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    A Relic from the Ill-fated Adolphus Greely 1881 Lady Franklin Bay Arctic Expedition from the Collection of J. S. Reigert. The relic is a large, heavy section of wood from the rudder of the United States Revenue Cutter The Bear. The relic measures 11.5" x 6" x 1.25". It has a large label affixed that reads (in part), "Piece of the rudder of the Arctic vessel the Bear sent by the U. S. Government to rescue Greely Expedition in the Arctic region ... From the Bklyn Navy Yard."

    The Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, officially know as the International Polar Expedition, into the Canadian Arctic was led by Lt. Adolphus Greely under the auspices of the United States Army Signal Corps. Its purpose was threefold: to establish a meteorological-observation station as part of the First International Polar Year, to collect astronomical and polar magnetic data.

    The expedition was led by Lt. Adolphus Greely of Fifth United States Cavalry, with a crew of 21 officers and men. It reached St. John's, Newfoundland in early July 1881. The continued north arriving without problems at Lady Franklin Bay by August 11. The summer had been extraordinarily warm, which lead to an underestimation of the difficulties for their relief expeditions to reach Lady Franklin Bay in subsequent years.

    By summer of 1882, the men were expecting a supply ship from the south. The ship laden with relief supplies, set out in July 1882 but, cut off by ice and weather, was forced to turn around prematurely. All the relief crew could do was leave some supplies at Smith Sound in August, and the remaining provisions in Newfoundland, with plans for their delivery the following year.

    In summer 1883, in accordance with his instructions for the case of two consecutive relief expeditions not reaching Fort Conger, Greely decided to head South with his crew. It had been planned that the relief ships should depot supplies along the Nares Strait, around Cape Sabine and at Littleton Island, if they were unable to reach Fort Conger, which should have made for a comfortable wintering of Greely's men. But, in reality only a small emergency cache with 40 days worth of supplies had been laid at Cape Sabine. When arriving there in October 1883, the season was too advanced for Greely to either try to brave the Baffin Bay to reach Greenland with his small boats, or to retire to Fort Conger, so he had to winter on the spot.

    In 1884, the Bear and three other rescue vessels made it to Greely's camp on June 22. Only seven men had survived the winter. The rest had succumbed to starvation, hypothermia, and drowning, and one man had been shot on Greely's order for repeated theft of food rations. During the expedition, two members of the crew reached a new "Farthest North" record.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2011
    25th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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