8 A.M. Returning to the ship, I found all the boats down trying to tow a small berg out of the harbor, in which they succeeded. The one which troubled us last night is still aground near us. The weather, being squally and threatening, ran out an anchor to the rocks astern and bent to it our heaviest hawser which was hauled taut and secured to the main mast. Every appearance of a blow outside, but in this cove the ship is well sheltered from all Southerly winds. Dined in the cabin. Reindeer steaks and a dovekie pie were among the courses, a very good dinner. The weather continued to grow worse and at 11 P.M. it was blowing a SW gale outside and a strong breeze setting into this harbor a heavy swell, which about high water caused the berg near the ship to part the line holding it and to roll over, carrying its momentum until it had floated 50 fee across the bow. All hands were called, the boats lowered and until 2:30 A.M. August 20th we towed away at that berg and finally it grounded on the opposite side of the harbor. It was dismal work, cold, windy and rainy, but it had to be done. The Gov. and Mr. Miller were on board this A.M. and stayed to breakfast. I went ashore in the afternoon and secured a
number spades and picks for mining coal, as the Captain has decided to leave here in a few days. I also called at the Pastor’s and was entertained in his usual hospitable way with coffee, cakes and wine. Clear, fine weather in the evening. The passages between the islands to the North are packed with bergs.
Tuesday, August 21st. Another beautiful day. Clear, warm and pleasant. Light NW (true) wind. The Pastor, Gov., and Mr. Miller were all on board today. From the pastor I received a present of a couple of bottles of old santa cruz rum. Why I cannot imagine! I called on him in the P.M. and thanked him, and was entertained with the usual coffee, cake and wine. He is better educated man than I had supposed. He showed me his Greek and Hebrew books today. The Kayak returned today from Tessiusak, with no news from the boats, but with the news that a whale boat had been boats. I spent the evening at the Governor’s and received from him a present of eiderdown and a pair sealskin boots.
Wednesday, August 22nd. Fine weather, winds moderate to fresh from NNW (true) but foggy outside. The fog lifted about 7 P.M. and at 9:00 the “Yantic” steamed out of the harbor. As we passed the little settlement, a salute of 7 guns was fired from our 12 pdr Howitzer. The Danish Ensign hoisted at the fore. The Gov. dipped his colors and blazed away with his 3 little pop guns. We have been most hospitably treated and leave the place with many pleasant recollections of our visit. AT 10:30 we were all clear of the outlying islands and the wind being fair, set all sails and stood to the south, bound for the coal mine in the Wygatt Strait. Had a pleasant run down and at 8 P.M., August 23rd, anchored off the coal cliffs of Rittenbenk Kulbreth. Went on shore with the Captain and showed him the vein which we will have to work. There are numerous icebergs drifting about and many pieces of small ice. There is no appearance of any one having been here since our departure on 26th July.
Friday, August 24th. Fine weather. Moderate Southerly wind. At work all day digging away the face of the cliff to lay bare the vein of coal. Boats sent off to tow ice away from the ship several times during the day. Shifted away from the ship several times during the day. Shifted berth closer in shore out of the way of the bergs.
Saturday, August 25th. Fine weather. Moderate SW wind. Foggy in afternoon and freshening breeze in evening. All hands employed mining coal. Brought off about 21 tons, using our 1st and 2nd Cutters as lighters.
Sunday, August 26th. A most perfect day. Clear, warm and pleasant. As it is necessary to get the coal on as quickly as possible, we worked all day and got off 8 boat loads, about 21 tons. Many small bergs floating in the strait caused us to get the ship under way twice and to lay drifting during the night.
Monday, August 27th. Another lovely day. I have never seen finer weather. Got off 4 boat loads of coal, and as the further mining would have involved great labor in digging away the overlying cliff, it was decided to stop mining. We have taken on board 50 tons (estimated) and have probably handled 250 tons of soil, rock and gravel. At 2:15 got under way and steamed down the Waigatt Strait bound for Disco. Arrived in the harbor of Godhaven at 2:00 A.M. Tuesday, August 28th and moored in our old berth. There is now about 4 hours of darkness and the period increases rapidly. The Governor and Inspector are both away at Egidisminde. No news has been received here about the crew of the “Proteus”. The wives of the Governor and Inspector came on board this afternoon in company with a young Dane whom I take to be a sort of Secretary to the Inspector. Mesdames Anderson and Peterson are sisters and both attractive and agreeable women. They were shown all over the ship, but as they spoke no English, and we had to employ one of the crew as interpreter, it was rather uphill work entertaining them. Weather today clear and pleasant. Light SE (Mag) breeze in the A.M. and light airs from W to N-(Mag) in the P.M.
Wednesday, August 29th. Variable weather, clear, cloudy and showery. Light variable airs mostly from the Southard. At 8 P.M. showery fog settling on the mountains and every appearance of rainy weather. The story about the death of Dr. Pavey after being thoroughly sifted is very doubtful. “Hans” who went up on the “Sofia” as interpreter says that he was told at Cape York that during the winter two “Etah” Esquimaux visited Cape York and said that the dog drivers of the Greely Expedition had been down on a visit and said that the Dr. or Head man was dead. Killed.
These natives speak of all leaders as Dr., since Dr. Kane was up there. The “Sofia” has been here and taken on board Professor Nordenskiold and gone round to the East Coast to try and land. The Professor and penetrated 40 or 50 miles inot the interior, but had not found the land clear of ice as he had hoped. He was stopped by a perpendicular glacier and compelled to return.
Thursday, August 30th. Rainy weather during the A.M. hours. Clear and cool in the P.M. Winds moderate from SE (true). The Inspector arrived at 7 P.M. and was saluted with 3 guns from the little battery on shore.
Friday, August 31st. I was called about 5 A.M., the Orderly saying that the Captain wished to see me. On entering the cabin I was shown a letter from Lieut. Colwell which had just been received. It was written off Noursoak in the Wygatt trait and was sent on by Kayak. Colwell had left the rest of the boats near Cape York on the inst. and after an exceedingly stormy and perilous voyage had reached Upernavik in his whale boat about 6 hours after our departure. He had been most hospitably entertained and had come down from Upernavik in the little schooner “Margaret” which the genial Governor had prevailed on him to take. Soon after reading this letter, I heard an unusual noise on deck and on inquiry learned that a man in U.S. Army uniform was making signals to the ship from the top of the rocks astern. He proved to be one of Colwell’s boat’s crew. The Boat had grounded a short distance outside and he had climbed over the rocks to signal for assistance. I went out in the 1st Cutter, found the “Margaret” a short distance outside and with the assistance of the other boats which were sent, I towed her in. All Colwell’s crew are well. Took in seven tons coal, kindly furnished by the Inspector, and left Disco at 6:30 P.M. bound for Upernavik with the “Margaret” in tow and the Esquimaux letter carriers and their Kayaks on board, they to be dropped off Hare Island. Light southerly airs and calm during the night.
Saturday, September 1st, at 8:30, having passed round the North end of Hare Island and towards the village of Norsoak, stopped the engines and the two Esquimaux started
in their Kayaks for the shore. They were much pleased with the ship and all in her and shook hands all round and said goodbye in English. Winds variable during the day, had sail set on both tacks several times during the day. About 4 P.M. a fresh NE (Mag) breeze sprang up which reduced our speed to about 4 knots. AT 8 P.M. we were abreast of Srarten Huk (the black cape). The Upernavik boat tows very nicely astern. Fine weather all night, wind moderating. Reached the anchorage off Upernavik 7 A.M., Sunday, September 2nd. As we approached, we could see a large number of men rushing out of a house. Soon after we were enabled to distinguish the U.S. Army uniform and then we knew that the whole party were there. They arrived at Upernavik about 8 hours after Colwell sailed. They had met the Whale Boat (sent to meet them from Tessuisak) off Cape Shackelton and had been piloted to Tessuisak where they found the stores awaiting them, and from there to this place it was plain sailing. Received from the Gov. 6 ½ tons of coal. Filled up with fresh water. Received all the shipwrecked party on board and sailed at 3:30 bound for St. Johns direct. We hoisted our homeward bound pennant and largest Ensign and saluted with 7 guns as we steamed out of the harbor. The Gov. returned all the guns. Fine weather, light airs from the North. We have 12 in the WR. Four sleeping in cots. 2 of the party are in the cabin, 3 in the steerage and the balance on the berth deck.
Monday, September 3rd. Fine weather, fresh Northerly wind. Set all sail at 4:30 A.M., stopped engines and uncoupled the screw. At 8 P.M. we were off Disco Fiord. Ship running from 6 to 7 ½ knots. All our shipwrecked passengers are in good health and spirits and all are looking forward with pleasure to our return to civilization. Dr. Harrison is suffering very much with a severe inflammation in his feet which compels him to use crutches, but is otherwise very well. The crew of the “Proteus” are a rough looking party. They are probably as worthless a set of men as could be found in St. Johns. When the “Proteus” sank, they all acted like pirates, plundering for themselves and refusing assistance in the saving of stores. They were all mutinous and out of the control of their own officers who are not much better than themselves. The whole business from its inception has been a piece of mismanagement and a series of blunders. It is the height of folly to send a hired foreign
ship on an expedition of this kind, and it is also a great mistake to send army officers and soldiers to do work which may call for seamanship of the highest order. It was piece of folly to send Greely up to Lady Franklin Bay and it will cost a considerable sum of money and perhaps some lives to rescue him and his party if alive or to ascertain their fate. The retreating party encamped one day on Brown’s Island in Mellville Bay, opened a cairn and found a record deposited there by James Ross in 1848 while on his Northward in the “Enterprise” and “Investigator” searching for N.W. passage. It is fair to suppose that the island has not been visited since then. Ships having steam power would not go so far to the East in crossing the Bay. This cairn was demolished by one of the “Proteus” crew before Lieut. Garlington could reach it and the record was only given up after their arrival on board the “Yantic”. They are quiet enough here, but are a hard lot if one can judge by appearances.
Friday, September 7th. We have had light to fresh northerly winds since our departure, excepting on Wednesday, 5th, when we had it from the SW with heavy rain. Yesterday we crossed the Arctic Circle and today are in Lat. 63.23 N – Lon. 55.42 W. Our Chief Gunner’s Mate Henry Wilson died suddenly today of an apoplectic stroke. He was 55 ½ years old and a most excellent petty officer. His term of enlistment would have expired on the 14th inst. He was a native of Block Island, the only man from that island that I have ever met.
Saturday, September 8. Our fair wind still continues. It hauled into the NW this A.M. and gradually freshened until sail was reduced to double reefed topsails under which she made 8 ½ knots with the wind abeam. She rolled heavily and was very uncomfortable. At 9:45 A.M. buried out late Gun Mate with the usual ceremonies. Lat. At noon 60.58 N – Lon. 54.48 W. Winds continued favorable from the N.W. blowing strong with long following sea.
Reached St. Johns about 10 A.M. Thursday, 13th September, exactly three months since leaving New York.