Voyage to the Southern Ocean: The Letters of Lieutenant William Reynolds from the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842.

Letters of a midshipman serving with Wilkes, and one who became increasingly discontented with Wilkes’ leadership.

p. 27, Letter 3, Nov. 1838: In reading the histories of former Expeditions, English, French, and Russian, I find that those Commanders were always selected who possessed the requisite scientific attainments, whose varied and extensive knowledge and peculiar talent would enable them to direct and carry on all the operations, and to judge on their merits. Now, none of the first named officers to the command of this Expedition were in the slightest degree acquainted with any higher branches than plain and practical Astronomy and Navigation, and the nautical parts of their profession. [Says that Wilkes in England had met Parry, Ross, Franklin, Back and other naval officers and would profit from the knowledge he attained from them.]

p. 94, Letter 10 Sept 12, 1839: re Bligh and the mutiny: I have not time to say more, but refer you to “Beechey’s Voyage” in the English Sloop of War Blossom; it has been published in the United States and the account of his visit to Pitcairn’s Island will repay you for the slight trouble of procuring the work. The “Mutiny of the Bounty” forms the subject of a number of Harpers Family Library and will furnish you with interesting reading….

p. 130, Letter 14 March 1840: We had no night—‘twas broad daylight through the whole twenty four hours. We used no candle. The Sun set in the East about 10 ½ P.M. and rose again, close by where he disappeared, before 2 A.M. We shot birds at all hours and the men read Pickwick in the middle watch; the Doctor brought his wife’s bible on deck every night at 12 o’clock and read a chapter.