Mainly Brainard’s diary of the Greely retreat from Fort Conger, starting on August 9, 1883, to the rescue of only six survivors of the twenty-eight men, including Brainard, in June 1884.
p. 70, August 29: Lanes opened in the direction of Cape Prescott this morning, but we were unable to get into them. Our time is passed principally in reading, sleeping and eating.
p. 120, Sunday October 21: A lemon was issued to each of us this morning in lieu of lime-juice [from a cache left by Proteus on Oct. 15]. The scraps of newspapers in which the lemons were wrapped have been removed and carefully dried for future reading. It will be a rare treat to receive news again from the civilized world. We have already learned from scraps that Garfield died and Arthur is President.
p. 123, October 27: According to an article written in May 1883 and salvaged from the lemons, Mr. Clay has been making noble efforts in behalf of our rescue. [Clay left the expedition in Greenland in 1881 after a falling out with Dr. Pavy.]
p. 124, October 29: To prevent our minds from becoming torpid, an hour or so each evening is devoted to reading aloud. Gardiner reads the Bible, Lieut. Greely, the army regulations (a copy was left for this abandoned Polar party in the wreck cache!) and Rice, one of Hardy’s novels. “Two in a Tower.”
p. 181, January 19: at Cross’s burial: The remains were dressed for burial by Biederbick and myself, and wrapped in a large gunny sack. Lieut. Greely read the beautiful Episcopal burial service while we were yet in our sleeping bags, and about noon the solemn procession moved slowly across the lake and up the gentle incline to the grave. The body was covered with the Stars and Stripes….
One cannot conceive of anything more unearthly—than this ghostly procession of emaciated men moving slowly and silently away from their wretched ice-prison in the uncertain light of the Arctic night, having in their midst a dead comrade about to be laid away forever in the frozen ground. It was a scene that I can never forget.
The bread ration has been increased to seven and a half ounces.
p. 220, March 28, in the midst of starvation: The evening readings which have been a source of so much gratification were discontinued this evening, owing to an inclination on the part of some to sleep rather than hear them.
p. 248, April 22: We have discarded reading at present owing to the scarcity of light and lack of interest. Our conversation flags for want of subjects, and all are asleep by 7 p.m. Undoubtedly it is better for us that our troubles are drowned in sleep so that the full extent of our misery may not at all times be apparent.