Report of:
Commander W. S. Schley, U.S.N
 
St. John's N. F., July 17,1884
 
Hon. W. E. Chandler, Secretary of Navy, Washington, D.C.:
 
Thetis, Bear, and Loch Garry arrived here to-day from West Greenland, all well, separated in gale from Alert yesterday 150 miles north.  At 9 p.m., June 22d, five miles west of Cape Sabine in Smith Sound, Thetis and Bear rescued alive Lieutenant A. W. Greely, Sergeant Brainard, Sergeant fredericks, Seargeant Long, Hospital Steward Bierderbick, Sergeant Elison, Private Connell, the only survivors of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition.
 
Sergeant Elison had lost both hands and feet by frost-bite, and died at Godhavn July 8th, three days after amputation, which had become imperative. Seventeen of the twenty-five persons composing the expedition perished by starvation at the point where found; one was drowned while sealing to procure food; twelve bodies of the dead were recovered and are now on board Thetis and Bear. One Eskimo, Frederick was buried at Disko in accordance with the disire of the Inspector of North Greenland. Five bodies buried in ice-foot near the camp were  swept away to sea by winds and currents before my arrival and could not be recovered. Names of dead recovered with the date of death as follows: Sergeant Cross, January 18, 1884; Fererick, Eskimo, April 5th; Sergeant Linn, April 6th; Lieutenant Lockwood, April 9th; Sergeant Jewell, April 12th; Private Ellis, May 19th; Sergeant Ralson, May 23d; Private Whistler, May 24th; Sergeant Israel, May 27th; Lieutenant Kislingbury, June 1st; Private Henry, June 6th; Private Scheider, June 18th. Names of dead buried in the ice-foot with date of death whose bodies were not recovered as follows: Sergeant Rice, April 9, 1884; Corporal Salor, June 3d; Private Bender, June 6th; A. A. Surgeon Pavy, June 6th; Sergeant Gardiner, June 12th. Drowned by breaking through newly-formed ice while sealing, Jens Edwards, Eskimo, April 24th. I would urgently suggest that the bodies now on board be placed in metallic cases here for safer and better transportaion in a sea-way; this appears to me imperative.
 
Greely abandoned Fort Conger August 9, 1883, reached Baird Inlet September 29th following, with party all well. Abandoned all his boats and was adrift for thirty days on ice floe in Smith Sound. His permanent camp was established October 21, 1883, at a point where he was found. During nine months this party had to live upon scant allowance of food brought from Fort conger, that cached at Payer harbor and Cape Isabella by Sir George Nares 1875, but found much damaged by lapse of time, that cached by Beebe at cape Sabine in 1882, and the small amount saved from the wreck of the Proteus in 1883 and landed by Lieutenants Garlington and Colwell on the beach where Greely's party was found camped. When these provisions were consumed party was forced to live upon boiled sealskin strips from their sealskin clothing, lichens, and shrimps procured in good weather when they were strong enough to make the exertion. As 1,300 shrimps were required to fill a gill measure, the labor was too exhausting to depend upon them to sustain life entirely.
 
Channel between Cape Sabine and Littleton Island did not close on account of violent gales all winter, so that 240 rations at latter point could not be reached. All Greely's records and instruments brought by him from Fort Conger are recovered and on board.
 
From Hare Island to Smith Sound I had a constant  and furious struggle with ice. Impassable floes and solid barriers were overcome by watchfulness and patience; no opertunity to advance a mile escaped me, and for several hundred miles ships were forced to ram their way from lead to lead through ice ranging in thickness from three to seven feet, and where rafted much greater.
 
Thetis and Bear reached Cape New York June 18th, after a passage of twenty days in Melville bay, with two advance ships of the Dundee whaling fleet, and continued to Cape sabine. Returning seven days later fell in with seven others of the fleet off Wolstenholme Island, and announced Greely's rescue to them, That they might not be delayed from their fishing grounds, nor be tempted into the dangers of Smith Sound in view of the reward of $25,000 offered by Congress.
 
Returning across Melvilee Bay fell in with Alert and Loch Garry off Devils Thumb struggling through heavy ice. Commander Coffin did admirably to get along so far with  transport so early in the season before an opening occurred. Lieutenant Emory with the Bear has supported me throughout with geat skillfulness and unflinching readiness in accomplishing the great duty of relieving Greely. I would ask instructions about Loch Garry, as the charter party heald by her master differs in several important particulars from mine.
 
Greely party are much improved in health since rescue, but condition was critical in extreme when found and for some days after. Forty-eight hours' delay in reaching them would have been fatal to all now living. Season north is late and closest for years; Kane Sea was not open when I left Cape Sabine. Winter about Melville Bay most severe for thirty years.
 
This great result is entirely due to the prompt action and unwaried energy of yourself and Secretary of War in fitting this expedition for the work it has had the honor to accomplish.
 
W. S. Schley, Commander.
 
More information on W. S. Schley 
Source: Schley, W. S. Rescue of Greely, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1885, p 267-271
Image source: Kersting, Rudolf, The White World, New york, Lewis, Scribner & Co, 1902, p 15
Back to Greely Expedition Directory ||| Back to Main Page