Proceedings of the “Proteus” Court of Inquiry on the Greely Relief Expedition of 1883.

p. 77, part of government inquire into the failure of the relief expedition of 1883 and the Proteus. The witness here is Lieut John C. Colwell:

[By the Recorder ]:

Q. Now, from your observation there and from your reading of the works of Arctic explorers, do you not know that Melville Bay is habitually full of ice and very much dreaded by all navigators in consequence, it being regarded as one of the most perilous parts of the route of Arctic travelers?—A. It is so regarded, but exceptional voyages have been made across Melville Bay when no ice has been seen.

p. 84, The witness here is Commander Frank Wildes, USN:

By the Court :

Q. Was this your first experience in the Polar seas?—A, Yes, sir.

Q. Then all your knowledge of the difficulties to be encountered in your sailing north was gathered I suppose from your reading?—A, From reading it since boyhood, from what I saw this summer, and from talking with people there.

Q. Of course, in your instructions, you must have understood the object of sending the Yantic as a tender to the Proteus—that there must be some object in view. What was your understanding of it?—A, Just what is stated in my orders; but I did not confine myself to them; I understood that I was to go beyond those orders; not to cover myself by the actual wording of the orders; I understood the object of the expedition.

p. 172 , the next witness was W illiam H. Clapp , of the Sixteenth Infantry:

By the Recorder :

Q. Do you remember, captain, that about November 1st, 1882, the Secretary of War returned the copy of the plan of the relief expedition of next year with the remark that it seemed to be much more desirable to endeavor to procure in the Navy the persons that are needed in this relief, and requesting the views of the Chief Signal Officer on that sub- ject?—A. I remember such a paper.

Q. Do you remember the discussion or consultation held, and the reply of the Chief Signal Officer that it would not be better to do so; that the expedition should be entirely under the control of the Signal Service? — A. I heard no discussion upon that subject. Lieutenant Greely’s plan for his relief contemplated the detail of men from the Army, and I always under- stood General Hazen favored that scheme.

Q. You were not called upon for advice upon that subject from your reading? — A. I was not.

Q. From the history of Arctic explorations, what would be your opinion as to the propriety of the conduct of an expedition by water being under direction of the Navy Department rather than the War Department, or in charge of the Army?—A. It seems to me that involves a criticism of even those greater than the Chief Signal Officer.

The Recorder . I will not press the question then.

The Court . You might give your opinion.

A. Am I to answer? Then my opinion would be that the conditions of ice travel and navigation through ice and over ice is so much different in every respect from what either landsmen or sailor experiences in ordinary life that neither would have much advantage of the other. I think success would be gained more by a resolute endeavor and a properly equipped party, without reference to whether they belonged to the one service or the other.

By the Recorder :

Q. Still, most Arctic expeditions have been intrusted by all civilized countries to the navy, have they not?—A. I think the majority of them.

By the Court :

Q. I will ask the question that if in the captain’s opinion the ship and crew should be under martial law, such law as would prevail in case of a ship regularly in the service of the Navy?

The Witness . You are speaking of the crew?

The Court . More especially of the crew itself.—A. Undoubtedly the restraint of discipline, the habits of discipline, are as valuable under the trying circumstances likely to be met with there as anywhere, probably more so.

Appendix p. 15 in No. 10 Special Orders No. 97, repeats the list of books to be sent on both of the IPY expeditions (see Greely report above for transcript). I see no mention of hectograph equipment which was used for printing aboard the base (e.g. Arctic Moon).

p. 26-29, Appendix 26 Aug 15, 1881, Greely’s first report from Fort Conger to Chief Signal Officer Hazen”, notes a cairn of Geo. Nares found, probably plundered “as a piece of London Newspaper, ‘The Standard,’ was found by me on the west side of the island. It contains a notice of a lecture by Sir geo. Nares in 1875.

Appendix 39, p. 35 has Hazen requesting from the Surgeon General US Army package of publications from his office, no doubt for Dr. Pavy’s use. Dated Dec, 3. 1881, doubtful whether the request ever was granted.

Appendix 214 deals with provisioning for Howgate’s 1880 Gulnare expedition to Lady Franklin Bay says of reading matter , This has been contributed in abundance, and is ready for shipment (p. 153).