Excellent account in every respect of a disastrous expedition.
p. 36: For the balance of the voyage from Havre to San Francisco he [De Long] and [John] Danenhower discussed plans for the expedition. The ship’s library [then called the Pandora] was augmented by Bennett’s valuable collection of books on the Arctic, and De Long had ‘obtained all the charts of the world north of the 65 parallel.’ Some of those charts were those of August Petermann, one of the villains of the book; Petermann misled De Long into his theories of warm Japanese currents, open polar seas, Wrangel Land as a continent, etc. Danenhower regarded the disproving of those theories as the main accomplishment of the expedition (see p 328).
p. 85-6: De Long talked publishers into in-kind contributions of books of anthropology, exploration, medicine, and romantic novels. There is little in this book showing who read the books or under what circumstances.
p. 114: Wintering in the pack may be a thrilling experience to read about alongside a warm fire in a comfortable home, but the actual thing is sufficient to make any man prematurely old…. [De Long, Journal, 6-24 November 1879]
p. 145, during summer on the icebound ship: Yet in all other respects a steady and emphatically reassuring routine was upheld, even though every book had been read, all stories told, and game of cards, chess and checkers long since abandoned, in the officers’ quarters at any rate.
p. 228-9, in Lena Delta: Thick snow fell upon the two tents that evening as De Long prepared to read divine service. He found his bible too sodden and read instead from a prayer book. Calculating the day to be the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, he afterwards noted that the ordained text was ‘peculiarly apt to our situation.’ It was Matthew VI, 34. ‘Take therefore no thought for the morrow…sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.’
p. 245, as death approached some of the lost men: De Long read prayers for the sick, ‘though I fear my broken utterances made little of the service audible.’ Erikson died that day, leaving his mates a bible and hymn book.
p. 257: Sunday, Oct. 30. 140 day. Boyd & Görtz died during the night—Mr Collins dying. ….Carl Görtz and Nelsk Iversen lay dead in the snow a couple of yards away. Boyd had taken Iversen’s psalm book with the inked inscription “Presented by the California Evangelical Society for Foreigners,” and he crawled nearest the fire, so close his scraps of clothing burned through to the skin as he breathed his last, but Iversen’s psalm book was safe, tucked under his body.
p. 308, when bodies were shipped across Siberia: the cortege as it were covered the twenty-five-hundred-mile journey to Irkutsk in nineteen days and gathered more wreaths and honors, while printed copies of an epic poem recounting the story of the Jeannette were distributed among the crowds on the streets by members of the East Siberia Geographic Society.
p. 319, during Congressional hearings on the scandals of the expedition, the attorney criticized Danenhower for not bringing a Bowditch Navigator from the stricken ship, and for leaving instruments that could have made Bowditch usable.
One thing seems evident, that De Long was determined not to fail as Franklin did in losing the ship’s expeditionary records, and as a result a great deal more is known about this disaster than Franklin’s.