George Delong, 1879
Expedition
(Expedition Summary)
In 1879 Lieutenant Commander G. W. De Long organized an expedition to the north by way of Bering Sea. His vessel, the JEANETTE, partly outfitted by James  Gordon Bennett, sailed in the summer of 1879 from San Francisco, but by the first part of September she was frozen fast in the ice fields. She remained imprisoned in the ice until June, 1881, when the ice finally released her momentarily only to crush and sink her the next minute. So quickly had the catastrophe happened that barely time was given to get the officers and men clear of the ship before she sank. A small quantity of provisions was saved and three boats. The position of the survivors was most perilous. They were on the ice north of Siberia and the distance to the nearest settlement was over five hundred miles away. A brave struggle against hopeless odds now began and not until three months later did the little band reach the mouth of the Lena River. Here a storm separated the three boats and one of the boats foundered with all hands. De Long with thirteen men was overtaken by a blizzard and all perished. The chief engineer, G. W. Melville, with part of his party alone managed to find a settlement and assistance. They recovered the bodies of De Long and his companions in March 1882, and brought them back to the United States.


Reynolds, J. Frank, The United States Navy From the Revolution to Date. (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1918) 62.


 Back to Delong Directory |||| Back to Expeditions Page ||| Back to Main Page