Three Years of Arctic Service, An Account of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition of 1881-84 and the Attainment of the Farthest North.

These volumes are Greely’s personal, not official, somewhat sanitized version of his expedition and its aftermath. Much of the work is taken from Greely’s journals, and those passages are given within quotation marks, as in the original publication.

Volume I:

p. xiiii: BORING is the operation of forcing a ship through crowded ice by steam or sail. [In a glossary of technical terms, but the pun is irresistible.]

p. 31, a general description of Greenland ca 1880s: The naturally amiable qualities of the Eskimo have been fostered by the Christianizing influences of the Danish pastors and the Moravian missionaries. Religious and instructive books have been printed in Eskimo text, and a large portion of the natives read, although but few of them can write.

p. 64: On the western coast of the [Littleton] island I also found a wet wad of paper, which was carefully dried, and examined a few days later. It seemed to show conclusively that the Nares cairn had been opened, probably by the Eskimo, as the paper proved to be part of the London Standard, dated May 17. 1875, in which was contained intact an account of a lecture of Captain Nares on the Arctic expedition, delivered at Winchester Guildhall, April 30, 1875.

p. 71: As the Proteus passed Washington Irving Island [Aug 1881], we picked up our photographer, as well as Dr. Pavy and Lieutenant Lockwood, who had been searching the cairn on the island. The latter officer brought back Captain Nares’ record of August, 1875, and September 1876, which gave a brief account of his visit and action. Copies of these papers were left, and a new record added, which gave briefly our experiences to date….

p. 88, Sunday routine at Fort Conger: …I announced that games of all kinds should be abstained from on that day. On each Sunday morning there would be read by me [Greely] a selection from the Psalms, and it was expected that every member of the expedition should be present, unless he had conscientious scruples against listening to the reading of the Bible…. The selection of the Psalms for the 28 day of the month [Aug. 1881] was then read. Although, as a rule, during our stay at Conger, I refrained from any comments on what was thus read, I felt obliged that morning to especially invite the attention of the party to that verse which recites how delightful a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. A few words were added upon the depressing effect which an isolated and monotonous life produced upon men experiencing the trials and hardships of a long Arctic winter. I further expressed the hope, that every one would endeavor to conciliate and reconcile those who drifted into any unpleasant controversy instead of exciting them to further feeling.

p. 117: Our usual psalms on the 11 [Sept] were supplemented by prayer for those who travel, a practice regularly followed whenever sledge parties were in the field.

p. 119: Lamps were first lighted for general use on September 16….

p. 145-46: Most of our winter amusements were necessarily of a mental character, owing to lack of space for much physical exercise. The library was an excellent one, comprising about seventy-five volumes of Arctic works, many encyclopædias, scientific works, etc., for the studious. There were probably a thousand novels, magazines, and books of a light character.

Cards, chess-boards, backgammon, parchesi, and other games were much in use, but no gambling, save for tobacco, was allowed. One variety entertainment was given, and a semi-monthly newspaper lived for two months only. Hunting was assiduously followed as long as light lasted, and skating was practiced until the roughness of the ice rendered it difficult.

One of the party had a violin and an orguinette, with about fifty yards of music, afforded much amusement, being particularly fascinating to our Eskimo, who never wearied grinding out one tune after another.

When these amusements seemed stale, the monotony was broken by a series of lectures commenced and generally maintained by me. I lectured some six times the first winter, on Sound, Storms, Magnetism, Poles (geographical and others), Arctic Expeditions, and War Reminiscences, which were supplemented by readings. Lieutenant Lockwood delivered two lectures on Arctic Sledging, and Dr. Pavy one on Africa. The second winter I was assisted in this work by Dr. Pavy, who lectured on Napoleon, and by Sergeant Israel, who gave a series of excellent and instructive lectures on Astronomy.

p. 162: The monotony of Arctic life commenced about that time [mid-Nov]. Different methods to alleviate its discomforts and depressions were broached, none of which were particularly successful, as, indeed, none can be. A tri-weekly school was commenced by me during the month, which was kept up through the entire winter with marked benefit to the men attending…. Arithmetic, grammar, geography, and meteorology were taught. For a time Dr. Pavy instructed two men in French. The educational qualifications of the men were very good, and there was but one of the party on its original formation who was unable to write, and he acquired that attainment during our stay at Conger.

p. 163: Lieutenant Lockwood, with the assistance of Sergeant Rice and Private Henry, edited a semi-monthly newspaper, the Arctic Moon…. It lived, however, only for two months, dying for lack of interest, although it served its temporary purpose of amusement and diversion.

p. 174: At 10 a.m. the Psalms for Christmas were read, to which I added as appropriate the second selection, consisting of the 139 and 140 Psalms. The reading was supplemented by the singing of a hymn and the doxology, led off by Lieutenant Kislingbury. I remember no service in all our Arctic experiences which so affected and impressed the men, unless it was that at our first burial in the winter at Sabine.

p. 176: A female impersonation followed, by Schneider, which afforded amusement for the party, but particularly so to the Eskimo. Schneider had provided himself at the Greenland ports with the entire costume of the Eskimo belle, and being a small man, was able to squeeze himself into the garments….

p. 180-81, description of his quarters ashore at Fort Conger, including an illustration of books and bunk on the opposite page: My own domain of eight by eight was in general thrown into the main room, but heavy curtains were so arranged that at night, or whenever I desired privacy, they could be drawn so as to cut off my corner from view. Such little trappings as I had taken with me were arranged to the best advantage. On shelves near me were placed my personal books and the excellent Arctic library we were favored with. To save space my bunk was built on the top of an ammunition-chest, in which the greater part of my clothing was packed. A small desk, a rocking-chair, and some private carpeting added much to my comfort as I daily applied myself to mental work. The ink froze nightly at my head, and the water spilled on carpet or floor at all times turned to ice, but as a compensation the thermometer by day—if day there be without the sun—rose to 90 ° (38° C.) around my head. Despite these and other drawbacks, it was a comfortable nook to me in that time, and it will always abide in my mind with pleasure, as a place where I did good work myself and planned better for others.

p. 223-24, on sledge journey when matches wouldn’t light [needed to produce drinking water]: “Jewell finally produced a love-letter, which was very carefully worn in some inside garment, and holding a piece to the next match it caught the flame slowly and immediately communicated it to the alcohol-lamp, one wick of which was allowed to burn until we quit the snowhouse.” [Quoted from Brainard’s field-journal.]

p. 236: “St. Patrick was honored this evening by a few songs from ‘The Wild Irishman.’” Singing songs when sheltered only by a light tent from the drifting gale and a temperature lower than —40 ° (—40° C.) was a fair sample of the indomitable spirit and unvarying cheerfulness of the men of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition.

p. 355: …Dr. Pavy visited instead Sergeant Lynn’s party at Polaris Boat Camp, taking them some delicacies from the station. He returned on the 16, coming in accordance with his orders by way of Thanks God Harbor, from which he brought three cans of pemmican, a grindstone, and several books.

Volume II: Quotations are taken from Greely’s journal of the Camp Clay period before the June 1884 rescue.

p. 6: “Oct. 16.—Psalms were read as usual at ten o’clock. Bender is the first man who has objected to the service, and was excused to-day, at his own request, on religious grounds. It is proper and essential that there should be an observance of the day, but I have rarely commented on what was read and have endeavored to avoid anything like sectarianism in my selections, having no wish to constrain the religious opinion of any man.”

p. 12: “Jan. 7th.—Read Psalms at 9 a.m.”

“Jan. 11th.… I read a number of extracts, mainly poetical, to the men this evening. Yesterday our last lamp-chimney broke, and we resort now to broken stubs, bottles, etc.”

p. 180-81, in a reading passage quoted from Greely’s Camp Clay diary: “October 26.—Our day of sunlight for a hundred and ten long days, and how to pass this coming Arctic night is a question I can’t answer. Last evening we had a reading by Rice from the scraps of paper, which I had carefully unwrapped from each lemon and dried out in my sleeping-bag. We have learned, some days since, that Garfield is dead, and that the Cabinet, except [Secretary of War Robert T] Lincoln, has been entirely changed; we consider Lincoln’s retention hopeful for us. The wretched Eskimo lamp, with its faint glimmer of light, is held close to the reader. Some already begrudge the oil for this purpose, but I look on it as more than well spent in giving food for our minds, which, turned inward, these coming months would inevitably drive us all insane.”

p. 198, the winter quarters at Camp Clay, Cape Sabine, must have had some reading material since Greely reports on November 4 “ Reading in the evening as usual, including the Psalms for to-day.” [Elsewhere Greely claims the men had no Bible, but that he had a prayer-book. See p. 325]

p. 201-02, [Nov. 17.]: “I have been casting about for some means to amuse and divert the party during the weary time now upon us…. After much thought and some consultation, I have decided to give, daily, a lecture, of from one to two hours in length, upon the physical geography and the resources of the United States in general; followed later by similar talks on each State and Territory in particular….”

“November 18 [Camp Clay, 1883]. —I talked for an hour or more to-day regarding the peculiarities of climate and the various products, etc., of the United States. In the evening I read the Psalms for the day. Rum was issued, except to those who drew in advance on their return from their last trip to Long Point….”

“November 19…. Talked for an hour or two on the grain and fruit products of the United States. Last evening there was reading from ‘Pickwick’ [Dickens] by Jewell; ‘Two on a Tower,’ [Thomas Hardy] by Rice; ‘A History of Our Own Times,’ [Justin McCarthy, 1879?] first by Lieutenant Lockwood, and later by Henry.” * [*Footnote, p. 202: *These books, with the exception of Two on a Tower, which was found in the wreck cache, were taken from Conger.]

p. 203: “November 21st.— … I gave an hour on the mineral productions of the United States. It was interesting to note the lack of interest shown by the party regarding the production of gold and silver. Several have spoken on the subject of money, and there are but few men who would not willingly sacrifice their entire pecuniary fortunes, if by so doing they could guarantee the successful return of the expedition to the United States.”

p. 204: “November 22d.—I gave another hour to the United States in general, treating particularly of its geographical subdivisions, as I intend commencing on the States in detail tomorrow.”

“November 23d.—Talked for nearly two hours to-day on the State of Maine, touching on its climate….” [Other talks over the next weeks including Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Germany, Baden-Baden, etc.]

“November 24th. —Talked for a couple of hours on New Hampshire; my remarks being supplemented by Jewell by an account of life on Mount Washington, which he contrasted very favorably with our present deplorable condition. Instead of the customary reading from the Bible, Dickens, and the Army Regulations, this evening was given up to reminiscences pertaining to the past lives and domestic surroundings of the men.”

p. 207-08: “December 5th: …Our reading in the evening, which is apart from my lectures upon the various states, generally consists of a chapter or two from the Bible, by Gardiner; the Army Regulations, by myself; and a chapter of ‘Pickwick,’ by Jewell.”

p. 216: “December 27th—I talked an hour this morning on Kentucky, my remarks being supplemented by Jewell, who gave an interesting account of the manner in which horse-breeding is conducted in that State; Jewell, having made a specialty of the pedigree of horses, whiled away an hour or two for us very pleasantly. The temperature is very low, down to —40 ° (—40° C.).”

p. 217, discussion on December 28 on using blubber as cooking fuel: “Objections are made to using blubber for light even, except during cooking, but I believe mental occupation, such as reading, is worth much more than the blubber burned, even if the light does not do us physical good. The information we have picked up from the few books abandoned by Lieutenant Garlington and the discussions which have arisen from them have tended to keep us alive.”

p. 219, on January 4th: “Instead of the usual geography, I read an hour or more from a statistical book which Lieutenant Kislingbury brought from Conger.”

p. 223, January 15th, 1884: “I talked for an hour upon the Indian Territory. Conversations of this character are not as popular as they have been, and they are exceedingly trying upon me, leaving me perfectly exhausted when I am through.”

p. 229-30 [Jan 25, 1884]: “In addition to commencing the ‘Life of St. Patrick,’ [Mary Cusack or Patrick Lynch?] and reading statistical information from the almanac, I perfected a chronological list of the principal events in the history of the world. After my stock of information was exhausted, I was materially assisted by Dr. Pavy and Sergeant Israel in extending the table.”

p. 231, January 28th: “Drilled Brainard and one or two others this evening in the chronological table. ‘Coningsby’ [Disraeli] was finished last night, and our attention is now directed to Kane [Arctic Explorations], whose record of his starvation diet creates in us an indescribable longing for even half as much food as his men had.”

p. 243, February 8th: “I read to-day from McCarthy’s ‘History (of Our Own Times)’ and Gardner from Hayes’ ‘Polar Sea.’ ”

p. 325: Sergeant Gardiner was a young man of excellent habits, fine mind, and amiable disposition, and had ambition and application. He was a valuable man to the expedition in many ways, and had endeared himself to his comrades. He was more religious than perhaps any other one in the party; although allowed only eight pounds of luggage on the retreat, he denied himself to bring with him his Bible, our only one, though I had a prayer book.

p. 331 [June 22, 1884]: I tried with indifferent success to read from my prayer-book and the few scraps we had, but the high wind and lack of food made it too exhausting.