Trial by Ice: The True Story of Murder and Survival on the 1871 Polaris Expedition.

A rather pedestrian and purple account of the Polaris expedition of 1871, the death of Charles F. Hall, the separation of the ship from several of the crew, the stranded sailors’ remarkable survival, and the whitewash of the inquiry into the fate of Hall and the expedition.

p. 27: In the captain’s cabin, Hall packed books on Arctic exploration, including a copy of Luke Fox’s Arctic Voyage of 1635.

p. 245: According to Buddington, the books about the Arctic that Charles Francis Hall had loved so well were packed in his sea chest along with two of the Polaris’s logbooks the following day and dragged a quarter mile from the camp. There—along with two boxed chronometers, the pendulum, and the transit—they were buried in a stone cashe. As an afterthought Buddington included a letter detailing the directions and the plans of the two lifeboats in case a whaling vessel might stumble upon the marker.

p. 279-80, on returning to the Arctic to rescue the remaining Polaris party, Tyson, Ebierling, a covert NY Herald reporter, and Commander Greer, the search party found the ruined remains of the Buddington camp: Shaking his head, Greer walked among the mess, collecting torn books and manuscripts and broken instruments. Not only was this deliberate destruction of government property, but maintaining records of the expedition and its scientific findings was one of the highest priorities of the mission, next only to reaching the North Pole. Examining the mutilated papers aboard the Tigress, Tyson and Greer found many pages missing from the logs. The defacing of the logs and journals was carefully done, something entirely different from the random scattering of the supplies. All references to the death of Captain Hall were torn out. ‘I had an opportunity last evening,’ Tyson wrote in another journal he had started on boarding the Tigress, ‘of looking over the mutilated diaries and journals left in the deserted hut off Littleton Island. Not one but has the leaves cut out relating to Captain Hall’s death.’ In fact, no mention of the separation of Tyson’s group on the night of October 15 existed either.

p. 292-95 gives a list of the first books about the disastrous expedition:

Epes Sargent’s The Wonders of the Arctic World. Philadelphia 1873, including William H. Cunnington’s evasive account of the expedition which Parry calls the beginning of the coverup.