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The life of Dr. Elisha Kent, and of other distinguished American explorers : containing narratives of… Smucker, Samuel M. (Samuel Mosheim), 1823-1863 1859

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.  raSZB
J         THE
pistinjjttislt^ ginrapnm (B^lm'p:
G.    G.    EVANS,
—'Up' Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.
Geographical explorers and discoverers constitute a
peculiar and distinct class of men; and in many respects
their qualities and achievements are homogeneous. Yet,
rich as is our literature in historical and biographical
works, there is no single volume extant which contains
a collection of the lives of the most distinguished Americans of this description. The present writer has endeavored to supply this deficiency, to some extent, in
the following pages; and he has selected, as the subjects
of his narrative, those individuals who seemed to him to
be most remarkable in themselves and to possess the
strongest hold on public interest and attention. In
preparing this work, the author bas appropriated to his
use the most reliable sources of information which were
accessible, without encroaching upon the rights of others;
and an effort has been made to render the biographies as
complete as the limits of a single volume would permit.
These limits must be regarded as very circumscribed,
when the amplitude and variety of the subject are taken
into consideration; and hence the reader will observe
that, in several of the concluding sections of the volume, 4 PREFACE.
the strictly biographical form has been dropped; the
more immaterial and obscure portions of the lives of
the subjects of them are overlooked; and the narrative
is confined to those events which are most important
and historical. As the adventures of Dr. Kane were in
many respects more remarkable than those of his rivals,
a corresponding prominence has been given to his memoirs, both in the work itself and in its title. Some of
the heroes of the following pages are living, and some
are dead. In regard to all of them the writer has spoken
with impartial freedom and candor, without any reference to the approbation or the censure of those who
might be interested in the subject.
The likeness of Dr. Kane contained in this volume,
is taken from a fall-length portrait published at great
expense by the proprietors of the New York Albion, as
a premium to their subscribers. It is regarded by competent judges as the best portrait of its distinguished
subject now extant, and as preserving the most accurate
resemblance to his features and expression. The publisher of this volume has been permitted, by the liberality
and courtesy of the proprietors of that valuable journal,
to use this plate as far as was necessary for the present
S. X  S
Philadelphia, November, 1857. CONTENTS.
Introduction .....      9
Chap. I.—Youth and Early Training of Dr. Kane  15
U.—Oriental Wanderings, Discoveries, and Perils  23
HI.—Dr. Kane's Adventures in Mexico—Sketch of Arctic
Exploration  29
IV.—Dr. Kane's Eirst Arctic Expedition—Scenes in Baffin's
Bay  39
V.—Adventures and Discoveries at Beechey Island  47
VI.—Winter Life in the Arctic Regions  55
VIE.—Dr. Kane's   Matrimonial Views—His  Congressional
Patronage—His Unconquerable Enthusiasm  73
VIII.—Dr. Kane's Second Arctic Expedition  80
IX.—Researches and Adventures near the Pole  88
X.—Concluding Labors and Return of the Expedition  100
XL—Dr. Kane's  Official Report of the Second Grinnell
Expedition.  Ill
XIL—Dr. Kane's Last Labors, Hlness, and Death  127
XIII.—Obsequies of Dr. Kane—Estimate of his Character.... 134
1* 5 6
Chap. L—Fremont's Youth and First Expedition  151
II.—Incidents of Fremont's Second Expedition  174
HL—CoL Fremont's Third Expedition, and its Results  186
1Y.—Col. Fremont's Fourth Exploring Expedition «.. 203
V.—Col. Fremont's Fifth Expedition and Political Honors 229
PART in.
Chap. I.—Youth and Early Education of Ledyard  261
IX—Ledyard's Voyage with Capt. Cook around the World 269
HI.—Adventures of Ledyard in France, Russia, and Siberia. 302
IV.—Further Adventures of Ledyard in Siberia* ..... 815
V.—Ledyard's Expedition to Central Africa  321
Chap. I.—Purposes of the United States Exploring Expedition 330
II.—Explorations in the Southern Ocean and Chili . 335
III.—Explorations in Peru and the Paumoto Group  341
IV.—Researches at Tahiti, and Discovery of the Antarctie
Continent .  352
V.—Termination of the Expedition—Controversy with Col.
Fremont  360 -
PART V.      v I
Chap. I.—Origin and Aims of the Expedition to Japan  865
H,—Public Interview between Com. Perry and the Imperial
Commissioners •••••••••• ...••...•••••. 877
tIT.—Establishment of a Commercial Treaty with the Japanese Empire......................................  385
IV.—Concluding Labors of Com. Perry in Japan and Lew
Chew................—... mi mm ~  400 . INTEODUCTION.
It is-the singular merit of this Republic that,
during a brief national existence which has not yet
attained the limits of a century, she has produced
men in each department of intellectual excellence,
who are celebrated in every portion of the civilized
world. It is also a remarkable circumstance connected with the progressive and rapid development
of the national greatness, that its master-spirits in
every sphere have been evoked into a splendid and
efficient existence, precisely in proportion as the
developing wants of the country demanded their
presence and their activity.
The first necessity of the young Republic was the
possession of soldiers and generals whose skill and
prowess should overturn the unjust supremacy of
Britain, by their achievements on the battle-field,
and thus repel the aggressions of the most powerful
nation on the globe. That necessity was satisfied
as soon as felt, from the rich resources of the nation;
9 10
for the deeds of Washington and his associates m
the camp will forever remain, a brilliant and honorable record on the historic page. The next want of
the Confederacy was that of statesmen, whose profound and sagacious minds could comprehend the
peculiar form of government best adapted to promote the welfare of the people; who possessed the
requisite ability to construct such a government; and
who were gifted with the practical talent afterward
to administer its laws with energy, fidelity, and
success. And then also, in that great crisis of the
nation's destiny, there arose men whose superiors
as statesmen the world has never seen; for all men
concede the matchless ability of Alexander Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and their chief associates.
Under their guidance and under that of their
worthy successors, among whom Quincy Adams,
Clay, Calhoun, and Webster rank as noblest and
greatest, the territories of the republic have gradually extended, until they now comprise an entire
continent filled with a numerous brotherhood of
nations, each one of which is equal in wealth, intelligence, and power to many of the renowned king*
doms of the Old World. Everywhere we now behold
the prevalence and supremacy of equal laws, of
skilful legislation, of judicious education, of industry, security, and prosperity, as the result of the ——
masterly ability with which the leading minds of the
nation, 'during the last half-century, have moulded
and developed the prodigious resources of the people
for whom they were called to legislate.
But physical interests and wants are not the only
ones which have stirred within the breasts of the
twenty millions of freemen who inhabit the land.
There is a better department of man's nature than
that appropriated to the mere acquisition of wealth,
or the development of material resources. The
whole history of civilization during past ages proves,
that its progress has % always been associated first
with the practical and necessary, afterward with the
ornate and the superfluous, wants and gratifications
of the community. Arts and sciences, literature and
refinement, inevitably follow in the train of wealth,
liberty, and power; and to gratify these more elevated and cultivated impulses of humanity, abilities
are necessary which are different in character from
those exhibited by the chief actors in the practical
and necessary departments of mental labor.
Here again the Republic displayed the creative
richness and abundance of her resources; for she
now boasts many immortal names in the various
departments of science, literature, artistic skill, and
mechanical invention. She may point to such rare
men as Benjamin West, Washington Irving, Bry- 12
ant, Noah Webster, Story, Fulton, and Morse; the
last of whom seems to possess the power of distributing and circulating the lightning over the face
of the earth, in obedience to his will, with almost
the same facility as that with which Omnipotence
wields and manages the thunderbolts, in the blue
concave of heaven. It may be asserted, without
the least exaggeration, that few nations of ancient
or modern times have produced so many gifted
minds in every department of intellectual power,
during so short a period of national existence, as
the United States.
But there is still another high and noble sphere
of endeavor, which the best impulses of a great
people will eventually comprehend, when the more
immediate and pressing necessities of their existence
have been satisfied. This sphere requires as elevated
a range of mental ability as many of those to which
we have just referred; with an advantage over some
of them in the sublimity of sentiment and the disinterested philanthropy which impel men to becomo
heroes in it. This is the department in which the
resources of science are appropriated to the accomplishment of the aims of benevolence and philanthropy. Such as these are the missionaries of
religion and knowledge, who explore the dark
places of the earth carrying in their hands the INTRODUCTION.
torches both of divine and human wisdom. Such
as these are the adventurers who, while they place
their own existence in jeopardy, visit the domains of
physical suffering, privation, and peril, either to rescue
others whom an unpropitious fate has there detained
in continual danger of destruction; or who endure
the utmost extremes of all that men can undergo,
in order to extend the boundaries of knowledge, to
investigate^ the hidden mysteries of the globe, and
ascertain what portion of its treasures may yet remain unknown, which, if appropriated to the service
of man, might elevate his nature, might ameliorate
his condition, and might increase his happiness.
We have selected the most distinguished persons
of this class of whom the nation can boast, as the
subjects of the following pages; although there are
several others whose biographies might not unfitly
have been added to the list, had the limits of the
volume permitted. Such men are indispensably
necessary to the completion and fulness of a nation's glory. They are just as requisite for that
purpose as profound statesmen, as able writers, as
sublime poets, as learned divines, as ingenious inventors. Till such men arose to toil for the enlargement of human knowledge and the promotion of
human felicity, a lofty niche in the great Pantheon
of the national glory remained unfilled.   Those who
2 14
are entitled to an enduring position there are being
gradually elevated, by the suffrages of an impartial
and enlightened community, to their appropriate eminences : and while Britannia, the boasted mistress of
the seas, heralds with vaunting pride the names
and the achievements of her Ross, Parry, Franklin,
Beechey, and Cook, Columbia may justly demand
an equal meed of fame for her Kane, Fremont,
Ledyard, Wilkes, and Perry; and she is recreant to
her own honor if she do not proclaim their merits
more widely to the world* PART L
Elisha Kent Kane was born in the city of Philadelphia, on the third day of February, 1820. He
was the eldest son of the Hon. John K. Kane, who,
since 1845, has presided in the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Several of the ancestors of the subject of this memoir were distinguished by their deeds of patriotism
and philanthropy during the memorable era of the
Revolution. It is narrated in the annals of that
eventful time that one of these, Mrs. Martha Gray,
won the gratitude of the American army and people
by her assiduity in rendering assistance to nine
hundred sick and wounded prisoners, who had fallen
into the hands of the British when they held possession of Philadelphia. These unfortunate men
were destitute of necessary food, clothing, and me-
15 16
dical treatment. They were made the victims of
every imaginable outrage which the cruelty and
malignity of their captors could inflict. In spite of
very considerable obstacles, Mrs. Gray visited them
repeatedly in their prison; nursed, fed, and clothed
them to the extent of her ability: and was even
arrested as a spy by the British officers, who were
incensed at her kindly and charitable interference.
She nevertheless persisted in her good offices until
the discharge of the prisoners; when her services
were properly acknowledged by a unanimous vote
of thanks passed by the American officers immediately after their release.
Of Thomas Leiper, another ancestor of Dr. Kane,
it is recorded that he was a special favorite of General-Washington, and that he was present and fought
in many of the most important battles of the Revolution. It was he whom the Continental Congress
selected to perform the difficult and responsible
duty of conveying to the commander-in-chief, then
► engaged in the siege of Boston, the first money
which was sent by them to defray the expenses of
the war. This commission Colonel Leiper executed
with great prudence and success. It was he who,
at a much later period, in conjunction with his
friend Robert Morris, the leading financier of the
Revolution, loaned one-third of his personal estate JSLISHA   KENT  KANE.
to the Bank of North America, to enable it to
furnish Washington with the means necessary to
accomplish his masterly march to Yorktown; which
resulted in the fall of that fortress, in the capture
of the whole army of Lord Cornwallis, in the honor-
able and triumphant termination of the war, and
in the establishment of the liberty, the unity, and
the prosperity of this Confederacy. After peace
was proclaimed, Colonel Leiper refused to accept
any remuneration for his services except the thanks
of General Washington. He afterward became one
of the most prominent Jeffersonian or Democratic
politicians of his native State, though he constantly
refused to accept any office of emolument or profit*
The peculiar disposition of Elisha Kane, as displayed in his early youth, furnished infallible prognostications of the future man. He was remarkable
for his activity, his vivacity, his restless energy both
of mind and body. Although his physical frame
exhibited but an ordinary degree of strength, it
possessed an unusual proportion of hidden power
and vitality. His mental qualities corresponded with
the peculiarities of his bodily structure* He was
bold, daring, reckless, and resistive to a wonderful
extent. Any cautious and reflective individual of
the wiser sort, calmly observing for a moment the
restless activity which he displayed in all his move-
2* 18
ments, would have unhesitatingly predicted a broken
head or a dislocated neck as the speedy and inevitable termination of his career. Of temper, too, he
was not by any means deficient, but he possessed
even more than an ordinary share of it; although his
pugnacity was generally controlled by the superior
direction of his reason. When he did indulge his
combative propensities, it was usually in defence of
juvenile rights, in punishment of infantile wrongs,
and in vindication of injured and helpless innocence.
His daring and venturesome disposition often placed
him in positions of great peril; and the future and
more historical dangers of the Arctic zone were not
unfrequently anticipated on the tops of lofty houses,
among the limbs of towering trees, in escaping
through trap-doors upon the roofs, and in climbing
to the summit of tall, smoking chimneys. Whatever was most desperate and perilous within the
accomplishment of the most resolute of boys, thai
possessed a peculiar and irresistible attraction for
the youthful adventurer. Yet even at an early age,
though rebellious against restraint both at home and
at school, he gave striking proofs of a penetrating
and vigorous intellect. His faculty of observation
was acute, sagacious, and comprehensive. There
was much intellectual substance closely packed in
his somewhat diminutive frame, like a mental coil ELI8HA  KENT  KANE.
or web, ready to be afterward unfolded and developed by the exigencies of great occasions and
the perils of critical positions. The language of an
eminent writer may be applied to him with peculiar
propriety: " That inconsiderable figure of his contained a whole spirit-kingdom and Reflex of the
All; and, though to the eye but some five standard
feet in size, reaches downwards and upwards, un-
surveyable, fading into the regions of Immensity
and Eternity. Life everywhere, as woven on that
stupendous ever-marvellous Loom of Time, may be
said to fashion itself of a woof of light, yet on a
warp of mystic darkness: only He that created it
can understand it."*
The first place of instruction which Elisha Kane
attended was that conducted by Mr. Waldron, in
Eighth street near Walnut, in his native city. This
gentleman, who has since become a priest of the
Roman Catholic Church, was a man of superior
education, and fully competent to perfect his pupils
in all the elementary branches of learning. After
spending some time under his tuition to little purpose, Elisha was sent to the University of Virginia,
where he entered one of the subordinate classes.
* Vide Miscellanies of Thomas Carlyle: Essay on Diderot, Boston
ed., Phillips, Sampson & Co., 1855. 20
While connected with this institution^ his habits of
study were desultory but energetic. Even then he
displayed a singular fondness for geographical adventure and discovery, which never afterward abated.
The University of Virginia was selected as a suitable institution for the completion of the collegiate
studies of Elisha Kane, because the course of instruction there used was better adapted to improve
him in his favorite branches. These were the natural
sciences and mathematics. In other departments
of study his inattention or his indifference had
rendered him deficient; but in the former he excelled. During the year and a half which he spent
at the Virginia University he became a favorite
pupil of Professor Rodgers, who was at that time
employed in effecting a geological survey of the
Blue Mountains. Young Kane accompanied him
in his labors, and displayed the utmost zeal in
making geological, mineralogical, and botanical researches. At this period he seems to have selected
civil engineering as his future profession in life;
and he shaped his studies with reference to that
ultimate purpose. Already he had acquired an
honorable eminence among his fellow-students in
the department to which his attention was chiefly
directed, and it is probable that he would have completed his mathematical and scientific studies with ELISHA KENT KANE.
distinction; but in his eighteenth year he was compelled to relinquish them, in consequence of a violent
attack of rheumatism, and the unexpected appearance
of the first symptoms of that dangerous and insidious
affection of the heart with which he was afflicted,
to a greater or less degree, during the remainder of
his life. He was brought home dangerously sick,
wifliout having taken a degree. During several
months his life was in imminent danger. The
nature of his disease was such that the summons
of death might reach him at any instant, and terminate his existence suddenly and abruptly. During
some weeks he may be said to have been hovering
over the abyss of the grave, uncertain as to the
moment in which he might be compelled to descend
beneath its gloomy shadows.
It was while he continued in this critical situation
that an important moral change was effected in his
mind. He became devout and conscientious. He
adopted certain religious opinions and ethical rules,
to which he adhered, with the pertinacious constancy
peculiar to his character, as long as he lived. It
will not be pretended that all the acts of his subsequent career were blameless or sans faute ; but that
he always believed them to be such will not be denied by any candid and intelligent observer of his
conduct. !?
• The health of Elisha Kane gradually improved.
In his nineteenth year he commenced the study of
medicine, in the office and under the tuition of Dr.
Harris, of Philadelphia. He engaged in this pursuit
with great ardor and success, inasmuch as he had at
that time determined to devote his life to the practice of the healing art. So marked was his progress
that, in October, 1840, he was elected one of the
resident physicians in the Block] ey Hospital, although he had not yet attained his majority, had
attended but one course of medical lectures, and
was still, therefore, an undergraduate. In the succeeding year, a vacancy having occurred among
the Senior Resident Physicians in that institution,
Elisha Kane was chosen to fill it. A promotion of
this important description clearly evinces superior
ability, industry, prudence, and general excellence
of character on the part of its youthful recipient;
for, although some of this success may be ascribed
to the patronage of friends, much more should be
attributed to his own personal merit.
In March, 1842, having been connected during the
period of a year and a half with the Blockley Hospital, Elisha Kane completed his regular course of
medical studies in the University of Pennsylvania?
and received his doctor's degree. On this occasion he*
chose for the subject of his thesis the unfamiliar and
esoteric theme known under the name of Kyestein.
This term represents a new substance which had
but shortly before that period been discovered by a
member of the medical profession in Paris; and it
was then supposed to possess great importance in
investigations having reference to utero-gestation.
The inquiry was new and important. A few experiments had already been made in reference to it in
the hospital; but Dr. Kane, having selected it as the
topic of his thesis, entered into more enlarged and
accurate researches on the subject. The result of
these labors was, that his production was regarded
by those best qualified to judge, as possessing unusual interest and permanent scientific value; and
23 I
as such, a copy was requested by the faculty for
publication. An incident of this description clearly
indicated the superior attainments and abilities of
the newly-fledged ^Esculapius.
Having thus entered the medifcal profession with
more than ordinary promise of success, Dr. Kane
obtained from the Secretary of the Navy permission
to undergo an examination for the post of surgeon.
The result, as might have been anticipated, was
favorable* When Caleb Cushing sailed in May, 1843,
upon his diplomatic mission to China, Dr. Kane received an appointment as one of the physicians to
the embassy. He was attached to the Brandywine,:
commanded by Commodore Parker. The vessel
touched at Bombay, and was unexpectedly detained
there during some months in consequence of the
burning: of the steamer Missouri. During: this in-
terval the young traveller embraced the opportunity
to visit and examine the celebrated cavernous temples
of Elephanta. He also explored a portion of the
tropical island of Ceylon, and there revelled amid
the rarest scenes of Oriental adventure and travel.
From Ceylon the embassy proceeded to Macao,
its ultimate destination in the Celestial Empire.
Half a year was employed in the tedious negotiations which ensued between the American and the
Chinese plenipotentiaries; but Dr. Kane was in- ELISHA KENT  KANE.
capable at any time of listless idleness and inactivity. He employed this interval to excellent
purpose. He was aware that the Philippine Islands,
and especially Luzon, the largest of them, contained
many peculiar features which were worthy of scientific scrutiny and observation. He eagerly embraced
the opportunity now afforded him to examine them.
Prominent among the natural phenomena of this
quarter of the globe was the celebrated volcano of
Tael, in the island of Luzon. Its mysterious and
perilous depths had never yet been explored, or even
invaded, by the adventurous foot of man. To the
native Malays it was shrouded in mysterious awe
and terror, as the supposed abode of their great
god, the Deity of the Tael; and they regarded any
attempt to penetrate its depths, or to descend into its
bosom, as fraught with sacrilegious crime, as well as
attended by inevitable death. Dr. Kane was totally
uninfluenced by any such considerations; nor did
he heed the graver objections resulting from the great
personal danger which attended the exploration
which he proposed. The summit of the crater of
Tael is two miles in circumference. Its perpendicular
height is four hundred yards above the level of the
sea. The interior of the crater descends seventy
yards in a perpendicular direction, after which the
declension becomes less abrupt.    At the bottom of 26
the crater there are many active peaks or cones,
whence constantly issue jets of sulphurous flame;
while in the cavities between them there are bodies
of boiling green water.
Into this uninviting pandemonium Dr. Kane determined to descend. Attended by suitable guides
and assistants, he reached the summit of the crater.
His associates, appalled by the spectacle below, did
their utmost to persuade him not to venture amid
the imminent perils which overhung -the attempt;
but they reasoned in vain. A long bamboo rope
was accordingly procured, fastened round his waist,
and the adventurer was slowly lowered down the perpendicular wall which surrounded the summit of the
cone. Having descended two hundred feet by this
means, Dr. Kane detached himself from the line, and
still proceeded down toward the mouth or centre of
the crater, several hundred feet below. Here, while
hanging over the central vortex of the volcano, and
while compelled to inhale the deadly sulphurous
vapor which rolled up from its fiery mouth, he
deliberately filled his bottles with the volcanic acid,
and gathered geological specimens and sconce, in
possession of which he effected his return to the invaluable rope. But by this time his strength had
become nearly exhausted. With great difficulty he
succeeded in placing the bamboo again around his ELISnA  KENT  KANE.
body; and, giving the appointed signal to his attendants above to heave away, he was drawn up from
that Tartarean cavern more dead than alive. He
fainted on reaching the summit of the crater, and
was with difficulty restored to consciousness by the
use of active medical agents.
From Luzon Dr. Kane returned to Macao. In
August, 1844, the American embassy sailed on its
voyage home; but Dr. Kane did not accompany it.
It was his purpose not to follow so direct a route,
nor to travel in such haste, but to embrace the
opportunity which was then afforded him to visit
the vast and interesting countries which intervened.
Accordingly he journeyed through the interior of
India, and traversed the Himalaya Mountains.
Travelling westward through those romantic climes
of the gorgeous Orient, whose historical glories and
whose natural wonders no one was able to appreciate
better than himself he reached Alexandria. Hence
he proceeded to the examination of the mysteries
and wonders of the land of the Nile. He visited
Thebes, the city of a hundred gates ; the Pyramids;
the Second Cataracts; the Temples of Rameses;
the mysterious and once musical, but now voiceless,
statue of Memnon. From Egypt he proceeded to
Greece, and visited Athens, Leuctra, Parnassus, and
the historical plains of Plataea and Thermopylae. ■I
Having exhausted the most interesting and instructive localities within the confines of the once fair and
free Hellas, he journeyed on by the Adriatic to
Venice, still "throned upon her hundred isles;"
and from Vienna, through Germany, Switzerland,
and France, to London, and thence to his native
Dr. Kane reached the United States in August,
1846. Being still connected with the navy as
assistant surgeon, and being desirous, as usual, of
engaging in active service, he was shortly afterward
despatched to the coast of Africa, in the frigate
" United States," under the orders of Commodore
Reed. The object of this expedition was to aid in the
suppression of the slave-trade; and during his residence near the kingdom of Dahomey, one of the great
African marts of that bloody and inhuman traffic,
Dr. Kane had an opportunity of exploring a portion
of the interior of that benighted kingdom. He was
here violently attacked by the coast fever. The
disease made formidable ravages upon his delicate
constitution; and he was so greatly reduced that
he was sent home in a Liberian transport-ship, as
the only possible means of averting certain and im*
pending death. CHAPTER ILL
Dr. Kane never recovered from the ravages produced by the African fever upon his system. It
required some months of assiduous care and nursing
before he became able to think again of any serious
engagement. The war between the United States
and Mexico was then in progress; and as his physical frame recovered a portion of its strength, his
mind regained its wonted energy^and activity. He
could not rest idly while other men were fighting
the battles of his country, and winning the laurels
which are due to the brave. Accordingly, toward
the end of the year 1847 he applied to President
Polk for permission to join the army in Mexico
with a military commission. The President, after
some deliberation, granted his request, ordered him
to join the medical staff of the army, and intrusted
him with important despatches for General Scott.
He journeyed rapidly to New Orleans, and sailed
thence to Vera Cruz.   Escaping shipwreck in the
a*     - id   -J7?
Gulf as by a miracle, he entered that port, disembarked, and advanced toward the position occupied
by the American army as far as Perote.
It was on this occasion that one of the most
romantic incidents connected with the whole career
of Dr. Kane occurred. He found it absolutely
necessary to obtain an escort before advancing any
farther into the hostile territory, which was filled
with roving companies of guerrillas. It was impossible at that moment to secure any other protection
than that afforded by a renegade Mexican named
Dominguez, who had entered the American service
together with a large number of his desperate and
outlawed associates. Thus attended, Dr. Kane continued his journey toward the city of Mexico.
When they arrived at Nopaluca, the intelligence
arrived, that a body of Mexican troops was approaching for the purpose of intercepting him and seizing
the despatches. Overcome with terror, Dominguez
immediately proposed to retreat; but Kane vehemently resisted this purpose, and threatened him
with the vengeance of the American Government
should he execute it. By this time the two hostile
parties came in sight of each other on the summit
of a hill. Kane immediately commanded his men
to charge, and himself led them forward with the
coolness and heroism of a veteran. ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
The Mexicans were commanded by General
Gaona, a soldier of some distinction in the service
of his country. He was accompanied by his son, a
young officer of great promise. Dr. Kane's horse
was severely wounded and fell to the ground. He
soon released himself from the prostrate animal,
and continued to fight. The action was brief but
decisive. General Gaona and his son were both
wounded; General Torrejon, five officers, and forty
privates were taken prisoners. Dr. Kane was himself slightly wounded, and conducted himself on
this occasion with great gallantry. The victory of
the Americans was complete.
But the most singular episode of this occasion yet
remained to be enacted. The younger Gaona was
bleeding to death from his wound in the lungs.
Dr. Kane, perceiving his critical condition, succeeded
in tying up a severed artery, and thus saved the life
of his gallant foe. After journeying for some distance with their prisoners, the savage Dominguez
seemed determined to wreak his vengeance on the
captives by putting them to death. This inhuman
purpose Dr. Kane resolutely opposed; but it was not
until he displayed the most determined repugnance
to it, and even drew his revolver and threatened
to shoot the first man who laid his hand upon a pri-
tfoner, that he succeeded in changing the intention 32
of the bloodthirsty bandit. The whole Mexican
party owed their lives to the heroic firmness of Dr.
Kane; and General Gaona subsequently testified
his sense of gratitude to his preserver, when he was
attacked with dangerous illness, by having him conveyed to his own sumptuous residence in the city of
Puebla, and nursing him there in his own family
with the utmost care and assiduity until his partial
recovery. A considerable interval elapsed before
that event was attained; and so greatly had Dr. Kane
been prostrated by his disease, which was an aggravated form of typhus, that the report of his death
became prevalent, and even reached his relatives in
Philadelphia. But the tender offices of the grateful old general and of his accomplished and beautiful daughters once more rescued our hero from the
gaping jaws of the grave.
As soon as Dr. Kane recovered sufficiently to be
able to travel, he hastened to the city of Mexico and
delivered his despatches into the hands of General
Scott. He remained at the seat of war until peace
was proclaimed. When that propitious event occurred he began to journey homeward. In April
he embarked at Vera Cruz; and in a short time he
reached Philadelphia, still suffering severely from
the wound which he had received in the action at
Nopaluca.    In February, 1849, a number of the ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
most distinguished citizens of Philadelphia, rightly
judging that some honorary memorial of his gallanj
services was due, presented him with a handsome
sword, as an evidence of their high appreciation, of
his short but brilliant military career.
In the year 1849 Dr. Kane made a voyage in the
store-ship "Supply" to the Mediterranean, During
this trip, as if to furnish him with a general variety
and assortment df-bodily ailments, he suffered an
attack of lockjaw. He bled himself profusely, and,
by so doing, prolonged his life. He returned home,
and spent a large portion of the year 1850 in attempts to recruit his shattered health, partly in his
native State and partly beneath the more genial sky
of a Southern clime. During this period a subject
admirably adapted to enlist the profoundest interest
of a person possessing his peculiar qualities and
temperament was deeply engaging the public atten-?
tion. Several hundreds of British seamen had been
enveloped and lost amid the eternal snows of the
Polar clime; and their rescue from death, or the
discovery of their fete if dead, became an enterprise
which excited the admiring sympathy of the civilized
world. Would it be possible for Elisha Kent Kane
to view such a theme and such a purpose with cold
indifference ?
The discovery of a passage to the East Indies by
o 34
the North Pole—thus obtaining a much more direct
route than by doubling the distant and stormy Cape
of Good Hope—is one of those Utopian and fanciful conceptions, which have charmed and deluded
the imaginations of nautical men during severai
centuries. The first formal proposition which was
ever made on the subject by a person of consequence
came from a distinguished merchant of Bristol, who,
in 1527, presented a memorial to King Henry VHL
of England, setting forth some considerations in
favor of the feasibility and desirableness of obtaining
such a passage. But that royal and detestable brute
was too busjly engaged in gratifying his passions and
divorcing and murdering his wives, to devote any
serious attention to so dangerous and repulsive an
enterprise. The first expedition which ♦was sent
forth to explore the Polar seas was fitted out by a
few merchants of London during the earlier portion
of the seventeenth century. Their exertions did not
accomplish any important results or attain any very
valuable information; yet the subject attracted
public attention, and the lapse of time was only
necessary to increase the interest already felt in
reference to it.
In 1773 the first expedition which was organized
with the patronage of the British Government was
despatched under the command t£ Captain Phipps, ELISHA KENT KANE.
who had secured the favorable influence of Lord
Sandwich, the First Lord of the Admiralty. His
squadron consisted of the "Racehorse" and the
"Carcass;" and although the commander was an
officer of great ability and resolution, such happened
at that time to be the peculiar and perilous condition of the Polar seas, that he found it impossible
to penetrate the immense wall of ice which stretched
between the latitude of eighty-one degrees to the
north of Spitzbergen.
The Russian navigators have divided with those
of Great Britain the chief honors attendant upon
the exploration of the Arctic zone. In 1648 one of
the former, Admiral Deshnew, penetrated through
the Polar into the Pacific Ocean. In 1741 the intrepid Behring discovered the straits which now
bear his name and render it immortal. Captains
Tschischagoff, Vancouver, Billings, and Von Wran-
gell were all celebrated Russian explorers, who, at
different periods and under various circumstances,
toiled heroically to force the colossal barriers which
seemed to conceal so jealously from the scrutiny of
man the secrets of that repulsive and inhospitable
The wars which shook the continent of Europe
during Napoleon's prodigious career suspended for
a time all activity in Arctic research.   Previous to «6
this period Captain Hearne had obtained a glimpse
of the Polar Sea, in 1771; and not long after, Captain MacKenzie discovered the river which flows
into that hyperborean gulf to which his own name
was given. These adventurers succeeded in exploring the eastern and western coasts of Greenland
as far as 75° N. latitude. Hudson's Bay and Strait
had also been clearly traced by the intrepid navigator of that name. But all the greater and more
perilous arcana of that vast world of frozen moun*
tains, seas, coasts, and headlands, still remained un-
invaded and unknown to the most resolute intruder.
With the establishment of a European peace
the attention of the English Government was again
attracted to this subject. In 1818 Sir John Ross
achieved his first Arctic voyage in the ships " Isabella" and "Alexander." No previous expedition
had ever been so fully equipped as this for the important purposes and arduous duties for which it was
intended. Captain Ross explored Smith's, Jones's,
and Lancaster Sounds, and made many valuable
observations and discoveries. In the same year
Captains Buchan and Franklin were sent out to
the coast of Spitzbergen in the "Dorothea" and
"Trent." This was the first Arctic voyage made by
that heroic commander whose labors and whose
mysterious  fate have, during so many years, so ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
deeply engaged the attention and sympathy of the
civilized world. In 1820 the expedition under
Captain William Parry was undertaken, which was
afterward followed, in 1821, by his second and more
famous venture. In 1824 the same able commander
achieved his third Arctic voyage. Our limited space
forbids us to enumerate seriatim even the most important expeditions which ensued, during the progress of the present century, in pursuit of the same
great achievement of Arctic discovery,—the attainment of a northwest passage.* In 1845, Sir John
JPranklin, who had continued to serve with increasing
distinction in the British navy since the year 1800,
embarked on his last memorable Arctic expedition,
in command of the ships "Erebus" and "Terror."
Great expectations were entertained in reference to
the probable results to be effected by this expedition,
in consequence of the high fame already secured
by its commander for ability, resolution, and experience. No apprehensions were felt for the safety
of the expedition tiH after the lapse of three years,
* The reader will find a complete history of all these expedition3
in the work entitled "Arctic Explorations and Discoveries during the
Nineteenth Century, being Detailed Accounts of the Several Expeditions made to the North Seas, both English and American; concluding
with that of Dr. E. K. Kane."  Edited with large additions by Samuel
M. Smucker, New York. MOler, Orton & Co., 1857. pp. 517, 12mo.
— 38
I 4
when the public interest became painfully excited
on the subject Accordingly, in 1848 the British
Government despatched Sir James Ross, in command
of the "Enterprise" and "Investigator," in search
of the absent wanderers. During successive years fifteen different expeditions were sent forth from England, for both the purpose of rescuing those who
might yet survive of Franklin's associates, and to
obtain some intimation or revelation of their ultimate fate. The interest felt in the subject was not
confined to the native land of the unfortunate explorers ; but it extended also to other countries. On
such an occasion the United States would naturally
sympathize more deeply with the perils of the gallant
sufferers than most other countries; and hence that
first American expedition in search of Sir John
Franklin, with which the destiny of Dr. Kane became subsequently identified, was planned by the
American Government and executed under its auspices. Dr. Kane, true to the impulses of his nature,
requested permission of the United States Government to join that expedition; and his request was
readily complied with. CHAPTER IV.
It was on the 12th of May, 1850, while cruising
in the Gulf of Mexico, that Dr. Kane received a
telegraphic despatch from the seat of the Federal
Government, ordering him to proceed immediately
lo New York and join the Arctic Expedition which
was about to sail thence, under the command of
Lieut. E. J. De Haven, in. search of Sir John
Franklin. He reached New York after a rapid
journey of seven days and a hal£ and immediately
provided himself with the most essential implements of scientific observation, and the chief ingredients of an Arctic wardrobe. He also procured a
few select and favorite volumes as companions of
his studious solitude during the long, dark, monotonous hours of his wintry exile.
Two small brigs, named the "Advance" and the
"Rescue," had been appropriated by the Government to the uses of this expedition. Both vessels
together amounted only to two hundred and thirty- apm-gTwt.iuM* a.casaw
five tons' burden. Notwithstanding their diminu
tive size, they were admirably adapted to the pur
poses, the vicissitudes, and the hardships of a cruise
in the Polar clime; for they had been constructed
with special reference to an extreme power of resistance. Their hulls may be said to have been double,
and were inwardly braced and clamped witii masses
of strong timber, which diverged and crossed each
other in various directions throughout their interiors. The liberality of Mr. Grinnell, of New York,
had also been exhibited in the lavish manner in
which the appointments and equipments of the
expedition had been furnished.
The crews of the two brigs were man-of-war's
men, who had been selected with special reference
to their familiarity with the most difficult and laborious branches of the service; and they numbered,
with the officers, thirty-three men. Dr. Kane held
the post of passed assistant surgeon in the Advance.
On the 22d of May the vessels sailed from the port
of New York, and glided down the placid waters
of that magnificent bay, hurried forward by the
vigorous and untiring power of a steam-tug. Soon
the crowded edifices, and lofty turrets of the metropolis faded from their receding view; and by
the time the shadows of Evening descended, upon
the diversified scene of rolling billow and verdant ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
landscape, they reached Sandy Hook, and tokens of
a gathering storm overclouded the heavens.
On the 7th of June the Advance^reached Newfoundland. Here the adventurers obtained their
first view of an iceberg. A vast mass, " twice the
size of Girard College," of the purest white, loomed
up before their vision, and came sailing slowly and
majestically downward from the interior realms of
that frozen and awful zone which they were themselves approaching. After this period the novelty of
these colossal masses gradually wore away, and they
became quite familiar, but not always quite harmless, though generally very grand and impressive.
On the 20th the Advance made the coast near the
towering peak called Sukkertoppen, which is one of
the great landmarks of that rugged region. Thence
they proceeded to the Crown Prince Islands, which
had been appointed as the place where the Rescue
should again join the Advance* This spot is a
small settlement inhabited by Esquimaux, who
acknowledge the supremacy of Denmark. The
Danes use it as a fishing-station; and all the inhabitants depend for their subsistence entirely upon the
precarious produce of their nets.
On the 27th Dr. Kane was sent by the com?
ihander, with a crew of five men, to the settlement
of Lievely, for the purpose of obtaining information
il 42
and purchasing an additional stock of furs. This
place is the residence of the Danish Inspector of
Northern Greenland, and possesses one comfortable
residence. Dr. Kane succeeded in securing a
supply of seal-skins, which were afterward of great
and even of essential service to the members of the
expedition. He and his crew then returned to the
Advance, and on the 29th the two brigs resumed
their voyage, doubled the southwest cape of Disco,
and steered directly for the Pole. On the 3d of
July the vessels passed a lofty headland, called from
its appearance Black Head, in the neighborhood
of which the crews celebrated, on the ensuing day,
the national anniversary; but their solitary position
and the limited nature of their supplies made their
observance of it devoid of special interest. On the
6th they approached Upernavik, the last settlement
of Esquimaux to be found in those Northern realms.
They still sailed onward without serious obstruction, though frequently surrounded by floating icebergs, until the 8th, when, at dawn of day, they
found themselves wedged fast in an immense sheet
of snow-covered ice. The vessels bore the singular
appearance of being locked in the centre of a dreary
and frozen ocean.
During   twenty-one   days   the   brigs   remained
imprisoned in the ice, unable to move in any direo* ELISHA  KENT  gANE.
tion except in a small circle six miles in extent.
Innumerable efforts were made to warp and work
their way through the ice, but generally to little
purpose. They were embedded in what is known
as the Middle Pack of Melville Bay. Sometimes,
during the progress of a day, they advanced half a
ship's length. New ice was constantly forming in
the little pools in which the vessels lay. And this
occurred in July, beneath a midsummer's sun! On
the 28th of the month the wind shifted to the eastward, the floes opened wider, water became visible
to the north and east, and the men cast off7 and
commenced to bore the ice. The sea was now
covered with immense fragments of broken ice,
which dashed and surged around them, grinding
fiercely against each other and sometimes against the
helpless vessels tossing in their midst. They sailed
along- with their topsail-yard on the cap. A gale
blew, and they ran a perilous race before it. On
the 29th they left the pack, and in two days they
had made forty miles in spite of the perils of the
rolling icebergs and the turbulent sea.
On the 2d of August the vessels reached the coast
between Allison's and Duneira Bays, north of 75°.
Here they caught a glimpse of the shores of Greenland. It was covered with immense glaciers, which,
even at the distance of eighteen miles, presented a
— 44
sublime and imposing appearance. The extent of
coast thus seen at a single view was about forty
miles, and its uneven heights frequently towered
aspirin gly against the wintry heavens to the distance
of nine hundred feet. Its edges, where they met
the sea, were abrupt and lofty precipices, by whose
base vast icebergs were slowly and grandly sailing,
some of which were three or four hundred feet
in height. Dr. Kane counted two hundred and
eight of these, of various sizes, within the horizon
at a single time* The altitude of the icebergs of
Baffin's Bay exceeds that of all others. Forster
computes the greatest altitude of Antarctic ice at a
hundred feet and upward. Graah observed none
iigher on the eastern coast of Greenland than a
hundred and twenty feet. Scoresby computes those
in the Spitzbergen Sea at two hundred feet. But
Sir John Ross gives the accurate measurement of
one in Baffin's Bay at three hundred and twenty-
five feet in height and twelve hundred in length.
The multiform appearances and the sublime effect of
these colossal products of Polar cold and Polar seas
it would be impossible for language to depict.
Many of these icebergs are covered with detritus,
or debris of rock, earth, and sand. Dr. Kane obtained some specimens of rock from one which had
thawed down to the water's edge.   They were com-
posed of quartz, gneiss, syenite, and others,' all belonging to the primary series. These rocks had
been thus exposed to view from the change which
had taken place in the equilibrium of the berg, thus
placing that portion of it which had been formerly
near its base in a more elevated position. The
forms and shapes of these Polar icebergs are innumerable, and sometihies most fantastic. Often their
coloring is beautiful in the extreme, when the rays
of the sun impinge upon, and are refracted at certain
angles from, their diversified and irregular surfaces.
Now and then the tedious monotony of the cruise
was relieved by a thrilling adventure with the Polar
bears. On the 7th of August an incident of this
description occurred. In the morning a bear was
seen approaching the Rescue, attracted by curiosity
to inspect more closely the bold strangers who had
thus invaded the solitudes of his own inhospitable
clime. When first discovered he was swimming
toward the vessel, breaking the newly-formed ice
with his fore-paws. He then made successive dives,
coming up each time between the cavities in the
ice.   As he first rose from these immersions, he
panted and shook his head to free it from the water.
A boat advanced from the vessel to meet him.
Captain Griffin was the first who saluted him with
a bullet, which lodged under his left shoulder, but I1
produced no effect Several other balls struck him
before he seemed to become aware of the dangerous
nature of his new acquaintances. He then turned
to escape. Another shot severed the lumbar vertebrae; when the poor beast continued to drag his
paralyzed extremities after him. His pursuers soon
came upon him, and he was quickly dispatched
with a bayonet. Three days afterward another
Hunt on a larger scale took place. Three bears were
seen deliberately perambulating the ice on the left,
and three others were observed on the land-ice in
the opposite direction. One of these parties approached the vessels and soon came boldly within
shot. Their curiosity and their rashness cost one
of them dearly, for he was killed by a bullet lodged
in his brain; but while the men were securing him,
the rest profited by the interval to make good
their escape. Shortly after this interesting and victorious episode, both vessels came very near suffering an equally disastrous fate, by being crushed between the seaward ice and the land-floe; the former
of which, with a momentum of several millions of
tons, came floating down and rested upon the latter
at the speed of a knot an hour, having the two vessels between them. Fortunately both vessels rose
upon the advancing ice and were saved, after having
unshipped their rudders. CHAPTER V. I
The Advance and Rescue still pursued their slow
and tedious progress northward, and reached Capes
York and Dudley Diggs. Here the most attractive
incident consisted in shooting the Arctic birds termed
auks, which nestled and breeded in countless numbers on the beetling crags. Here Dr. Kane's usual
intrepidity and desire of discovery led him into a
position of great peril. He climbed up the rugged
heights of the shore, where one of the most populous
colonies was located. The angle of deposit was about
fifty degrees. By the use of a walking-pole he
ascended from one crag to another, the fragments
of rock and earth receding under his feet and rolling far down to the plain below. His descent was
more dangerous even than his ascent. His walking-
pole was whirled from his grasp by the falling fragments. He succeeded at last in reaching a projecting
point of feldspar. Against this point the descending earth and stones struck, and divided into two
currents.     With much difficulty and danger Dr. 48
II $ I
• i   ■:
II f
Kane pursued his return to the surface of the level
earth and made his way to the vessel.
On the 19th of August the expedition had cleared
the limits of Baffin's Bay. On the same day they
discovered two vessels sailing in their wake, which
proved to be the squadron of Captain Penny, sent
out by the British Government in pursuit of Sir
John Franklin. A hearty welcome and exchange
of news ensued between the ships. When off
Admiralty Inlet, they also met that heroic veteran
of Arctic discovery and adventure, Sir John Ross,
also cruising in a small vessel in search of his
lost friend and ancient comrade. On the 25th the
American squadron continued their way and reached
Cape Riley. Here they discovered two cairns upon
the shore, which Dr. Kane inspected with great
care; and he came to the conclusion that they were
actual traces of Sir John Franklin's party. This
was, indeed, no new discovery, for others had seen
and examined these cairns before. But Dr. Kane's
reasoning, whereby they are supposed to have been
memorials of the lost navigators, is both original
and convincing. He contended that their appearance
and structure prove that they could not be of Esquimaux origin; that the only European who could
have erected them or had visited Cape Riley was
Captain Parry; that his journal establishes the fact ELISHA  SENT KANE.
that he had not encamped there; and that Captain Ommaney's discovery of similar vestiges on
Beechey Island shows that these cairns lie on the
direct track of a party moving between it and the
channel. These considerations, which Dr. Kane
argues and develops at length in his journal, clearly
justify the inference that these were evident traces
of the lost navigator.
On the 27th inst. the officers of the American
and English squadrons were destined to meet a rich
reward of their toils, and to dis/cover the most
important as well as the most interesting memorials
of Sir John Franklin which have ever been obtained.
Captain Penny's party had first observed them, and
news was immediately sent to Lieut. De Haven of the
propitious event. The latter, accompanied by Dr.
Kane and Commander Phillips of the English
squadron, immediately proceeded from the Advance,
over the ice, to the frozen shore of Beechey Island;
and there they found the objects referred to itt the
information whifch they had received. They consisted of a piece of canvas,- with the name, of one of
Sir J. Franklin's ships, the "Terror," inscribed
upon it; a guide-board lying on the ground, having
been prostrated by the wind; a large number of
tin canisters, which had contained preserved meats;
an anvil-block;  a tub;  an unfinished rope-mat^
D 5 50
and various patches of clothing. But the most
remarkable mementos of all were three graves, side
by side, of that gallant band who had perished amid
those Arctic solitudes and had there been laid to
rest. These graves were simple and neat in their
appearance, such as British sailors generally construct
over the bodies of their unfortunate messmates in
every quarter of the globe, whether they expire in
the frozen zones of the North, the coral-girded isles
of the South, the verdant and spicy climes of the
East, or the gold-burdened lands of the West. They
were graves which reminded the observer of some
quiet rural churchyard in England or in our own
country, where the departed sleep beneath the very
eaves of the humble sanctuary, surrounded by the
green turf, the waving grass, and the blooming rose,
with which the hand of affection, or the unaided
JEruitftdness of nature, has embellished them. One
of the graves was especially suggestive of mournful
thoughts. Its inscription ran thus: " Sacred to the
memory of John Hartwell, A.B., of H. M. S. Erebus, aged twenty-three years." Here was a youth
who had been reared amid the classic shades and
the. ennobling influences of one of England's great
Universities,—either a Cantab or an Oxonian; and
it had been his strange and melancholy fate to terminate his brief career in this inhospitable realm, ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
and lay his form to take its last, long slumber in
that lonely and cheerless solitude, far distant from
all that was connected with the hopes arid joys of
his youthful prime, and from the tender and loving
hearts which were most deeply interested in his
happiness and fate.
Dr. Kan6 and his companions found other traces
about four hundred yards farther on. Shavings of
wood were strewed around, a series of mounds, portions of a stocking and glove, and even the remnant of a garden. At some distance they found
a deposit of more than six hundred preserved-meat
cans, while minor indications of the former presence
of the party were numerous. But still there was no
written intimation anywhere discovered of date, of
purpose, or of the condition and experience of the
party. This is singular, as it was the uniform
custom of Arctic explorers to leave memorials of
that description at every spot where they had found
a permanent resting-place. All these indications
proved, as Dr. Kane clearly establishes in his narrative of this expedition, that Sir John Franklin
and his party wintered here in 1845-46; that the
squadron had been occupied during the winter in
the various organized expeditions of discovery
which are generally sent out from the main station;
that Sir John Franklin had undertaken and perhaps PI!
; P 1
executed a systematic and thorough reconnoissance
of Wellington Channel; and that until that date the
health of his crews had been good, only three being
known to have died out of a hundred and thirty.
During the sojourn of these vessels at Beechey
Island, Dr. Kane visited the English ship Resolute;
and he narrates that, when he observed how far
superior the organization and preparation of that
vessel to confront Arctic rigors were to those of the
American squadron, he felt a sensation of despondency. Says he: "In comparison with them we have
nothing, absolutely nothing." Yet it does not
appear that this insufficiency of means and aids rendered the American explorers less resolute or less
successful than their more favored competitors.
By the 7th of September the expedition reached
Barlow's Inlet. On the 9th they passed Cape
Hotham, and soon entered Lancaster Sound. On
the 10th a singular incident occurred; for, as if by
a favorable accident, all the squadrons then cruising
in the Arctic regions in search of Sir J. Franklin met
without concert opposite Griffith's Island,—consisting of the Resolute, Intrepid, Assistance, Pioneer,
Lady Franklin, Sophia, Advance, and Rescue.
These squadrons were commanded respectively by
Austin, Ommaney, Penny, and De Haven. But
they quickly separated to very different destinations. ELISHA KENT  KANE.
This incident—the assembling together in that
distant and inhospitable realm of vessels from dift
ferent nations in pursuit of the same benevolent
and noble aim, the recovery of the lost—is in
itself sublimely beautiful, and marks a grand epoch
in the progress of humanity in modern times*
Often have the gallant ships of England and the
United States met before upon the rolling deep;
but those encounters have been for the purpose of
hurlmg carnage and death against each other.
Armed men have often arrayed themselves there
with implacable fury in their hearts; and the broad
bosom of the ocean has been covered with the floating wrecks of splendid vessels, and with the bruised
and struggling forms of dying and drowning warriors. The thunder of battle has often resounded in
the mighty caverns of the deep, and the flash of
artillery has illumed the heavens, and reddened
the vast horizon with its lurid and portentous
splendor. The combatants have then separated
after the awful conflict was ended, exulting in the
misery they have inflicted, in the widows and
orphans whose hearts they have lacerated, in the
fiendish ferocity and malignity. which they have
But how different and how much nobler were the
spirit and purpose of this meeting of English and
Jr I
American seamen! They met in the spirit of
charity, generosity, and heroic endurance for the
alleviation of the misfortunes of others. A common sentiment of humanity attracted those expeditions to that repulsive spot from far distant countries; and the sight of each other was the signal for
the expression of the most friendly sentiments and
for the mutual performance of the kindest offices.
This event possesses an honorable significance and
import, which weaves a wreath of fadeless glory,
more noble than the proudest trophies of victorious
battle, around the brows of those who were the
actors in it; and the fairest and freshest flowerets of
that wreath belong to our own gallant seamen, who
thus labored to rescue those who were not their
brethren, but the children of a foreign, and too
frequently a hostile clime, from a most cruel and
horrible fate.
The American expedition with which Dr. Kane
was connected was destined to pass through a full
probation of all the extremes of Arctic life, during
the long, dark, dreary solitude of a Polar winter. It
would be impossible to convey to the reader a more
correct idea of the incidents which marked the experience of the subject of this memoir during the winter of 1851 than by quoting an extract from the official
narrative of the commander of the expedition, which
describes the scenes of which they both acted and
experienced a part, with that greater accuracy which
personal observation always gives over any statement which may be elaborated by another differently
"On the morning of the 13th Sept. 1850, the
wind having moderated sufficiently, we got under
way, and, working our way through some streams
of ice, arrived in a few hours at Griffith's Island,
under the lee of which we found our consort made
fast to the shore, where she had taken shelter in the
55 -
I  >
gale, her crew having suffered a good deal from the
inclemency of the weather. In bringing to, under the
lee of the island, she had the misfortune to spring
her rudder, so that on joining us it was with much
difficulty she could steer. To. insure her safety and
more rapid progress, she was taken in tow by the
Advance, when she bore up with a fine breeze from
the westward.. Off Cape Martyr we left the English
squadron under Captain Austin. About ten miles
farther to the east, the two vessels under Captain
Penny, and that under Sir John Ross, were seen
secured near the land. At 8 p.m. we had advanced
as far as Cape Hotham. Thence, as far as the increasing darkness of the night enabled us to see,
there was nothing to obstruct our progress, except
the bay ice. This, with a good breeze, would not
have impeded us much; but unfortunately the wind,
when it was most required, foiled us. The snow,
with which the surface of the water was covered,
rapidly cemented, and formed a tenacious coat,
through which it was impossible with all our appliances to force the vessels. At 8 p.m. they came to
a dead stand, some ten miles to the east of Barlow's
" The following day the wind hauled to the southward, from which quarter it lasted till the 19th.
During this period the young ice was broken, its ELISHA KENT  KANE.
edges squeezed up like hummocks, and one floe
overrun by another until it all assumed the appearance of heavy ice. The vessels received some heavy
nips from it; but they withstood them without injury. Whenever a pool of water made its appearance, every effort was made to reach it, in hopes
that it would lead us into Beechey Island, or some
other place where the vessels might be placed
in security; for the winter set in unusually early,
and the severity with which it commenced forbade
all hopes of our being able to return this season. I
now became anxious to attain a point in the neigh-,
borhood from whence, by means of land-parties in
the spring, a goodly extent of Wellington Channel
might be examined.
"In the mean time, under the influence; of the
south wind, we were being set up the channel. On
the 18th we were above Cape Bowden, the most
northern point seen on this shore by Parry. The
land on both shores was seen much farther, and
trended considerably to the west of north. To
account for this drift, the fixed ice of Wellington
Channel, which we had observed in passing to the
westward, must have been broken up and driven to
the southward by the heavy gale of the 12th. On
the 19th the wind veered to the north, which gave
us a southerly set, forcing umatthe same time with rmm
the western shore. This did not last long; for the
next day the wind hauled again to the south and
blew fresh, bringing the ice in upon us with much
pressure. At midnight it broke up all around us,
so that we had work to maintain the Advance in a
safe position and keep her from being separated
from her consort, which was immovably fixed in thtf
centre of a large floe.
"We continued to drift slowly to the N.N.W.
until the 22d, when our progress appeared to4be
arrested by a small low island, which was discovered
in that direction, about seven miles distant. A
channel of three or four miles in width separated it
from Cornwallis Island. This latter island, trending
N.W. from our position, terminated abruptly in an
elevated cape, to which I have given the name of
Manning, after a warm personal friend and ardent
supporter of the Expedition. Between Cornwallis
Island and some distant high land visible in the
north appeared a wide channel leading to the westward. A dark, misty-looking cloud which hung
over it (technically termed, frost-smoke) was indicative of much open water in that direction. This
was the direction in which my instructions, referring
to the investigations of the National Observatory
concerning the winds and currents of the ocean,
directed me to look for open water.   Nor was the ELISHA  KENT   KANE.
open water the only indication that presented itself
in confirmation of this theoretical conjecture as to a
milder climate in that direction.- As we entered
Wellington Channel the signs of animal life became
more abundant; and Captain Penny, commander of
one of the English expeditions, who afterward penetrated on sledges much toward the region of the
* frost-smoke,' much farther than it was possible for
us to do in our vessels, reported that he actually
arrived on the borders of this open sea.
"Thus, these admirably drawn instructions, deriving arguments from the enlarged and comprehensive system of physical research, not only pointed
with emphasis to an unknown sea into which Franklin had probably found his way, but directed me to
search for traces of his expedition in the very channel at the entrance of which it is now ascertained
he had passed his first winter. The direction in
which search with most chances of success is now
to be made for the missing expedition, or for traces
of it, is no doubt in the direction which is so
clearly pointed out in my instructions. To the
channel which appeared to lead into the open sea
over which the cloud of * frost-smoke' hung as a
sign, I have given the name of Maury, after the
distinguished gentleman at the head of our National
Observatory, whose theory with regard to an open n1
sea to the north is likely to be realized through this
channel. To the large mass of land visible between
N.W. to N.N.E. I gave the name of Grinnell, in
honor of the head and heart of the man in whose
philanthropic mind originated the idea of this expedition, and to whose munificence it owes its existence.
" To a remarkable peak bearing N.N.E. from us,
distant about forty miles, was given the name of
Mount Frankiin. An inlet or harbor immediately
to the north of Cape Bowden was discovered by Mr.
Griffin in Ms land-excursion from Point Innes, on
the 27th of August, and has received the name of
Griffin Inlet. The small island mentioned before
was called Murdaugh's Island, after the acting master of the Advance. The eastern shore of Wellington Channel appeared to run parallel with the western, but it became quite low, and, being covered
with snow, could not be distinguished with certainty,
so that its continuity with the high land to the north
was not ascertained. Some small pools of open
water appearing near us, an attempt was made
about fifty yards, but all our combined efforts were
of no avail in extricating the Rescue from her icy
cradle. A change of wind not only closed the ice
up again, but threatened to give a severe nip. We
unshipped her rudder and placed it out of harm's way. ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
"September 22d was an uncomfortable day. The
wind was from N.E. with snow. From an early
hour in the morning, the floes began to be pressed
together with so much force that their edge was
thrown up in immense ridges of rugged hummocks.
The Advance was heavily nipped between two floes,
and the ice was piled up so high above the rail on
the starboard side as to threaten to come on board
and sink us with its weight. All hands were occupied in keeping it out. The pressure and commotion did not cease till near midnight, when we
were very glad to have a respite from our labors
and fears. The next day we were threatened with
a similar scene, but it fortunately ceased in a short
time. For the remainder of September, and until
the 4th of October, the vessels drifted but little.
The winds were very light, the thermometer fell to
minus 12, and ice formed over the pools in sight
sufficiently strong to travel upon. We were now
strongly impressed wifti the belief that the ice had
become fixed for the winter, and that we should be
able to send out travelling parties from the advanced
position for the examination of the lands to the
northward. Stimulated by this fair prospect, another
attempt was made to reach the shore in order to
establish a depfit of provisions at or near Cape
Manning, which would materially facilitate the pro-
6 62
gress v .f our parties in the spring; but the ice was
still found to be detached from the shore, and a
narrow lane of water cut us from it.
"During the interval of comparative quiet, preliminary measures were taken for heating the Advance
and increasing her quarters so as to accommodate
the officers and crews of both vessels. No stoves
had as yet been used in either vessel: indeed, they
could not well be put up without placing a large
quantity of stores and fuel upon the ice. The attempt was made to do this; but a sudden crack in
the floe where it appeared strongest, causing the
loss of several tons of coal, convinced us that it was
not yet safe to do so. It was not until the 20th of
October we got fires below. Ten days later the
housing-cloth was put over, and the officers and
crew of the Rescue ordered on board the.Advance
for the winter. Room was found on the deck of the
Rescue for many of the provisions removed from
the hold of this vessel. Still, a large quantity had
to be placed on the ice. The absence of fire below
had caused much discomfort to all hands ever since
the beginning of September, not so much from the
low temperature as from the accumulation of
moisture by condensation, which congealed as the
temperature decreased, and covered the wood-work
of our apartments with ice.  This state of things soon ELISHA KENT  KANE.
began to woik its effect upon the health of the
crews. Several cases of scurvy appeared among
them, and, notwithstanding the indefatigable attention and active treatment resorted to by the
medical officers, it could not be eradicated: its progress, however, was checked.
"December 7th, at 8 a.m., the crack in which we
were had opened and formed a lane of water fifty-
six feet wide, communicating ahead at the distance
of sixty feet with ice of about one foot in thickness,
which had formed since the 3d. The vessel was
secured to the largest floe near us, (that oh which
our spare stores were deposited.) At noon the ice
was again in motion, and began to close, affording
us the pleasant prospect of an inevitable nip between
two floes of the heaviest kind. In a short time the
, prominent points took our side, on the starboard,
just about the main-rigging, and on the port under
the counter and at the fore-rigging; thus bringing
three points of pressure in such a position that it
must have proved fatal to a larger or less strengthened
vessel. The Advance, however, stood it bravely.
After trembling and groaning in every joint, the ice
passed under and raised her about two and a half
feet. She was let down again for a moment, and
then her stern was raised about five feet. Her bows,
being unsupported, were depressed almost as much.
-/ II
In this uncomfortable position we remained. The
wind blew a gale from the eastward, and the ice
all around was in dreadful commotion, excepting,
fortunately, that in immediate contact with us. The
commotion in the ice continued all through the
night; and we were in momentary expectation of
the destruction of both vessels. The easterly gale
had set us some two or three miles to the west. As
soon as it was light enough to see on the 9th, it was
discovered that the heavy ice on which the Rescue
had been imbedded for so long a time was entirely
broken up and piled up around her in massive
hummocks. On her pumps being sounded, I was
gratified to learn that she remained tight, notwithstanding the immense straining and pressure she
must have endured.
"During this period of trial, as well as in all former
and subsequent ones) I could not avoid" being struck
with the calmness and decision of the officers, as
well as the subordination and good conduct of the
men, without an exception* Each one knew the
imminence of the peril that surrounded us, and was
prepared to abide it with a stout heart. There was
no noise, no confusion. I did not detect, even in
the moment when the destruction of the vessel
seemed inevitable, a single desponding look among
the whole crew; on the contrary, each one seemed ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
resolved to do his whole duty, and every thing Went
• on eheeiily and bravely. For my own part, I had
become quite an invalid, so much so as to prevent
my taking an active part in the duties of the vessel
as I had always done, or even from incurring the
exposure necessary to proper exercise. However,
I felt no itpprehensions that the vessel would not be
properly taken care of, for I had perfect confidence
in one and all by whom I was surrounded. I knew
them to be equal to any emergency; but I felt under
special obligations to the gallant commander of the
Rescue for the efficient aid he rendered me. With
the kindest consideration and the most cheerful
alacrity, he volunteered to perform the executive
duties during the winter and relieve me from every
thing that might tend in the least to retard my recovery.
"During the remainder of December the ice remained quiet immediately around us, and breaks
were all strongly cemented by new ice. In our
neighborhood, however, cracks were daily visible.
Our drift to the eastward averaged nearly six miles
per day; so that on the last of the month we were
at the entrance of the Sound, Cape Osborn bearing
north from us.
"As the season advanced, the cases of scurvy became more numerous; yet they were all kept under
6* 66
control by the unwearied attention and skilful treatment of the medical officers. My thanks are due to
them, especially to Passed Assistant Surgeon Kane,
the senior medical officer of the expedition. I often
had occasion to consult him concerning the hygiene
of the crew; and it is in a great measure owing to
the advice which he gave and the expedients which
he recommended that the expedition was enabled
to return without the loss of one man. By the latter
end of February the ice had become sufficiently
thick to enable us to build a trench around the
stern of the Rescue sufficiently deep to ascertain
the extent of the injury she had received in the gale
at Griffith's Island. It was not found to be material*
the upper gudgeon alone had been wrenched from
the stern-post. It was adjusted, and the rudder
repaired in readiness for shipping when it should
be required. A new bowsprit was also made for her
out of the few spare spars we had left, and every
thing made seaworthy in both vessels before the
breaking up of the ice.
"In Ma/y the noonday began to take effect upon
the snow which covered the ice: the surface of tho
floes became watery, and difficult to walk over. Still,
the dissolution was so slow in comparison with the
mass to be dissolved, that it must have taken it a
long period to become liberated from this cause ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
alone. More was expected from our southerly drift,
'which still continued, and must soon carry us into
a milder climate and open sea. On the 19th of May
the land about £Jape Searle was made out, the
first that we had seen since passing Cape Walter
Bathurst, about the 20th of January. A few days
later we were off Cape Walsingham, and on the
27th passed out of the Arctiexzone.
" On the 1st of April a hole was cut in some ice
that had been forming since our first besetment in
September: it was found to have attained the thickness of seven feet two inches. In this month (April)
the amelioration of the temperature became quite
sensible. All hands were kept at work cutting and
sawiug the ice around the vessels, in order to allow
them to float once more. With the Rescue, they succeeded, after much labor, in attaining this object;
but around the stern of the Advance the ice was so
thick that our thirteen-feet saw was too short to pass
through it; her bows, and sides as far aft as the
gangway, were liberated. After making some alteration in the Rescue for the better accommodation of
her crew, and fires being lighted on board of her
several days previous, to remove the ice and dampness which had accumulated during the winter,
both officers and crew were transferred to her on
the 24th of April.    The stores of this vessel, which 68
had been taken out, were restored, the housing-cteth
taken off, and the vessel made in every respeet ready
for sea. There was little prospect, however, of our
being able to reach the desired element very soon.
The nearest water was a narrow lane more than two
miles distant. To cut through the ice which intervened would, have been next to impossible. Beyond
this lane, from the mast-head, nothing but inters
mediate floes could be seen. It was thought best to
wait with patience and allow nature to work for us.
"June 6th, a moderate breeze from S.E. with
pleasant weather, thermometer up to 40° at noon,
and altogether quite warm and melting day. During
the morning a peculiar cracking sound was heard
on the floe. I was inclined to impute it to the
settling of the snow-drifts as they were acted upon
by the sun; but in the afternoon, about five o'clock,
the puzzle was solved very lucidly, and to the exceeding satisfaction of all hands. A crack in the
floe took place between us and the Rescue, and in
a few minutes thereafter the whole immense field
in which we had been imbedded for so many months
was rent in all directions, leaving not a piece of one
hundred yards in diameter. The rupture was not accompanied with any noise. The Rescue was entirely
liberated, the Advance only partially. The ice, in
which her after-part was imbedded, still adhered to ELISnA  KENT KANE.
her from the main-chains aft, keeping her stern ele-
' vated in its unsightly position. The pack (as it may
now be called) became quite loose, and, but for our pertinacious friend acting as an immense drag upon us,
we might have made some headway in any desired
direction. All our efforts were now turned to getting
Md of it. With saws, axes, and crowbars, the people
went to work with a right good wijl, and after hard
labor for forty-eight hours succeeded. The vessel
was again afloat, and she righted. The joy of all
hands vented itself spontaneously in three hearty
cheers. The after-part of the false keel was gone,
being carried away by the ice. The loss of it, however, I was glad to perceive, did not materially
affect the sailing or working qualities of the vessel.
The rudders were shipped, and we were once more
ready to move, as efficient as on the day we left
New York.
" Steering to the S.E. and working slowly through
the loose but heavy pack, on*the 9th we parted from
the Rescue in a dense fog, she taking a different lead
from the one the Advance was pursuing."
The sudden resolution which had been adopted
by the commander of the expedition on the 13th of
the preceding September, to desert the exploring
British squadrons and return to the United States
re infecta, filled the crews of both of his vessels with 70
astonishment. Says Dr. Kane: "I believe there was
but one feeling among the officers of our little
squadron, that of unmitigated regret that we were
no longer to co-operate with our gallant associates
under the sister flag."* The expedition had in
reality accomplished nothing; and it was the consciousness of this fact which probably at that very
moment suggested to the energetic and resolute
mind of Dr. Kane the desirableness and necessity of
subsequently organizing another expedition, which
would thoroughly explore those remoter arcana of
the Arctic regions, which might be accessible to a
heroism and perseverance which were more indomitable and self-sacrificing, and were more adequate to the exigencies of the occasion.
On the 10th of May, aided by a propitious breeze
from the north, the squadron forced its way into
a clear and open sea, in latitude 65° 30', thirty
miles distant from the position in which it was eventually liberated from the embarrassment and perils
of the ice. On the 1st of July the vessels made
the Danish settlement of Proven. On the 8th they
reached Upernavik. They left Holsteinberg on the
6th of September, and on the 30th the Advance
entered the welcome port of New York; though
* See United States Grinnell Expedition, &c, by Dr. E. K. Kane,
published by Harper & Brothers, New York, p. 186.
the Rescue, having been separated from her consort
in a gale to the southward of Cape Farewell, did
not reach the termination of the voyage until the
7th of October, 1851.
Dr. Kane concluded his narrative of the "First
Grinnell Expedition" with expressing the hope that
he might obtain another opportunity to establish
the justice of his conviction, founded upon many
intelligent and conclusive reasons, that Sir John
Franklin could yet be found by further explorations
and researches. TMs expectation was destined to
be realized, as the renowned annals of the "Second
Grinnell Expedition" have since amply demonstrated.
I>r. Kane's chief employment, after his return from
his first Arctic expedition, was the preparation of a
record of his adventures fo£ the press. This work
was published in handsome style by the Harpers;
and although it is denominated by him merely a
"Personal Narrative," it is also interspersed and
enriched with many valuable details of a descriptive
and scientific character. It is a production of great
ability; superior, indeed, in a literary point of view,
to the narrative of his second expedition, because
the subject was then fresher, his own powers were
less exhausted, and his leisure to make researches
during the cruise was more ample, than when the
chief care and responsibility of an expedition rested if
upon him. His first work is probably the most
"systematic" and the most important which has
yet appeared in reference to Arctic exploration and
discovery. It evinces extensive and accurate scientific attainments, vigilant and intelligent observation, unwearied industry, intense interest in the
various aspects of the subject under examination;
while at the same time the style is polished, correct,
and attractive. This work will always remain the
most enduring and the most honorable memorial
of Dr. Kane's literary ability. The second narrative
will more clearly illustrate his merits as a practical
explorer and adventurer; and is the record of important results actually accomplished in furtherance
of the legitimate purposes of the expedition. CHAPTER VII.
This is no inappropriate place to introduce a
pleasing episode in the life of this resolute and
daring adventurer, which possesses a gentler aspect
and a more tender interest than that exhibited by
the other events of his life. It was not to be expected that Dr. Kane, notwithstanding his constant
bodily ailments and the absorbing nature of his
enterprises, should be insensible to the charms of
female beauty or intelligence. In this matter, as in
all others, he was quite original; and for a time at
least he acted quite independently. When the ladies
of the Fox family, the celebrated pioneers in " Spiritualism" in the United States, visited Philadelphia
for the first time, Dr. Kane was led by curiosity
to attend an exhibition of their powers. Margaret
Fox was the youngest of the three sisters; and her
rare and singular beauty at once attracted the attention, of Dr. Kane, and made a very deep impression upon his mind.   This young lady is described II 1
as being of medium stature, with regular features,
with large, expressive black eyes, and black hair, the
general effect of which was in a high degree pleasing and attractive. Having made the acquaintance
of the possessor of such potent charms, Dr. Kane
found her disposition to »be amiable, her manners
graceful, and her good sense pre-eminent. The
more intimate he grew with Margaret Fox the more
he became attached to her; nor did the inferiority
of her birth, the deficiencies of her education, nor
the repulsive notoriety to which her profession as a
medium had subjected her, diminish his admiration
for her in the least.
With his usual discernment and generosity, Dr.
Kane resolved to remedy the partial want of mental
culture which this fair girl exhibited, by sending
her to school, at his own expense. He took a great
interest in her improvement, consulted her teachers
in reference to her progress, and himself scrutinized
her studies and her attainments. It was generally
understood that when her education was completed
her benefactor and admirer intended to become her
husband. Thus matters stood when Dr. Kane sailed
on his first Arctic expedition. It is evident that at
that time Margaret Fox occupied a large share of
his thoughts, and that an absence of more' than
a year had not destroyed, or even diminished, his MM
tender sentiments toward her. And it would also
appear that the young lady was not unworthy of
the distinguished alliance which she anticipated;
and that she appreciated the admirable qualities of
her lover and her obligations to him. It is probable
that had they been united they would have had no
reason to regret it. Nevertheless, such a result was
not destined to occur. The causes which eventually
dissolved the intimacy between them are not known
with certainty. People do not proclaim these things
from the house-top through a trumpet. But the ill
health of Dr. Kane, the absorbing interest which he
took in accomplishing a second journey to the Arctic
regions, the engrossing literary labor necessary to
prepare the narrative of his first expedition for
the press, and the uncertainty of his future fate, are
most probably the reasons why his marriage with
the amiable and beautiful seeress was never consummated.
The interval which occurred between Dr. Kane's
return from his first Arctic journey and his second,
was an active one, although during the summer of
1853 his health became more than usually feeble.
He was then overworking himself in writing the
narrative of his first journey, and in endeavoring to
obtain the necessary permission and means for his
second.   A portion of the time was spent in leo- 11
turing in the Northern and Eastern cities on the subject of Arctic Exploration. The purpose of these
lectures was to obtain funds for his future movements.
He was also employed in discussing with the writers
of the British Admiralty the priority of the claim
of De Haven to the discovery of the Grinnell Land,
which Captain Austin was supposed to have first
discovered, and which had been named by him
"Albert Land." At the request of the Secretary
of the Navy, Dr. Kane prepared a labored argument
in support of the priority of discovery on the part
of De Haven, in which he clearly establishes the fact
that the American officer had first seen the same
projection of land which the British commander
afterward detected. This argument was inserted
by Dr. Kane in his published narrative of his first
expedition, and forms a valuable addition to that
excellent work.*
As time advanced and as difficulties increased,
the whole soul of Dr. Kane became centred on his
second expedition. He desired to obtain an appropriation from Congress, but after considerable effort
he found the obstacles to be insurmountable.   He
* See The United States Grinnell Expedition: A Personal Narrative, by E. K. Kane, M.D., U.S.N.: New York, Harper & Brother^
p. 200, et seq. ELISHA KENT KANE.
stated at length his plans, his resources, and the
extent of what was yet requisite and indispensable,
to John P. Kennedy, at that time Secretary of the
Navy, and succeeded in obtaining his approbation
and assistance. Additional help was derived from different sources; from Mr. Grinnell, Mr. Peabody, the
Smithsonian Institute, and others.* The doctor was
placed on special duty by Mr. Kennedy, in the Navy
Department; so that his projected voyage secured
the advantages which would result from an official
Government connection. Of the crew which subsequently sailed with him, ten were thus obtained
from the naval service. His greatest toils and his
severest disappointments, during this anxious and
laborious interval, were connected with his efforts
to obtain an appropriation from Congress. The
distinguished representatives of the nation listened
to his glowing appeals and his unanswerable arguments in reference to the importance, value, feasibi
lity, and glory of the proposed expedition, whereby,
as he confidently anticipated, the lost navigators
would be found, and the whole civilized world
would ring with acclamations and plaudits of Ame-
* See Arctic Explorations: The Second Grinnell Expedition in Search
of Sir John Franklin, ia 1863, '54, '55, by E. K. Kane. M.D., U.S.N.,
▼oL I pp. 16,16.
7* 78
rican heroism, valor, and philanthropy, which alone
had been able to deliver the lost navigators from
their icy prison: they listened, promised assistance^
turned away, and forgot all about it. The truth
probably was, that Dr. Kane would not and did not
deceive, bribe, feed, and liquor extensively enough
to engage the serious co-operation of the mercenary
and sensual legislators of the people ; and therefore
all his exertions in that quarter ended in total failure. The only result of his efforts at the seat of the
Federal Government was the acquisition of severa
thousand dollars' worth of materials for outfit from
the Medical Bureau at Washington. Nor can any
intelligent observer fail to appreciate the moral, as
well as the historical and personal, grandeur which
characterized the great object of Dr. Kane's intense
efforts,—the rescue of Sir John Franklin. Ten
years had elapsed since the last recorded date of his
destiny was known until the commencement of Dr.
Kane's second expedition; and yet he never doubted
for a moment that even then some of that lost company still survived. He based this conviction on
the fact that the expedition of Franklin had been
amply provided with every possible convenience
and means of support; that animal life can always
be sustained in the Arctic clime to some extent by
animal food procured by hunting; that the utmost ELISHA  KENT KANE.
extremes of cold need not destroy human existence
with the protection and succor which art and skilful
seamanship could afford; and that Sir John Franklin, was himself one of the ablest, most sagacious,
and most experienced of all the navigators who had
ever invaded the Arctic seas. In view of these considerations, Dr. Kane was enthusiastic on the subject
of his possible rescue; and even in his dreams, and
often in his waking hours, he seemed to hear the
feeble and melancholy moans of the imprisoned and
ice-bound wanderers, appealing to him, from far
across the frozen wastes, to hasten to their rescue
while life yet lingered within their shivering and
emaciated frames. Urged on by such inducements,
with which there was also confessedly mingled that
honorable ambition for distinction and eminence
which burns within every noble breast, and is one
of the chief mainsprings of whatever achievements
have ever promoted the glory and felicity of our
race, Dr. Kane completed all his arrangements, and
prepared to enter upon his second and last Arctie
expedition. »
dr. kane's second arctic expedition.
Dr. Kane received the official order from the
Hecretary of the Navy to conduct his second Arctie
expedition, in December, 1852. During several
months previous to this event he had been actively
engaged in planning a scheme^and in elaborating
details which might be successfully carried out in
the further and more thorough exploration of the
Polar zone. He condensed the results of his researches in an able lecture, which he delivered before
the American Geographical and Statistical Society
on the 14th of December, 1852, upon the "Access to
an Open Polar Sea in Conneetim wilh the Seareh after
Sir John Franklin and his Companions" This production is one of marked ability. It displays great
learning, research, and acuteness, and evinces an
unusual degree of familiarity with geographical and
meteorological science, with natural history and
philosophy. He assumed the position that there
was probably an unexplored extension of the land-
masses of Greenland toward the extreme north;
that Greenland was not a collection of islands connected together by interior glaciers, as was generally supposed, but a great peninsula stretching
northward, whose formation was governed by the
same laws which moulded other peninsulas having
a southern inclination and direction; and that upon
the remoter outskirts of that peninsula the traces of
the remains of the lost navigators were still most
probably to be found.
Dr. Kane based these conclusions upon the following satisfactory premises. The alternating altitudes
of the mountain-ranges of Greenland through an
extent of eleven hundred miles proved that Greenland must approach nearer to the Pole than any
other portion of the earth. This would enable the
explorer to travel on terra firma northward instead
of adventuring over the constant fields of frozen sea.
The fan4ike abutment of land already known to
exist on the north face of Greenland would check
the iee in the progress of its southern drift; thus
furnishing greater facilities for advancing toward
the Pole than was afforded by the Spitsbergen Sea,
as attempted by Parry. This route would also furnish
some additional means of subsistence from animal
life, and some aid and co-operation from the Esquimaux, who dwelt along the coast as far north as
Whale Sound. 82
The rules which Dr. Kane adopted for the control
of the expedition were comprehensive and peculiar.
They required absolute subordination to the commander or his delegate, abstinence from the use of
intoxicating drinks, and the habitual disuse of
profane language. The vessel placed under his
control was the Advance^ in which he had sailed on
the previous expedition, and which was furnished
by the Government, and by the munificence of
private friends, with the necessary equipments. His
crew consisted of seventeen persons. Henry Brooks
was the first officer, Dr. Isaac I. Hayes the surgeon,
Augustus Sontag the astronomer. The men of
chief mark among the crew were William Morton,
•Amos Bonsall, Christian Ohlsen, and James
Having made all the necessary preparations, Dr.
Kane sailed from the port of New York on the 30th
of May, 1853. In eighteen days he reached Newfoundland, and thence he boldly steered his adventurous craft for the coast of Greenland. On the 1st
of July he entered the obscure harbor of Fiskernaes,
where he and his officers became the guests of Mr
Lassen, the Danish governor. Here he procured a
large supply of fresh provisions, and added tin Esqui*
maux, named Hans, to tho number of his crew.
Sailing along the rugged coast of Lower and ELISHA  KENT KANE.
Middle Greenland, our explorer reached Wilcox
Point, in the extremity of Melville Bay, on the 27th
of July. He navigated safely through the floating
and drifting ice which, even in the middle of summer, already encumbered that bay; and passed the
Crimson Cliffs, thus fitly named by Sir John Ross,
on the 5th of August. On the 7th, leaving Cape
Alexander behind him, he entered Smith's Sound.
In pursuing his northward journey he made Force
Bay and Grinnell Cape. When off Godsend Ledge
a furious tempest arose, which shook the icy masses
and rolling mountains of that zone to their centre,
and lashed the half-frozen sea into tumultuous fury.
The Advance had been prudently attached to an
immense berg by thre^e hawsers; and, all things
being made snug on board the little brig, it was
hoped that she would safely outride the gale. But
so prodigious was the violence of the stonn that
the six-inch hawser in a short time snapped with a
loud twanging sound, which rose even above the
roaring of the wind. Soon a second report of a
similar nature followed, and the whale-line parted.
A ten-inch manilla yet remained, which seemed
to be their only protector against certain destruc-
tion. For a time it struggled nobly agai&st the
tremendous strain. The crew could hear its deep
melodious chant renewed from time to time as it Ill
i i;
j    V
resisted the mighty pressure, and held the vessel
with the grasp of an Atlas firmly to her icy moorings. In vain the whole power of ESlus seemed to
have been let loose from his resounding caverns
in order to overcome the strength of the line. But
the angry wind-god was destined at length to conquer. At first a single strand gave way, with a
loud report. Then followed a second, and a third;
until at last the line parted entirely, and the brig
drifted away, almost with the velocity of lightning,
with the rushing and tumultuous current of the ice?,
covered deep. The utmost skill was necessary to
save the vessel from instant ruin; and never was
better seamanship displayed than by that littje crew
and their gallant commander in that great peril. Their
efforts were successful. After passing safely through
many close shaves,—so close indeed that sometimes
it was necessary to take in the quarter-boat from its
davits,—'they reached a secure position under the
lee of a lofty berg, in an open and tranquil lead,
protected by its towering and colossal mass.
On the 23d of August Dr. Kane had reached 78°
41'; and in this position he was farther north than
any of his predecessors had been, except Captain
Parry on his celebrated Spitsbergen foot-journey.
His progress was now much impeded by the ice,
which was becoming more and more consolidated; ELISHA KENT  KANE.
«nd this difficulty led some of the boldest men of
the expedition to question the propriety of advancing
farther north until the ensuing spring, and led
them to think that the brig should be immediately
put into winter quarters in the position which she
then occupied. Dr. Kane at once called a formal
council and listened to their views. He then informed them that it was his purpose to secure a
position, if possible, which would be more favorable
for the sledge-journeys which he intended to send
out in different directions from the brig; and that
as soon as that position was attained he would put
the brig into winter quarters. The crew at once
acquiesced in the determination of the commander,
and proceeded to carry out his plan of operation.
The first sledge-journey in which the men of the
expedition engaged was made in the "Forlorn
Hope," for the purpose of exploring the adjacent
coast and ascertaining fhe best position for wintering. After laboriously travelling for five days they
were forty miles in a direct line from the brig;
although their circuitous route had been much
longer: yet, after a careful examination of every
accessible point, Dr. Kane came to the conclusion
that none of them offered as great advantages for
the purpose of wintering as the bay ill which he
had left the Advance.   He accordingly returned to 86
the brig and announced to the crew his determination not to remove the vessel. She was destined
never again to leave that spot; and there she probably remains to this day, buried among the accumulating and consolidated ice of that far-distant
and inhospitable zone.
Dr. Kane at once set his crew to work to prepare
the vessel for the winter, which was rapidly approaching. On the 10th of September the ice
around her had become so thick that it bore the
pressure of the men. The contents of the hold
were removed and deposited in the storehouse on
Butler Island. The provisions were so disposed of
as to render them more enduring and better preserved. A deck-house was constructed upon the
vessel, which increased her accommodations. The
site for an observatory was selected, and a commencement made for its construction. This was
placed on a rocky inlet situated about a hundred
yards from the brig. Dr. Kane named it Fern
Rock; and it was the scene of many of his labori-
ius scientific researches and experiments. Four
#alls of granite blocks were erected, cemented together by moss and water which became frozen.
Over these walls a substantial wooden roof was
laid. On pedestals made of conglomerated gravel
and ice, which were perfectly free from all vibra- ««■.
tion, the transit and theodolite were placed. A
magnetic observatory was built near at hand. It
was also constructed of stone, was ten feet square,
was furnished with a wooden floor and roof; and
here were collected the magnetometer and dip-instruments. The meteorological observatory was
situated a hundred and forty yards from the brig,
on the open ice-field. It was a wooden structure,
latticed and pierced with auger-holes on all sides.
The thermometers were here suspended. By the
20th of September all the preparations for winter
had been completed; and without any loss of time
Br. Kane sent forth his first dep6t-party, for the
purpose of depositing provisions at a suitable place
northward, to be used in his subsequent expeditions
of research and exploration. This company con-
sisted of seven men, led by McGary and Bonsall. BB3B5SS831
iffl if
The first dep6t-pirty sent out by Dr. Kane had
been absent twenty days, when he thought it proper,
and even necessary* to go in search of them, apprtk
bending that they might have met some seri6us
accident. He did so, accompanied by a single person, travelling on a sledge drawn by Newfoundland
dogs. During the progress of this trip he was once
precipitated with the dogs and sledge into the wateiy
having failed to cross a chasm in the ice of more
than usual width. Dr. Kane succeeded by great
exertions in rescuing his dogs and his companion
from a watery grave; but the danger of death to all of
them was imminent. The party made twenty miles
a day, sleeping at night on the solid ice-fields. At
length, on the 15th, Dr. Kane perceived in the
distance a mysterious object moving slowly on the
ice. It eventually proved to be the returning depfit-
party. They had been absent from the brig twenty-
eight days, had averaged eighteen miles of travel
per day, and had constructed the depSts of provi*
sions in accordance with the orders which they had
received before starting. During their journey the
party had met with some singular adventures. On
one occasion j at midnight, while encamped on the
frozen ice-field, the ice suddenly cracked directly
beneath them; a large fissure opened; the ice around
them gradually broke into fragments; and it was
only fey rapidly taking possession of one of the largest
pieces and rowing with it to the main ice that they
escaped destruction. They ultimately reached latitude 79° 50'. During their progress they buried
eight hundred pounds of provisions, for the future
use of the expedition. They then returned to the brig.
The rigors of an Arctic winter now increased
around them. It required the utmost prudence on
the part of the adventurers to enable them to endure
the intense cold. Notwithstanding all this, Dr. Kane
continued his astronomical and scientific experiments in his observatories; and their results were
afterward appended to the published journal of the
expedition. ^Sometimes the thermometer stood at
seventy-five degrees belo# zero in the external air.
At this prodigiously cold temperature chloric ether
became solid, and chloroform displayed a granular
pelHole on its surface. Human nature could scarcely
endure a greater intensity of cold than this.
Unbroken darkness now prevailed throughout the
8* ■snm
day and night. The first glimpses of returning
light were not seen until the 21st of January. The
period for active labors again approached. On the
19th of March, all the necessary preparations having
been completed, the first sledge-party was sent out
to prepare the way for future explorations. They
had been absent for some days, pursuing theif
perilous journey northward, when suddenly Dr.
Kane, who remained in the vessel, was surprised by
the return of a portion of the party; who, nearly
overcome by the intense cold, had left their comrades in a perilous condition forty miles distant from
the brig, lying almost frozen to death upon the ice.
There was not a moment to be lost. Dr. Kane
immediately went to work to collect the means of
immediate relief, and started out in search of the
wanderers with a party of nine men. The thermometer stood at seventy-eight degrees below the
freezing-point. The prodigious intensity of the cold
overcame with trembling fits and with shortness of
breath the strongest and stoutest of the party. For
eighteen hours they travelled without water or food.
The least application of snow to the mouth instantly
produced a flow of blood, as if it had been touched
by caustic. After a continuous march of twenty-
one hours, the relief-party reached the tent of 4be
four absent men.   They were found lying on their ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
backs upon the ice within it, in complete darkness,
and calmly awaiting the approach of relief or death.
After a short delay the return-march to the brig was
commenced. The disabled men were carried on a
sledge. During six hours the men pulled away
vigorously. At length the cold gradually overcame
them, and they halted. They were all so weakened
and benumbed as to be unable to strike a fire. The
whiskey froze in its can as hard as granite. That
dreamy lethargic state which is always a fearful
precursor of approaching death gradually began to
steal over them. They all wished to stop and be
permitted to sleep. Had they then slept, they had
assuredly known no waking. Not all the ominous
knocking which resounded through the halls of the
aspiring Macbeth while the royal Duncan lay murdered upon his couch,
" His silver skin laced with his golden blood,"
could have aroused them to life again. Dr. Kane
therefore gave peremptory orders to proceed. Man-
lally they labored to obey; and the commander himself led the way, with the intention of reaching the
half-way tent and preparing it for the reception of
the party. He was there able to melt water and
prepare some soup for them on their arrival. Dr.
Kane's beard on this occasion was frozen fast to his ■
buffalo-skin, and could only be released by cutting
it. At last, after a perilous march of many houn^i
the whole party reached the brig alive; but some
of the men had become delirious, some suffered
from strabismus and blindness, two were afterward
compelled to undergo amputation of the toes, and
two others eventually died, in consequence of their
terrible exposure. Very few adventures connected
with the whole range of Arctic exploration surpass
the experiences of this remarkable expedition; or
exhibit a greater power of physical endurance or
mental strength than were displayed by Dr. Kane
and some of his associates.
On the 25th of April another sledge-journey was
undertaken. The short season of travel in that
frozen zone would soon be terminated; and it was
necessary to make good use of the transient interval
that remained. This journey was intended to reach
the extreme limits of the shore of Greenland, and to
explore, if possible, the mysteries whieh lay beyond
the termination of the terra firrna. The line of travel
pursued was in accordance with this purpose. In
the progress of this expedition Dr. Kane, among
other interesting observations, discovered the Great
Humboldt Glacier. This proved to be one of the
most magnificent and sublime objects in nature. It
presents a shining wall of ice three hundred feet in ELISHA KENT KANE.
height, frowning over the frozen sea below, and extends its immense masses along an unbroken front
of sixty miles. It is the great crystal bridge which
has for ages connected together the two continents
of America and Greenland, and it recedes to the
interior from the sea through unknown and unmeasured limits. Vast crevasses appeared in the
sides of the glacier like mere wrinkles. These grew
larger as they descended to the sea, where they
expanded into gigantic stairways. The appearance
of this stupendous wonder of nature resembled in
some respects th*e frozen masses of the Alps, and reminded the bold adventurer of many scenes which
he had witnessed in the mountains of Switzerland.
The configuration of the surface and form of this,
glacier clearly indicate that its inequalities closely
follow those of the rocky soil on which it reposes.
On the 4th of June another party was sent out by
Dr. Kane, for the purpose of further exploration.
It was placed under the command of William Morton ; and it had been fortunate for Dr. Kane had he
accompanied it, inasmuch as it resulted in an extraordinary discovery, which possesses unequalled im*
portance and interest. His recent exposure and
exhausting labors with the previous party, however,
rendered it necessary that the commander should
recruit himself by remaining with the brig.
.'  ^ 94
On the I9th of June, having encamped, Morton
ascended a lofty berg, in order to examine their
future rotite and survey the surrounding desolation.
Prom this point he beheld an extensive plain which
stretched away toward the north, which proved to
be the Great Glacier of Humboldt, as it appeared
toward the interior, which also fronted on the bay.
From this point the advance of the party was perilous.
They were frequently arrested by wide and deep
fissures in the ice. This difficulty compelled them
to turn toward the west. Some of these chasms
were four feet wide and contained water at the
bottom. From this point they beheld the distant
northern shore, termed the "West Land." Its appearance was mountainous and rolling. Its distance
from them seemed to be about sixty miles.
At length, by the 21st of June, the party attained
a point opposite the termination of the Great Glacier.
It appeared to be mixed with earth and rocks.
Travelling on, they reached the head of Kennedy
Channel, and saw far beyond it the open water.
Passing in their route a cape, they called it Cape
Andrew Jackson. Here they found good smooth
ice; for during the last few days they had toiled
over rotten ice, which not unfrequently threatened
to break beneath them. Having entered the curve
of a bay, they named it after Robert Morris, the ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
great financier of the Revolution.* On the smooth
ice in this vicinity the party advanced at the rate of
six miles per hour.
Kennedy Channel here grew narrower, but afteiv
ward it widened again. Broken ice in large masses
was floating in it; but there were ^passages fifteen
miles in width, which remained perfectly clear. Six
miles inward from the channel, mountains rose to
the view. On the 22d of June they encamped, after
having travelled forty-eight miles in a direct line.
They were still upon the shores of the channel.
They could plainly see the opposite coast, which
appeared precipitous and surmounted with sugar-
loaf shaped mountains. At this part of their journey
they encountered a Polar bear, with her cub* A
desperate fight ensued, in which the singular instincts of nature were strikingly illustrated by the
desperate efforts made by the poor brute to protect
her helpless offspring. Both were slain. A shallow
bay covered with ice was then crossed. They passed
several islands which lay in the channel, which they
named after Sir John Franklin and Captain Crozier.
The cliffs which here constituted the shore of the
channel were very high, towering at least two thousand feet above its surface.   The party attempted to
* An intimate friend of one of the ancestors of Dr. Kane: vide
chapter first, of this wlnme. ELISHA  KENT KANB.
ascend these cliffs, but found it impossible to mount
more than a few hundred feet. On the highest point
which they attained a walking-pole was fastened,
with the Grinnell flag of the Antarctic attached to it;
and thus for an hour and a half this standard was
permitted to wave over the highest northern region
of the earth ever attained by the foot of man.
They here encountered a cape; and the party desired to pass around it, in order to ascertain whether
there lay any unknown land beyond. But they
found it impossible to advance. This, then, was the
utmost limit, the ultima thule of their journey toward
the Pole. Morton ascended an eminence here and
carefully scrutinized the aspects of nature around
him. Six degrees toward the west of north he observed a lofty peak, truncated in its form and about
three thousand feet in height. This elevation is
named Mount Edward Parry, after the great pioneer of Arctic adventure, and is the most extreme
northern point of^land known to exist upon the
globe. From the position which Morton had attained, he beheld toward the north, from an elevation
of four hundred feet, a boundless waste of waters
stretching away toward the Pole. Not a particle of
ice encumbered its surface. He now heard the multitudinous murmur of unfrozen waves, and beheld a
rolling surf, like that of more genial climes, rushing ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
and dashing against the rocks upon the shore. This
wAs certainly a mysterious phenomenon. Here was a
fluid sea in the midst of whole continents of ice;
and that sea seemed to lave the Pole itself. The
eye of the explorer surveyed at least forty miles of
uninterrupted water in a northern direction. The
point thus reached in this exploring expedition was
about five hundred miles distant from the Pole.
Had the party been able to convey thither a boat,
they might have embarked upon the bright and
placid waters of that lonely ocean. But, having been
able to make this journey only with the sledge,
further explorations were of course impossible. The
most remarkable development connected with this
discovery was that the temperature was here found
to be much more moderate than that farther south.
Marine birds sailed through the heavens. Rippling
waves followed each other on the surface of the
deep. A few stunted flowers grew over the barren
and rocky coast. The inference which may be drawn
from these and other facts is, that this open sea,
termed the Polar Basin, stretches to the Pole itself;
or at least continues a great distance until its course
is interrupted by other projections of the terra firma.
These are mysterious inquiries, still the great desiderata of Arctic travel; which will remain unanswered
until some more successful adventurer, gifted with
o 9 I
greater physical endurance, and furnished with more
abundant facilities than any of his predecessors,
shall persist in defiance of every impediment in
advancing until he boldly plants his foot upon the
mysterious spot now termed the North Pole, and then
succeeds in making his escape.
The several parties which had been sent forth
Dy Dr. Kane to explore the regions just described
having returned, the season of Arctic travel was
nearly terminated, and the members of the expedition were about to relapse again into winter quarters,
with their usual darkness, monotony, and gloom.
But, before resigning themselves entirely to this unwelcome seclusion, Dr. Kane resolved to make an
effort to reach Beechey Island. At this point Sir
Edward Belcher's squadron was then supposed to be
stationed; and from them the American explorers
might obtain both provisions and information. Accordingly, Dr. Kane manned his boat, called the
" Forlorn Hope," which was twenty-three feet long
and six feet and a half beam. The necessary amount
of provisions was placed on board, and the bold
venture was undertaken. Sometimes the boat was
navigated through the unfrozen channels cf water
which intervened between the floes of i$e; at other
times she was placed on a large sledge called the
" Faith," and thus transported over the frozen wastes. ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
This party approached Littleton Island, which had
been visited by Captain Inglefield. They here obtained a vast quantity of eider-ducks. They then
passed Flagstaff Point and Combermere Cape. Then
came Cape Isabella and Cape Frederick VH. On
the 23d of July they reached Hakluyt Island; and
thence they steered for the Cary Islands. But on the
31st of July, when they had reached a point but ten
miles distant from Cape Parry, their further progress
was absolutely stopped. A solid mass of ice lay
before them on the sea, extending as far as the eye
could reach. This barrier was composed of the vast
seas of ice which had drifted through Jones' Sound
on the west and those of Murchison's on the east.
The adventurers were now compelled to retrace their
way. About the 1st of August they regained the
brig, without having met with any accident, but also
without having succeeded in attaining the object of
their excursion- They found the "Advance" just
as tightly wedged into the ice as she had been during
the preceding eleven months, with no hope of getting
her speedily released.*
* See the " Arctic Explorations and Discoveries in the Nineteenth
Century," by Samuel M. Smucker, published by MiUer, Orton & Co.,
New York, 1856, page 486. CHAPTEE X.
On the 24th of August an important crisis occured
in the history of the expedition. The period had
arrived when it became necessary to determine
whether the officers and crew would attempt an immediate escape from the Polar regions, or whether
they would venture to remain in their icy exile during
another winter. The latter alternative was by no
means inviting; and when the commander summoned all hands to a general consultation, he stated
at length the considerations which had induced him
to resolve upon remaining. He showed them how
an attempt to escape by the open water would be
both dangerous and unsuccessful; yet at the same
time he gave his permission to all who might wish
to make the experiment. The roll was called, and
each man was allowed to answer for himself. Eight
out of seventeen decided to remain by the brig,
which was still immovably frozen in the ice. To
those who expressed a desire to return immediately,
Dr. Kane allotted their due proportion of provisions,
and other conveniences; and he also gave them
(what they did not deserve) a written assurance that,
should they be driven back by their trials and
dangers, they would receive a hearty welcome. They
started forth from the brig on the 28th; but long
before the remaining members of ^fche expedition
concluded their labors, in the succeeding December,
they all returned again to the vessel.
Those who remained began immediately to prepare for the rigors of the approaching winter. By
the 21st of October the light of the sun no more
illumined with its feeble rays that frozen realm; and
they resigned themselves to the cheerless darkness
of an Arctic night, and to the confined precincts of
their gloomy cabin. Thus November, December,
January, February gloomily wore away: Christmas
and New Year were celebrated a second time by
these gallant heroes, with the thermometer fifty
degrees below zero, with the best means which they
could command, which were indeed limited.
Our limits prevent us from describing with any
minuteness many of the incidents which characterized, and sometimes enlivened or saddened, the
life of Dr. Kane, during the leaden progress of this
third and last winter which he was destined to spend
in the Arctic regions.  An occasional excursion from
the brig in search of food, a fight with a bear, an
9* 2 /W-fMM
r~ ■
attack upon a walrus, or the capture of a seal, constituted the chief external incidents of his exile.
The majority of the men became afflicted with
disease; some were confined to their berths with
lameness; stiff joints, sore gums, purpuric blotches,
severe scurvy, swelled limbs, and frozen feet, were
the particular afflictions to which they were subjected. This state of things continued until the
beginning of April; and during the long intervening
interval the chief labor of Dr. Kane was devoted to
the preservation of his life and that of his associates.
With the approach of spring their attention was
naturally directed to their preparations for escape
and their return to the confines of civilization.
Daylight slowly began to dawn. One of the most
exciting incidents of this period was the recapture
of the deserter Godfrey. He had left the brig and
wandered to the small Esquimaux settlement termed
Etah, on Hartstene Bay, eighty miles distant. With
his usual determination, Dr. Kane made the journey
thither with a dog-sledge, and on his arrival boldly
approached, arrested, and mastered the offender, and
compelled him to return with him to the vessel. This
act, as much as some of the daring and notorious
incidents of his youth and early manhood, evinced
the unusual intrepidity of his character.
Before commencing his return to the United States ELISHA KENT KANE.
Dr. Kane resolved to undertake one more expedition for the purpose of exploring the farther shores
beyond Kennedy Channel. This purpose was only to
be accomplished by sledges drawn by dogs; and these
were now obtained from the Esquimaux who dwelt
at Etah. After journeying for fifty miles in this
direction, the obstacles presented by the perils and
irregularities of the ice were found to be insurmountable ; and the party returned to the brig, after
making the entire circuit of Dallas Bay, and of the
islands which gro&p themselves between Advance
Bay and the base of the Great Humboldt Glacier.
And now the preparations for their return were
resumed. The manufacture of clothing was a prominent part of this work. Boots made of carpeting, with soles of walrus-hide, body-clothing made
out of blankets, sleeping-sacks constructed from
buffalo robes, provision-bags rendered water-tight
by tar and pitch,—these constituted a portion of the
labor of the men. The ship-bread was pounded
into powder and pressed into bags. Pork-fat was
melted down, and then poured into other bags, in
order to be frozen. Bean-soup was cooked and
moulded in the same manner. The largest of the
three boats which the party were to use in their
return, was twenty-six feet long and seven feet
beam.  Each boat carried but one mast.  The names 104
of these three craft were, the Red Eric, the Hope,
and the Faith; and they were mounted on sledges,
for the purpose of being conveyed over the ice where
navigation was impossible. The 17th of May was
the day appointed for the commencement of their,
return and for their desertion of the ice-bound and
immovable brig. When the designated time arrived, every preparation had been completed which
the circumstances of the case permitted. It was
Sunday. The entire ship's company were summoned into the cabin. The commander read prayers
and a chapter of the Bible. He then addressed the
party, explaining the difficulties and duties which
were before them; at the same time assuring them
that he believed they might all be overcome by energy
and subordination. He reminded them of the perils
through which they had already passed, and urged
them to rely upon that great unseen Power which
had thus far protected and sustained them.
The members of the expedition, after the conclusion of Dr. Kane's remarks, immediately drew
up a paper, in which they stated their conviction of
the impossibility of removing the brig from her
solid bed of ice; the peril of their attempting to
remain a third winter in the Polar regions; and
promising unqualified obedience to his commands,
and special attention to their sick comrades. ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
When all were ready to start they went upon
deck; the flags were hoisted and hauled down again;
the men walked several times around the vessel,
taking a last long look at her hardened and battered
timbers; and then all hands scrambled oft* over the
hummocks toward the boats, which} at a short distance from the brig, had already been loaded, and
prepared for the journey. Four of the men were
invalids, and were conveyed in the boats by their
comrades. Dr. Kane drove the dog-team with which
he proposed to return to the vessel during the first few
days of their journey for additional supplies of food.
The men were divided into parties and appropriated
to the service of the several boats. The command
of the boats and sledges was given to the first officer
of the expedition, Mr. Brooks. The men drew
their loads by rue-raddies, which were wide straps
which passed over one shoulder and under the opposite arm, and were connected by long ropes to the
The first stage at which the party halted was a
spot known by the romantic epithet of " Anoatok,"
which, being interpreted, means the " wind-loyed
spot." It was marked by a single dilapidated stone
hut which had formerly been erected by the nomadic Esquimaux. After leaving the brig their progress
was at first little more than a mile a day, in con- 106
sequence of the enfeebled condition of the men.
The siek were then so drawn up by scurvy as to
be unable to move; and the temporary refuge which
they found at Anoatok doubtless saved their lives.
During the rest and delay of the party at this spot
Dr. Kane made several journeys with his dog-sledge
to the deserted brig in Rensselaer Bay. By this
means he conveyed many hundred pounds of pem-
mican to t&at retreat, thereby lessening the load
which was to be drawn in the boats. His last visit
to the Advance, with which so many bright and so
many sad associations were connected in his mind,
was made on the 28th of May. He was compelled
to abandon some of his scientific collections and
some of his philosophical instruments, which he
had hoped to be able to carry away with him; and,
having concluded all his arrangements, he loaded
his sledge, bade a last farewell to the old storm-
beaten craft, and left her with-a sigh in the icy bed
where to this day she reposes in an embrace stronger
than that of the Titans of old.
From Anoatok the journey was resumed toward
the- south; and it proved to be a most perilous and
laborious one. Their route lay over broad tide-
holes, deep snow, broken ice, and treacherous water,
and the dangers of the journey were so great that
they cost the life of one of the best and ablest ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
members of the expedition. In crossing a tide-hole
dne of the runners of the sledge of the "Hope"
broke through, and the boat would have gone under
and its contents lost had it not been for the prompt
exertions of Christian Ohlsen. By a sudden and
violent effort he passed a capstan-bar under the
sledge, and thus saved it until it was drawn upon
the firm ice. The sudden strain was too great for his
strength. He had injured himself internally, and three
days afterward he expired. He was buried by his
comrades, after being sewed up in his own blankets,
in a little gorge on the east face of Pekiutlik; where
his remains now repose beneath a rude and simple
mound, around which the cold winds of that frozen
zone sigh and sing from year to year their mournful
On the 18th of July the expedition reached the
termination of the solid ice, and they prepared to
continue their route by navigation. It was at Cape
Alexander that this change in their mode of locomotion began, and perils of a different description,
but not less imminent, thenceforth awaited them.
Nevertheless the commander led off in the Faith;
and he was boldly followed by the other two boats,
the Eric and the Hope.
Skirting along the abrupt and frozen shores of
Greenland, they occasionally halted and drew up
m 108
their boats upon the ice-cliffs. In one instance they
secured a retreat in a capacious cave formed in the
ice, which Dr. Kane appropriately named the Weary
Man's Rest. Another refuge received the equaUjfc
suitable epithet of Providence Halt. On the 18th of
July they reached the Crimson Cliffs and replenished
their stock of food by obtaining a large quantity of
the Arctic birds termed auks. Subsequently they
were compelled to abandon one of the boats, the
Red Eric, and resume for a period their laborious
travel with sledges upon the ice. The strength of
the men began to be exhausted; they were afflicted
with short breathing; and their feet swelled so badly
that they were obliged to cut open their canvas
boots. Some of them were unable to sleep. Nevertheless they manfully persisted, toiling to overcome
every obstacle, undaunted by any danger or difficulty, until at last, after an unparalleled journey of
eighty days, they saw tossing upon the distant wave
the first kayak or canoe of the Greenlander. As it
approached them they hailed its welcome occupant,
who proved to be Carl Mossyn, from the Danish
settlement of Kingatok. From him they soon
learned their exact location, and the brief outline
of news with which he was acquainted of the great
world from which they had so long been exiles. At
length, on the 5th of August, the wearied travellers ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
entered the port of Upernavik, landed, and hauled
their boats for the last time upon the rocky shore.
The memerable perils and sufferings of the expedition were thus happily ended.
On the 6th of September Dr. Kane embarked
with his crew on board the Danish vessel Mariane,
then at Upernavik, with the intention of disembarking at the Shetland Islands and thence making his
way homeward by some other means. He took on
board with him his favorite boat, the Faith. This
relic, together with the furs on his back, and the
documents which recorded the events and results of
the expedition, were the chief personal effects and
mementos which he brought with him of his
second Arctic expedition.
On the 11th of September the party arrived at
Godhaven. Here the Mariane stopped for a short
time to receive her papers of clearance, and discharge a few stores. Dr. Kane was on the point of
sailing with her, when Captain Hartstene's vessels,
the Release and the Arctic, which had been sent
out in search of him, opportunely hove in sight.
The navigators soon became aware of each other's
presence. Dr. Kane immediately left the Mariane
and transferred himself to Captain Hartstene's ship,
where he and his associates were greeted with loud
and long huzzas of welcome, and the most hearty and
10 110
Hit   ll?
genial reception. Their protracted voyage, with its
infinite anxieties and toils, their perilous adventures
amid cheerless continents of ice, their narrow escapes
from rolling mountains and colossal icebergs, their
sufferings from cold, hunger, and disease, their
gloomy apprehensions of descending at last to an
unknown grave amid the solitudes of the Arctic
realms, and their sad doubts whether they should
ever again behold the welcome and familiar scenes
of home and friends to which they had so long been
exiles,—all these now terminated in eventual triumph and escape. Dr. Kane's labors had not indeed
resulted in the discovery of any new traces or remains of Sir John Franklin; but they were the
means of securing important additions to geographical knowledge and valuable acquisitions in botany,
meteorology, and other departments of science. His
laborious researches have probably left little to be
hereafter attained by any successor in Arctic exploration. He and his party arrived in the port of New
York, with the squadron of Captain Hartstene, on
the 11th of October, 1855, having been absent
during the period of two years and nine months in
the pursuit of his dangerous and honorable enterprise.*
* See •' History of the Second Grinnell Expedition," attributed to
Professor Sontag, passim. ^ CHAPTER XL |,
No inconsiderable portion of Dr. Kane's eminence
resulted from his unquestionable ability in the department of authorship. A prominent peculiarity
of all his productions is the clearness and accuracy
with which they reflect his own distinctive qualities
of mind and heart. They are, to a great extent,
faithful mirrors in which the reader can behold the
image and the idiosyncrasies of the man. The size
and value of these works render them in some degree
inaccessible to the great mass of the community; yet
a biography which would contain no specimen of his
literary productions would inevitably fail to ftirnish a
satisfactory portrait of his character and his genius.
We therefore insert in the present chapter extracts
from the Official Report which Dr. Kane rendered
to the Secretary of the Navy at Washington of the
incidents and results of his celebrated expedition;
and although very little opportunity was afforded in
this essay for the display of scientific or literary
w ^^^
*"" ''^^^M^^^
acquisitions, it is illustrative of the author's character, inasmuch as its style and manner are singularly in accordance with what the peculiarities of a
government document ought to be: it is unsurpassed
for conciseness, clearness, and comprehensiveness.
After briefly narrating his departure from the port
of New York, Dr. Kane proceeds:
"On reaching Melville Bay I found the shore4ees so decayed
that I did not deem it advisable to attempt the usual passage
along the fast floes of the land, but stood directly to the nortlfc*
ward and westward, as indicated by my log, until I met the
Middle Pack. Here we headed nearly direct for Cape York,
and succeeded in crossing the bay without injury in ten days
after first encountering the ice. On the 7th of August we
reached the headland of Sir Thomas Smith's Sound, and passed
the highest point attained by our predecessor, Captain Ingle-
field, R.N. So far our observations accorded completely with
the experience of this gallant officer in the summer of 1852.
A fresh breeze, with a swell setting in from the southward and
westward; marks upon the rocks indicating regular tides; no
ice visible from aloft, and all the signs of continuous open
water. As we advanced, however, a belt of heavy stream-ice
was seen,—an evident precursor of drift; and a little afterward
it became evident that the channel to the northward was obstructed by drifting pack. We were still too far to the south to
carry out the views I had formed of our purposed search, and it
became my duty, therefore, to attempt the penetration of this
ice. Before doing this, I selected an appropriate inlet for a
provision-depdt, and buried there a supply of beef, pork, and
bread; at the same place we deposited our Francis's life-boat,
covering it carefully with wet sand, and overlaying the frozen ELISHA KENT  KANE.
mass with stones and moss. We afterward found that the
Esquimaux had hunted around this inlet; but the cache,
which we had thus secured as our own resort in case of
emergency, escaped detection. JSTo one having yet visited
this coast, I landed on the most prominent western headland
of a group of small islands,—the Littleton Islands of Ingle-
field,—and erected there a flagstaff and beacon; near this
beacon, according to preconcerted arrangement, we deposited
official despatches and our private letters of farewell. My
first design in entering the pack was to force a passage to the
nor$i; but, after reaching latitude 78° 45' N., we found the
ice hugging the American shore, and extending in a drifting
mass completely across the channel. This ice gradually bore
down upon us, and we were forced to seek the comparatively
open spaces of the Greenland coast. Still, we should have
inevitably been beset and swept to the south, but for a small
landlocked bay under whose cliffs we found a temporary asylum.
We named it Refuge Inlet: it carries fifty fathoms of water
within a biscuit-toss of its northern headland, and, but for a
glacier which occupies its inner curve, would prove an eligible
winter harbor.
"We were detained in this helpless situation three valuable
days, the pack outside hardly admitting the passage of a boat.
But, on the 13th, fearing lest the rapidly-advancing cold might
prevent our penetrating farther, we warped out into the drift,
and fastened to a grounded berg. That the Department may
correctly apprehend our subsequent movements, it is necessary
to describe some features peculiar to our position. The coast
trended to the N.N.E. It was metamorphic in structure,
rising in abrupt precipitous cliffs of basaltic greenstone from
eight hundred to twelve hundred feet in perpendicular height.
The shore at the base of this wall was invested by a permanent belt of ice, measuring from three to forty yards in,
H 10*
!   )
width, with a mean summer thickness of eighteen feet. The
ice clung to the rocks with extreme tenacity; and, unlike
similar formations to the south, it had resisted the thawing
influences of summer. The tidal currents had worn its seaward face into a gnarled mural escarpment, against which the
floes broke with splendid displays of force; but it still preserved an upper surface comparatively level, and adapted as a
sort of highway for farther travel. The drifting ice or pack
outside of it was utterly impenetrable; many bergs recently
discharged were driving backward and forward with the tides,
and thus, pressing upon the ice of the floes, had raised up
hills from sixty to seventy feet high. The mean rise and fall
of the tide was twelve feet, and its rate of motion two and a
half knots an hour.
"In this state of things, having no alternative but either
to advance or to discontinue the search, I determined to take
advantage of a small interspace which occurred at certain
stages of the tide between the main pack and the coast, and,
if possible, press through it. I was confirmed in this purpose
by my knowledge of the extreme strength of the Advance,
and my confidence in the spirit and fidelity of my comrades.
The effort occupied us until the 1st of September. It was
attended by the usual dangers of ice-penetration. We were
on our beam-ends whenever the receding tides left us in deficient soundings; and on two of such occasions it was impossible to secure our stoves so as to prevent the brig from
taking fire. We reached latitude 78° 43' N. on the 29th
of x^ugust, having lost a part of our starboard bulwarks, a
quarter-boat, our jib-boom, our best bower-anchor, and about
six hundred fathoms of hawser; but with our brig in all
essentials uninjured.
"We were now retarded by the rapid advance of winter: the
young ice was forming with such rapidity that it became ELISHA KENT KANE.
evident that we must soon be frozen in. At this juncture my
officers addressed to me written opinions in favor of a return
to a more southern harbor; but, as such a step would have
cost us our dearly-purchased progress and removed us from
the field of our intended observations, I could not accede to
their views. I determined, therefore, to start on foot with
a party of observation, to seek a spot which might be eligible
as a starting-point for our future travel, and, if such a one
were found, to enter at once upon the fall duties of search.
This step determined on, the command of the brig was committed to Mr. Ohlsen, and I started on the 29th of August
With a detachment, carrying a whale-boat and sledge. The
ice soon checked the passage of our boat; but I left her, and
proceeded with a small sledge along the ledge of ice which,
under the name of 'ice-foot/ I have before described as
clinging to the shore. We were obliged, of course, to follow
all the indentations of the coast, and our way was often completely obstructed by the discharge of rocks from the adjacent
cliffs. In crossing a glacier we came near losing our party,
and were finally compelled to abandon the sledge and continue
our journey on foot. We succeeded, however, in completing
our work, and reached a projecting cape, from which, at an
elevation of eleven hundred feet, I commanded a prospect of
the ice to the north and west as high as latitude 80° N. A
black ridge running nearly due north, which we found afterward to be a glacier, terminated our view along the Greenland
coast to the eastward. Numerous icebergs were crowded in
masses throughout the axis of the channel; and, as far as our
vision extended, the entire surface was a frozen sea. The
island named Louis Napoleon on the charts of Captain Ingle-
field does not exist. The resemblance of ice to land will
readily explain the misapprehension.
^The result of this journey, although not cheering, confirmed ill
me in my intention of wintering in the actual position of the
brig; and I proceeded, immediately on our return, to organize
parties for the fall, with a view to the establishment of provision-depots to facilitate the further researches of the spring-
In selecting sites for these and the attendant travel, our parties passed over more than eight hundred miles. The coast
of Greenland was traced one hundred and twenty-five miles
to the north and east, and three caches were established at
favorable points. The largest of these (No. IIL of chart)
contained eight hundred pounds of pemmican; it was" located
upon an island in latitude 79° 12' 6" N., longitude 65° 25'
W., by Messrs. McGary and Bonsall. These operations were
continued until the 20th of November, when the darkness
arrested them. Our brig had been frozen in since the 10th
of September. We had selected a harbor near a group of
rocky islets in the southeastern curve of the bay, where we
could establish our observatory, and had facilities for procuring water and for daily exercise. We were secure, too,
against probable disturbance during the winter, and were sufficiently within the tidal influences to give us a hope of liberation in the spring.
"As we were about to winter higher north than any
previous expedition, and, besides a probable excess of cold,
were about to experience a longer deprivation of solar
light, the arrangements for the interior were studied carefully. The deck was housed in with boards and calked
with oakum. A system of warmth and ventilation was
established; our permanent lamps were cased with chimneys,
to prevent the accumulation of smoke; cooking, ice-melting,
and washiug arrangements were minutely cared for; the dogs
were kennelled in squads, and they were allowed the alternate
use of snow-houses and of the brig, as their condition might
require.    Our domestic system was organized with the most ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
exact attention to cleanliness, exercise, recreation, and withal to
fixed routine. During the winter which followed, the sun was
one hundred and twenty days below the horizon; and, owing to
a range of hills toward our southern meridian, the maximum
darkness was not relieved by apparent twilight even at noonday. The atmospheric temperatures were lower than any
that had been recorded by others before us. We had adopted
every precaution to secure accuracy in these observations, and
the indications of our numerous thermometers—alcoholic,
ethereal, and mercurial—were registered hourly. From them
it appears that the mean annual temperature of Rensselaer
Harbor, as we named our winter-home, is lower than that of
Melville Island, as recorded by Parry, by two degrees. In
certain sheltered positions, the process of freezing was unin-
termitted for any consecutive twenty-four hours throughout
the year. The lowest temperature was observed in February,
when the mean of eight instruments indicated minus 70°
Fahrenheit. Chloroform froze; the essential oils of sassafras,
juniper, cubebs, and wintergreen were resolved into mixed
solid and liquid; and on the morning of February 24 we witnessed chloric ether congealed for the first time by a natural
"Our preparations for the second winter were modified
largely by controlling circumstances. The physical energies
of the party had sensibly declined. Our resources were diminished. We had but fifty gallons of oil saved from our summer's seal-hunt. We were scant of fuel; and our food, which
now consisted only of the ordinary marine stores, was by no
means suited to repel scurvy. Our molasses was reduced to
forty gallons, and our dried fruits seemed to have lost their
efficiency. A single apartment was bulkheaded off amidships
as a dormitory and abiding-room for our entire party, and a
moss envelop, cut with difficulty from the frozen cliffs, made 118
to enclose it like a wall. A similar casing was placed over
our deck, and a small tunnelled entry—the tossut of the Ea*
quimaux—contrived to enter from below. We adopted as
nearly as we could the habits of the natives, burning lamps
for heat, dressing in fox-skin clothing, and relying for our
daily supplies on the success of organized hunting-parties.
" The upper tribes of these Esquimaux had their nearest
winter settlement at a spot distant, by dog-journey, about
seventy-five miles. We entered into regular communication
with this rude and simple-minded people, combining our
efforts with theirs for mutual support, and interchanging
numerous friendly offices. Bear-meat, seal, walrus, fox, and
ptarmigan, were our supplies. They were eaten raw, with a
rigorous attention to their impartial distribution. With the
dark months, however, these supplies became very scanty.
The exertions of our best hunters were unavailing, and my
personal attempts to reach the Esquimaux failed less on
account of the cold (minus 52°) than the ruggedness of the
ice, the extreme darkness, and the renewal of tetanic diseases
among our dogs. Our poor neighbors, however, fared worse
than ourselves: famine, attended by frightful forms of disease, reduced them to the lowest stages of misery and emaciation. Our own party was gradually disabled. Mr. Brooks
and Mr. Wilson, both of whom had lost toes by amputation,
manifested symptoms of a grave character. WilHain Morton
was severely frozen; and we were deprived of the valuable
services of the surgeon by the effects of a frost-bite, which
rendered it necessary for him to submit to amputation.
Scurvy with varying phases gradually pervaded our company,
until Mr. Bonsall and myself only remained able to attend
upon the sick and carry on the daily, work of the ship, if that
name could still appropriately designate the burrow which we
inhabited.    Even after this state of things had begun to im- ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
prove, the demoralizing effects of continued debility and
seemingly hopeless privation were unfavorably apparent
among some of the party. I pass from this topic with the
single remark that our ultimate escape would have been
hazarded, but for the often painfully-enforced routine which
the more experienced among us felt the necessity of adhering
to rigorously under all circumstances.
" In the latter part of March the walrus again made their
appearance among the broken ice to the south, and we shared
with the Esquimaux the proceeds of the hunt. The hemorrhages which had much depressed our party subsided, and we
began slowly to recover our strength. The sun came back to
us on the 21st of February; and by the 18th of April the
carpenter and several others were able to resume their duties.
In view of the contingencies which I had long apprehended,
I found it necessary to abandon the brig. We had already
consumed for firewood her upper spars, bulwarks, deck-
sheathing, stanchions, bulkheads, hatches, extra strengthening-timbers—in fact, every thing that could be taken without
destroying her sea-worthiness. The papers which I append
show the results of the several surveys made at this time by
my orders. It will be seen from them that we had but a few
weeks' supply left of food or fuel; that the path of our
intended retreat was a solid plain of ice, and that to delay a
third winter, while it could in no wise promote the search
after Sir John Franklin, would prove fatal to many of our
party. Our organization for the escape was matured with the
greatest care. Three boats—two of them whaleboats twenty-
four feet in length, and the third a light cedar dingy of thirteen feet—were mounted upon runners cut from the crossbeams of the vessel and bolted, to prevent the disaster of
breakage. These runners were eighteen feet in length, and
shod with hoop-iron.    No nails were used in their construe- 1
tion; they were lashed together so as to form a pliable sledge,
and upon it the boats were cradled so as to be removable at
"A fourth sledge, with a team of dogs, was reserved for
the transport of our sick, four of whom were still unable to
move, and for carrying on our stock of provisions. An abandoned Esquimaux hut, about thirty-five miles from the brig,
was fitted up as well as our means permitted, to serve as an
entrepot of stores and a wayside shelter for those of the party
who were already broken down, or who might yield to the first
trials of the journey. The cooking-utensils were made from
our old stove-pipe. They consisted of simple soup-boilers,
enclosed by a cylinder to protect them from the wind. A
metal trough to receive fat, with the aid of moss and cotton
canvas, enabled us to keep up an active fire. My provisions
were packed in water-proof bags, adapted in shape to the
sheer of the boats, and in no case rising above the thwarts.
They consisted, with the exception of tea, coffee, and small
stores for the sick, exclusively of melted fat and powdered
biscuit. The clothing was limited to a fixed allowance. Moccasins for the feet were made of our woollen carpeting, which
had been saved for the purpose, and numerous changes of dry
blanket-socks were kept for general use. For bedding, our
buffalo-robes were aided by eider-down quilted into coverlets:
the experience of former travel having assured us that, next
to diet and periodical rest, good bedding and comfortable footgear were the most important things to be considered.
"I took upon myself the office of transporting the sick and
our reserve of provisions, employing for this purpose a dog-
sledge and our single team of dogs. I carried down my first
load of stores in April, and on the 15th of May began the
removal of the sick. By the middle of June, all our disabled men and some twelve hundred pounds of stores had in ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
this manner been transferred by a series of journeyings equal
in the aggregate to eleven hundred miles. On the 17th of
May, having authenticated by appropriate surveys the necessities of our condition and made all our preparations for the
journey, the sledge-boats left the^ vessel, dragged by the
lofficers and men, under the immediate charge of Mr. Henry
Brooks; a duty which he fulfilled with unswerving fidelity
and energy.
" My collections of natural history were also carried as far
as the sick-station at Anoatok; but, under a reluctant conviction that a further effort to preserve them would risk the
safety of the party, they were finally abandoned. It is grateful to me to recollect the devotion of my comrades, who
volunteered to sacrifice shares of both food and clothing to
secure these records of our labors. We were able, not without difficulty, to carry our chronometers and the various instruments, magnetic and others, which might allow me still
to make and verify our accustomed observations. We left
behind the theodolite of the United States Coast Survey and
the valuable self-registering barometric apparatus furnished
by the American Philosophical Society. Our library, as well
those portions which had been furnished by the government
and by Mr. Grinnell as my own, were necessarily sacrificed.
We preserved only the documents of the Expedition. The
first portions of our journey filled me with misgivings, as the
weakness of the party showed itself in dropsical swellings
and excessive difficulty of respiration. In spite of a careful
system of training, the first exposure to temperatures ranging
about zero and below it were to an invalid party extremely
trying; and for the first eight days the entire distance accomplished from the ship did not exceed fifteen miles. Although
the mean rate of transportation was afterward increased, it
never exceeded three and a half miles a day over ice.    Some
11 122
idea may be formed by the Department of the nature of thia
journey from the fact that every three and a ha!f miles thus
attained cost us from twelve to fifteen miles of actual travel.
" To sustain the party by the aid of fresh food required
dog-journeys to the south settlements of the Esquimaux, distant from us about seventy-five miles.. I found it necessary,
also, to return from time to time to the brig, with the view
of augmenting our supplies. My last visit to her was on the
8th of June, for the purpose of procuring some pork to serve
for fuel. She was then precisely as when we left her on the
17th of May, immovably frozen in, with nine feet of solid ice
under her bows. We availed ourselves of the occasional facilities which these visits allowed us to increase our stock of
bread, of whioh we succeeded in baking four hundred and
eighty pounds.
"Continuing our southward progress, we neared Littleton
Island. Our sick, first left at Anoatok, were gradually brought
down to the boats as some of them gained strength enough to
aid in the labor of dragging. The condition of the ice as it
became thinner and decaying made this labor more difficult;
and, in the course of our many breaks through, several of
the party narrowly escaped being carried under by the tides.
In the effort to liberate our sledges from the broken ice after
one of these accidents, Acting Carpenter Ohlsen received an
internal injury. Paralysis of the bladder was rapidly followed
by tetanic symptoms, and he died on the 12th of June, three
days after his attack. He has left behind him a young wife,
who depended entirely upon him for support. He was buried
upon Littleton Island, opposite a cape whioh bears his name.
" From this stage of our journey up to the time of reaching
the first open water, which was near Cape Alexander, we were
Comforted by the friendly assistance of the Esquimaux of
Etah.    These people faithfully adhered to the alliance which ELISHA KENT  KANE.
we had established during the winter. They brought us daily
supplies of birds, helped us to carry our provisions and stores,
and in their daily intercourse with us exhibited the kindest
feeling and most rigid honesty. When we remembered. that
they had been so assuming and aggressive upon our first
arrival that I was forced to seize their wives as hostages for
the protection of our property, their present demeanor was
not without its lesson. Once convinced of our superiority
of power, and assured of our disposition to unite our resources
with theirs for mutual protection and support, they had relied
upon us implicitly, and strove now to requite their obligations
toward us by ministering to our wants. We left them on the
18th of June, at the margin of the floe. In thirty-one days
we had walked three hundred and sixteen miles, and had
transported our boats over eighty-one miles of unbroken ice.
The men, women, and children of the little settlement had
also travelled over the ice to bid us good-bye, and we did not
part from them without emotion.
"The passage between this point and one ten miles northwest of Hakluyt Island was in open water. It was the only
open water seen north of Cape York, in latitude 75° 59' N.
We ran this under sail in a single day, hauling up on the ice
to sleep. The ice was a closed pack, hanging around the
north and south channels of Murchison Sound, and seemingly
continued to the westward. The land-ices were still unbroken,
and we were obliged to continue our journey by alternate
movements over ice and water. So protracted and arduous
were these, that between the 20th of June and the 6th of
July we had advanced but one hundred miles. Our average
progress was about eight miles a day, stopping for our hunting-
parties and for sleep. Great care was taken not to infringe
upon the daily routine. We had perpetual daylight; but it
was my rule, rarely broken even by extreme necessity, not to 124
II r
enter upon the labors of a day until we were fully refreshed
from those of the day before. We halted regularly at bedtime and for meals. The boats, if afloat, were drawn up, the
oars always disposed on the ice as a platform for the stores^
our buffalo-skins were spread, each man placed himself with
his pack according to his number, the cook for the day made
his fire, and the ration, however scanty, was formally measured
out. Prayers were never intermitted. I believe firmly that
to these well-sustained observances we are largely indebted for*
our final escape.
"As we moved onward, we were forced to rely principally on
our guns for a supply of food. We suffered, when off the
coast immediately north of Wostenholm Sound, from a scarcity
of game, and were subjected to serious sickness in consequence.
But at Dalrymple Island, a little farther south, we recruited
rapidly on eggs of the eider-duck; and from this point to
Conical Bock we found birds in abundance. Again, at the
most uncertain period of our passage, when our stock of provisions was nearly exhausted, we were suddenly arrested in our
course by high and rugged land-ice, which hugged a glacier
near Cape Dudley Digges. We were too weak to drag our
boats over this barrier, and were driven in consequence to land
under the cliffs. To our joyful surprise, we found them
teeming with animal life. This transition from enfeebling
want to the plenty which restored our strength, we attributed
to the direct interposition of Providence. The lumme (Uriae,
Brunichii, and Troile) was the fowl which we here found in
greatest numbers. We dried upon the rocks about two
hundred pounds of its meat, which we carefully saved for the
transit of Melville Bay. The rest of the coast, except under
the glaciers, was followed with less difficulty. We found peat
of good quality, and plenty of food. Our daily allowance of
birds was twelve to a man.    They were boiled into a rich ELISHA KENT  KANE.
soup, to which we added a carefully-measured allowance of six
oucces of bread.
"On the 21st we reached Cape York, and, finding no natives,
made immediate preparations for crossing Melville Bay. An
extended view showed the land-ice nearly unbroken, and a
large drift of pack to the southward and westward. A beacon-
cairn was built, and strips of red flannel fastened to a flagstaff
so placed as to attract the attention of whalers or searching-
parties. I deposited here a notice of our future intentions,
a list of our provisions on hand, and a short summary of the
discoveries of the cruise.
" Up to the 26th of July our traverse of Melville Bay was
along the margin of the land-ice, with only twice a resort to
portage. We came then upon comparatively open drift extending to the southward and westward, which, after mature
consideration, I determined to follow. There were arguments
in favor of a different course, perhaps for the time less hazardous; but the state of health among my comrades admonished
me that it was best to encounter the risks that were to expedite
our release. The reduced bulk of our stores enabled us now to
consolidate the party into two boats, breaking up the remaining one for fuel, of which we were in need. Our lengthened
practice of alternating boat and sledge management had given
us something of assurance in this mode of travel, and we were,
besides, familiarized with privation. It was a time of renewed suffering; but, in the result, we reached the north
coast of Greenland, near Horse's Head, on the 3d of August,
and, following thence the inside passage, arrived on the 6th
at Upernavik, eighty-three days after leaving the Advance.
We did not intermit our observations by sextant and artificial
horizon as we came down the bay, and succeeded in adding
to our meteorological and magnetic registers. These, including a re-survey of the coast as laid down in the Admi-
11* II
I m
n lM\m
turn nl. fsm.w f
II il
ralty charts, will be included in a special report to the
"We were welcomed at the Danish settlements with characteristic hospitality. The chief trader, Knud Oelmeyden
Fleischer, advanced to us from the stores of the Royal Greenland Trading Company at Upernavik whatever our necessities
required; and when we afterward reached G-odhavn, the seat
of the royal inspectorate, Mr. Olrik, the inspector, lavished
the kindest attentions upon our party.
" We had taken passage at Upernavik in the Danish brig
Marianne, then upon her annual visit to the Greenland colonies, Captain Amandsen, her very courteous and liberal commander, having engaged to land us at the Shetland Isles on his
return route to Copenhagen. But, touching for a few days
at Disco,.we were met by the vessels which had been sent
after us, under the command of Lieutenant Hartstene. I
have no words to express the gratitude of all our party toward
that noble-spirited officer and his associates, and toward our
countrymen at home who had devised and given effect to the
expedition for our rescue/'
The mental and physical labor involved in the
preparation of the narrative of his second Arctic
Expedition exerted a pernicious influence on Dr.
Kane's health. His active habits had rendered him
in a great measure unfit for the confining and
sedentary toil involved in such an undertaking.
After suffering severely from the scurvy during
many months of his absence, the first necessity of
his system was relaxation and amusement; instead
of which he devoted himself continuously and laboriously to the completion of the task which he had
designated for himself.
The anxieties attendant upon the composition of
this work were increased by the attempt which was
made by those pecuniarily interested in its future sale,
to obtain an appropriation from Congress for the
purchase of a large number of copies. The representatives from Philadelphia, Messrs. Tyson and Florence, particularly interested themselves in this
effort.   They were aided by other statesmen of
127 f   1!
eminence at Washington; by whose means a favorable bill was passed by the House. There were
greater obstacles to be overcome in the Senate;
where, eventually, the proposed appropriation was
negatived. This result was naturally the source of
much vexation to the author, to whom the sensation
of defeat in any enterprise was an unusual and a
repugnant one. This failure was not produced by
any supposed want of merit either in the work or
in the expedition whose events it chronicled; but
because a contrary course was thought to establish
a precedent which would be pernicious or unfair.
What the government thought of the expedition
may be gathered from Mr. Dobbin's published sentiments on the subject. He says, "The discoveries
made by this truly remarkable man and excellent
officer (Dr. Kane) will be regarded as valuable
contributions to science. He advanced in those
frozen regions far beyond his intrepid predecessors
whose explorations had excited such admiration.
I commend the results of his explorations as
worthy of the * attention and patronage of Congress."* Other legislative bodies in the country
were not so backward in expressions of proper
appreciation.     The Legislatures of Pennsylvania,
* See the Annual Report of Mr. Dobbin, Secretary of the Navy,
dated December 3, 1855. ELTSHA  KENT  KANE
New York, ISTew Jersey, and Maryland passed
resolutions applauding the results of the Expedition; while from the Legislature of New York,
from the Geographical Society of London, and from
the sovereign of Great Britain, Dr. Kane received
gold medals as tokens of their admiration for his
services and achievements.
The question here very naturally suggests itself:
What were the actual results produced by Dr. Kane's
second expedition ? These results can be ascertained
most accurately by a careful examination of the
elaborate Chart which was published in connection
with his narrative, and by comparing its novelties
and improvements with the charts which had previously existed. By such a scrutiny we learn (1)
That Dr. Kane explored the northern face of Greenland, where it is united with the northern extremity
of the opposite coast by the Great Glacier of Humboldt. (2.) He carefully examined this remarkable
and unfamiliar wonder of the Arctic zone; which,
as we have seen on a preceding page, presents an
unbroken front of sixty miles. (3.) He discovered
and described the most northern extremity and projection of the American Continent. (4.) He discovered and examined the coast of Washington
Land, which is separated from the American Continent by a channel thirty-five miles in width.    (5.) 130
He delineated nearly a thousand miles of coastJine,
to accomplish which result he journeyed two thousand miles either on foot, or on sledges drawn by
dogs. (6.) The expedition also discovered the Polar
Sea, which Captain Inglefield supposed he had also
previously seen, as asserted in his so-called "Dip
into the Polar Basin;" but which flattering idea
was* probably a delusion.* The discovery of this
singular phenomenon by Dr. Kane's expedition
rests not upon the authority of the commander, but
on that of Morton.
After having completed his second narrative for
the press, Dr. Kane's health was so much impaired
that he felt the necessity of trying the recuperative
effect of travel. He sailed for England in October,
1856. During the passage he became worse. After
a voyage of ordinary duration, he reached Liverpool.
Here he visited Mrs. Franklin, the devoted wife of
the heroic navigator, the British Admiralty, and
the Royal Geographical Society; and he was everywhere received with the cordial applause and distinction which were due to his character and services. But he quickly discovered that the foggy
atmosphere of London, and its reeking miasmata,
* See "A Summer's Search for Sir John Franklin, with a Dip into
the Polar Basin," by Commander E. A. Inglefield, in the steamer
Isabel.   London, 1853. ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
were deadly in their effects upon his system; and
he resolved at once to test the influence of a clearer
and purer climate. The disease which afflicted him
was the one to which he had long been subject,—
hypertrophy, or enlargement, of the heart; a dangerous and painful affection, which produced frequent palpitation and difficult respiration. With
these ailments were now united that endemic Arctic
plague, the scurvy.
In accordance with his resolution, Dr. Kane sailed
for Cuba in November, 1856. On the 25th of December he reached the port of Havana. The voyage had not improved his health, and a paralyzed
leg and arm were now added to his other diseases.
Having disembarked and taken lodgings at a hotel
on shore, his condition slightly improved. In a few
days his mother and two brothers reached his bedside; and thus he obtained a very great alleviation
of his loneliness and his sufferings, by enjoying the
presence and the assiduities of those to whom he
was most closely attached. He still entertained
hopes of recovery, and anxiously desired to resume
his voyage homeward; but his fate had been far
differently ordered. He continued to sink rapidly
from day to day. In the last solemn scenes of his
life he was as remarkable and peculiar as during
the whole of his previous  existence.   Very soon I
after his arrival at Havana he discovered that recovery was hopeless; he became conscious that his
last hour rapidly approached; and he yielded to
his destiny with the self-possessed resignation and
composure of a hero and a Christian. At his own
request, favorite portions of Scripture were daily
read in his hearing, to which he listened, even
when racked by the acutest pangs of suffering, with
devout attention, and which seemed greatly to solace and cheer him. One incident which occurred
in the dying chamber of that youthful hero well
deserves to be held in remembrance. It had been
his fate, as it is invariably the lot of superior genius
and success, to pay the penalty of such rare gifts
by incurring the jealousy, the malice, and the persecution of those meaner and baser reptiles of the
human species who thus revenge themselves for
their own insignificance and inferiority. From
such as these Dr. Kane had suffered aggravated
wrongs; yet even these, upon hk death-bed, he
himself cordially forgave, and demanded a similar
sentiment from his weeping relatives around him.
In this act there was displayed a moral sublimity
and a philosophy which words cannot describe; for if
the forgiveness of enemies be the most difficult and
elevated duty of Christian ethics; if the sublimest
teachings of human philosophers, either ancient or ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
modern, have never yet attained so exalted a conception ; if this be one of the chief elements of
Christianity which proves its measureless superiority over all human systems of belief and duty;
then he who possessed the almost unparalleled
courage and conscience to fulfil that precept deserves to be applauded to the echo as a wise, a
good, and even a great, man.
This last duty having been performed, and when
the voice of maternal tenderness was repeating the
comforting words of the Great Teacher of men:
"Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God,
believe also in me. In my Father's house are many
mansions : if it were not so I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you;" the spirit of the
sufferer, gently severing the cords which bound it
to its scarred and battered tenement of earth, sprang
upward and away to other and nobler spheres. This
event occurred on the 16th of February, 1857.
The remains of Dr. Kane were conveyed by his
relatives from Havana to his native city for inters
ment. Appropriate honors and impressive ceremonies attended their progress from New Orleans to
Philadelphia, at all the principal cities upon the
route. When they arrived at the termination of
their journey, they lay in solemn state for some days
in the Hall of American Independence. The City
Councils passed resolutions of condolence for his
death, of appreciation of his merits, and of respect
for his memory. A meeting of distinguished citizens
was held, in which resolutions were adopted of similar import; and addresses were delivered by persons
of eminence, which echoed the public sentiments
prevalent on the subject.:: The funeral obsequies
were probably the most imposing and extensive
which had ever been witnessed in Philadelphia. AU
the corporate bodies, all the military companies,
representatives of all the public institutions, and
men of distinction in every profession and pursuit^
served to form the immense procession which foi-
lowed the corpse. Appropriate religious services
took place in the Second Presbyterian Church;
during the progress of which an eloquent and appropriate discourse was delivered by the pastor, commemorative of the virtues and merits of the deceased.
His remains were at length deposited in their last
long home at Laurel Hill Cemetery. A deep interest was taken by the whole community in these
solemn rites, by which a great city expressed her
admiration for the services and her esteem for the
character of one of her most distinguished citizens,
whose career of usefulness and celebrity had been
thus suddenly and prematurely terminated.
The personal appearance of Dr. Kane was not
such as would be anticipated from the immense
energy which he exhibited and the wasting labors
which he endured. He was below the medium size
and weight, not exceeding five feet and a half in
height. But the energy and the vivida vis animi which
inhabited his frame imparted the stimulus and the
power which impelled and sustained him. It is said
that when the Mamelukes of Egypt first beheld the
diminutive form of Napoleon, they could scarcely
believe that he was the consummate and gifted soldier
whose fame overshadowed the East, and whose masterly skill had broken and scattered their splendid 136
and formidable cavalry in the memorable battle of
the Pyramids. It is erroneous, indeed, always to
associate great mental power with an immense quantity of muscle and flesh, for they are rarely combined
together; and the case of Dr. Kane was an additional
illustration of this fact. But over his fragife frame
and in his expressive countenance there was diffused
that stamp of pure and high intellect, which always
casts so undefinable a glory over the perishable body
which enshrines it.
A prominent peculiarity of his mind was its capacity for intense, spasmodic, and prolonged activity.
His faculties were keen, penetrating, vigorous, and
persistent. It was his fashion to master every thing
to which he seriously devoted his attention. He
was bold, sometimes even to rashness; and to this
peculiar quality are to be ascribed many of the most
remarkable adventures of his life. He was not deficient in self-respect;. but, on the contrary, he was
marked by the dignity and decorum characteristic
of the well-bred gentleman. His scientific attainments were extensive, as his published works unanswerably prove. But a more valuable quality than
even these consisted in his practical shrewdness,
energy, stability, and decision of character. All
these combined together were necessary to constitute
the extraordinary character which he possessed, and ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
to produce the unusual achievements which he per-
In reference to Dr. Kane's moral qualities, it
may with truth be said that he was a devout man.
In every country his thoughts uniformly ascended
reverently from nature to nature's God. If, amid
the awful silence of an Arctic night, when not the
slightest sound broke the appalling stillness of the
scene, he gazed abroad from the deck of his vessel
upon the boundless waste of frozen seas, mountains,
and headlands which stretched away for hundreds
of miles around him and separated him from that
distant world of life, joy, and sympathy which he
might never see again; then he. looked upward into
the solemn depths of the blue concave above him,
and appreciating both the loneliness of his position
and the watchfulness of the common Benefactor of
all, exclaimed, " Lord, what is man. that thou art
mindful of him?" If, from the heights of Popocatepetl he surveyed the expended and diversified
realms where, in former ages, Mexican arts, civilization, and power flourished and covered/the earth
with gorgeous cities, stately palaces, luxuriant vegetation, and all the pleasing or impressive monuments
of a great and cultivated nation; if he contemplated
from his lofty perch the memorable process of conflict, defeat, and subjugation which marked the era
12* 138
of the supremacy of the mightier but baser power
of Spain, and remembered how a patriotic people,
whose glory has passed away forever, fought and
perished for the freedom and honor of their native
land with a heroism worthy of a happier fate; if he
thus condensed into a single view an epitome of
the events of three mournful and momentous centuries of one of the most remarkable portions of the
globe; it was to deduce the grdnt and wise principle
that, in all climes and ages, the just and beneficent
hand of Providence controls the affairs of the world
in accordance with his own purposes. If, within the
deep and burning bosom of Tael he endeavored to
probe the undiscovered mysteries of nature, and
boldly ventured where no foot of man had ever before intruded; it was to enlarge his acquaintance with
the instructive volume of nature, to gain a clearer
view of the resources of the infinite and the creative,
and to explode or confound the superstitious veneration with which pagan ignorance and idolatry had
invested the spot, and rendered it one of the dark
places of the earth, the habitation of cruelty. Everywhere the same consciousness of the uncertainty of
his life, and the same tendency to religious sentiment, as the result of it, accompanied him, and was
exhibited by him; and hence the most impartial and
discerning critic of Dr. Kane's character may safely ELLSIIA   KANE   KANE.
assert that he merited in this view an  appellation
which is as rarely deserved as it is honorable in the
possession: he was a Christian hero.
Proceeding from the contemplation of this quality,
which is doubtless one of the most commendable
which any man can possess, to the consideration of
other features of Dr. Kane's character, we readily
observe, by scrutinizing his history and his deeds,
that he was confessedly ambitious of distinction.
Conscious that in all probability his life would be
short, he desired to achieve something during its
brief span which would render his name eminent
among his cotemporaries, and would transmit it un-
forgotten to the succeeding generation. This disposition displayed itself at an early age. He could
never, indeed, completely overcome his repugnance
to the study of languages, and seemed to be but
little emulous of excellence in that department; but
in mathematics and the natural sciences he possessed
not only superior capacity, but a desire and a determination to excel, even during the earliest portion
of his residence at the Virginia University. Had
not sickness prematurely terminated his career in
that institution, it is probable that the bright promise which he gave, by his progress under Professor
Rodgers, would have been amply realized. And
afterward, in every important event of his life,—in 140
his arduous studies and signal success as a physician;
in his desire to turn to good advantage his rare
opportunities of improvement and investigation in
Eastern Asia; in the determination which he exhibited in reference to the exploration of the mysterious crater of Tael; in the intense ardor which
inflamed him to take part in the hostilities between
Mexico and the United States; in the eagerness
with which he entered upon the first Arctic expedition which sailed from our shores; in the unconquerable resolution with which he followed out,
executed, and completed his second venture into
that perilous clime; and in the self-destroying industry with which he prepared his narrative of its
events for the press;—in all these leading incidents
of his career, one of his chief and controlling motives
of action was an honorable desire for distinction.
Nor does this quality deserve censure, but much
rather praise. Nothing so clearly evinces abasement
of character, and gives more infallible token of future
disgrace or oblivion, than a contempt of the opinion
of the wise and good of the community; and if we
examine the motive cause which has inspired the
most brilliant, useful, and applauded achievements
of the human intellect in all lands and ages, it will
clearly appear that this same honorable ambition
constituted a large and decisive element in it. ELISHA  KENT  KANK.
Every observer of Dr. Kane's career has been
struck with the singular restlessness, the persistent
pertinacity, with which he pursued one object of
usefulness and ambition after another. The key to
this strange mystery is to be found in the precarious
state of his health, and in the peculiarity of the
disease which afflicted him. He was constantly
threatened with an enlargement of the heart, resulting from the too great nourishment to which
that organ in his instance was subjected. In such
cases inactivity is death; motion, excitement, and
fatigue are life. There is no doubt that his constant
activity prolonged his existence for some years; and
had not the peculiar nature of his pursuits entailed
upon him other diseases in addition to his primeval
one, his journeyings by land and sea, his explorations, conflicts, and convulsive enterprises, would
have effectually contributed to the preservation of
his life.
Dr. Kane's mental acquisitions, especially in his
favorite departments, were accurate, extensive, and
rich. He had remedied his deficiencies in classical
studies, in a great measure, at a later period. He had
acquired the knowledge of a foreign language even
during the uneasy and uncomfortable vicissitudes
of a sea-voyage. But his scientific attainments were
of a high order.    He deserved even at his early age 142
!  'I'i
the honorable title of xSavant; and, had he lived,
those academical honors and distinctions which such
eminence merits, and generally secures, would probably very soon have been conferred upon him. His
published works furnish the most abundant proof
of his scientific abilities. We have already spoken
of the superior merit of his narratives of his Arctic
expeditions, into whose rich and instructive pages
no competent reader can look without clearly observing repeated indications of the hand of a master,
whose works combine together in harmonious proportion the brilliant descriptions of a Taylor, the
scientific details of a Humboldt, and the romantic
adventures of a Livingstone.
The results actually accomplished by Dr. Kane
during the few years of his existence are almost unparalleled. If we consider the amount of physical
and mental labor, of active and sedentary toil, which
he accomplished during the thirty-seven years of his
life, it may well excite astonishment. He had visited
and examined the four grand divisions of the earth.
He had acquired a name and a place among the
eminent members of the medical profession. He
had made himself known by important and gallant
military services. He twice visited and explored the
most dangerous and difficult quarter of the globe.
And he produced two large and standard works in ELISHA  KENT KANE.
the literature of scientific travel and discovery. Few
parallels to so great activity and to such valuable
results, accomplished at so early an age, can be produced in our history. It was exceeded only by the
memorable career and the transcendent genius of
Alexander Hamilton. With such a beginning, it
may very naturally be supposed that, had Dr. Kane
lived, the great promise held out by his early manhood would have been amply fulfilled; and it would
probably have become the privilege of his admirers
eventually to have characterized him as the Ameri-
ean Humboldt.
I Only a single incident occurred in connection with
the career of Dr. Kane, which has elicited from the
public a doubtful sentiment, and has occasioned
differences of opinion as to its propriety. This was
his attempt to punish the desertion of Godfrey, one
of his crew, by inflicting the penalty of death
usually attendant on that crime. Some assert that
this act was necessary, justifiable, and honorable,
some, that it was illegal, vindictive, and murderous.
We cannot conclude Dr. Kane's biography to better
purpose than by presenting a full statement of the
facts in reference to this important episode in his
In August, 1854, after the Arctic expedition commanded by Dr. Kane had been absent nearly two 144
years, and before the horrors of their second winter
began to close around them, some of the crew became terrified at the idea of remaining in their icy
home; they thought that it would be impossible to
survive the rigors which they would be compelled to
undergo; and believed that they might yet safely
make their escape to the nearest Esquimaux settlements. To these opinions and to this purpose Dr.
Kane was resolutely opposed. He called a meeting
of the officers and crew; stated to them his views;
and gave the dissatisfied men permission to carry
out their intention, if they chose so to do. Eight
persons out of seventeen determined to remain: the
rest preferred to attempt an escape before the approaching rigors of winter should render it impossible.    Among this number was William Godfrey.
During the progress of several succeeding months,
all those who had undertaken to escape returned
to the brig, after having endured the utmost hardships of exposure, hunger, and sickness. They
gladly embraced the shelter and support which
the vessel afforded, in preference to perishing upon
the frozen and uninhabited wastes over which
their proposed journey lay. By returning to the
brig, it must be manifest to every rational observer
that they voluntarily resumed the relations which
had previously existed between the commander and ELISHA KENT KANE.
his crew. In the absence of any new contract on
the subject, the continuance of the pre-existent one
would be implied, both by common sense, and by
the arbitrary principle of law; for Dr. Kane was the
acknowledged commander of the vessel; on him
rested all the responsibility of her fate; to him had
beer\ intrusted the lives and safety of the crew; by
leaving the vessel the men had only suspended,
with the commander's permission, their legal relations with him; and by again returning within his
jurisdiction, they again placed themselves, ipso facto,
under his authority. For no one will for a moment
assert that, by any perversion of law or reason, any
other co-ordinate authority than his could be allowed
to exist on board the vessel; or that an imperium
in imperio could be established there by any possible
means. If a division of authority were a thing in
any respect or degree allowable under such circumstances, where was the encroachment to end ? where
was the line of separation to be drawn ? It is self-
evident that such a policy would have inevitably
entailed discord, conflict, and finally mutual destruction ; and the dissolution of all order, security,
and success in attaining the purposes of the expedition would have ensued. When, therefore, those
who deserted in August, 1854, returned to the vessel, they did so from necessity, and they voluntarily
13 i
placed themselves under the only jurisdiction which
there existed, or could exist, not only by force of
law, but also by reason of the natural necessity of
self-preservation under which the commander and
his men rested.
Thus matters stood when, in March, 1855, Dr.
Kane discovered among his crew the first symptoms
of a mutiny. Godfrey and Blake were detected
frequently whispering mysteriously together; and
after a careful scrutiny of their movements for some
days, the commander came to the deliberate conviction that they were preparing to desert. The
event clearly established the truth of this suspicion.
On the 20th of March they were actually detected,
as they were equipped and about to escape over the
side of the vessel. The accomplishment of their
purpose was, for the moment, defeated. They confessed their intention, asked for forgiveness, were forgiven, and in an hour afterward Godfrey succeeded
in deserting. As a matter of course, his leaving
icithoui the consent of his commander was a very
different act from that of the previous occasion,
when Dr. Kane gave his written permission to all who
might wish to leave.
Godfrey immediately proceeded to the nearest
Esquimaux settlement, at Etah, ninety miles distant, where he continued to reside for some time. ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
Dr.#Kane apprehended that it was his purpose to
procure from Hans, the chief Esquimaux friend of
the expedition, the only dog-sledge which the settlement possessed, and travel southward with it. The
services of this dog-sledge were indispensable to the
existence of the crew of the Advance; for by its
means Hans was occasionally able to convey to them
some fresh walrus-meat. After enjoying himself
for some time at Etah, Godfrey returned to the
vicinity of the deserted vessel in possession of the
identical dog-sledge whose assistance was so inesti-
mable. With it he brought some fresh provisions
for the scurvy-eaten crew. This act was in itself
very commendable; but criminal justice knows
nothing of set-off"; and the crimes of desertion and
mutiny cannot be excused or justified by an act of
benevolence and generosity. The example of Godfrey in boldly defying the authority under whose
control the expedition had been placed; the probability that he had returned to the brig in order to
entice his former confederate away; his evil counsel
and influence upon the Esquimaux at Etah, by
which they might in future be rendered hostile to the
members of the expedition, and refuse them further
indispensable supplies; these grave considerations
much overbalanced the trivial weight of a single act 148
of generosity in conveying some food to the starving adventurers.
In truth, the future safety of the expedition depended upon the recapture of Godfrey, or upon the
signal punishment of his mutiny. Accordingly,
when he approached the vessel, and his presence
was discovered, he was ordered by the commander
to come on board. Neither threats nor persuasions
produced any effect upon him. During a short interval which ensued, in which Dr. Kane attempted
to procure the necessary irons with which to restrain him, he turned and fled. Then it was that,
while he was still within practicable range, Dr.
Kane sent a bullet vainly whizzing past his head.
The irons in question were indispensable, inasmuch
as the crew were all so much disabled with scurvy
at that time, that it would have been impossible for
them to control Godfrey without some additional
Such are the unvarnished facts which appertained
to this transaction. The justification of Dr. Kane
in the premises must be clearly evident to every
impartial observer; especially when the bearings of
the great law of self-preservation in the case are
taken into consideration; for the commander greatly
feared the influence which Godfrey might exert
upon his indispensable allies at Etah.    It is also ELISHA  KENT  KANE.
worthy of remark that, among the many labored
reviews which have appeared of Dr. Kane's Narrative of his expedition, in which all the preceding
facts are minutely and boldly described by him, only
a single journal of eminence has taken an unfavorable or a censorious view of his attempt to punish
this dangerous defiance of established and essential
authority on the part of the deserter.*
Having thus surveyed the life, described the
genius, and vindicated the fame of this remarkable
man, we may fitly conclude our task by quoting an
admirable passage from that polished and classical
eulogy which Christian eloquence has so impressively uttered over his tomb:
" Elisha Kent Kane, a name now to be pronounced
in the simple dignity of history, was bred in the
lap of science and trained in the school of peril, that
he might consecrate himself to a philanthropic purpose to which so young he has fallen a. martyr. The
story of his life is already a fireside tale. Multitudes, in admiring fancy, have retraced his footprints. Now, that that brief career is closed in
death, we recur to it with a mournful fondness, from.
* See the North British Review for January, 1857. The article
was republished in the American Eclectic Magazine, edited by W. H.
BiJw $11, in the April number, 1857.
13* 150
the daring exploits which formed the pastime of his
youth, to the graver tasks to which he brought his
developed manhood. Though born to ease and
elegance, when but a young student, used to academic tastes and honors, we see him breaking away
from the refinements of life into the rough paths of
privation and danger. Through distant and varied
regions we follow him in his pursuit of scientific
discovery and adventure. On the borders of China,
within the unexplored depths of the crater of Luzon,
in India and Ceylon, in the islands of the Pacific,
by the sources of the Nile, amid the frowning
sphinxes of Egypt and the classic ruins of Greece,
along the fevered coast of Africa, on the embattled
plains of Mexico, we behold him everywhere blending the enthusiasm of the scholar with the daring
of the soldier and the research of the man of science.
The nation takes him to its heart with patriotic
pride. In hopeful fancy, a still brighter career is
pictured before him,—when, alas! the vision, while
yet it dazzles, dissolves in tears. We awake to the
sense of a loss which no contemporary at his age
could occasion."*
* See Funeral Discourse delivered by Rev. Charles W. Shields, in
the Second Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, on the occasion of Dr.
Kane's obsequies.
John Charles Fremont was born in Savannah,
Georgia, in January, 1813. He was the eldest son
of a French emigrant of the same name, who had
fled to the New World from the destructive and
terrific storms of the first French Revolution,—and
Ann Beverly Whiting, a native of Gloucester county,
Virginia, whose family, belonging to the most
respectable and aristocratic circle in the State, was
related to that of George Washington. Fremont's
father died in 1818, and the widowed mother then
removed to Charleston, South Carolina, which city
was destined to be the scene of the youthful sports
and studies of one of the boldest and most gifted of
American Explorers.
Fremont's first opportunities of mental improvement were obtained in the office of Mr. Mitchell, a
151 152
distinguished attorney of Charleston. But soon his
marked displays of ability and of progress induced
his benefactor to place him under the tuition of a
professional instructor, Dr. Robertson, who at that
time conducted a select school in the capital of the
State. Under this tutor Fremont's progress was
very remarkable, and has been commemorated by a
labored panegyric from the pen of his venerable instructor. His subsequent connection with Charleston
College is s$id to have been suspended by his ardent
attachment to a young lady of West Indian birth;
nor could either encouragements or threats dissolve
the potent spell which her transcendent beauty
had cast upon him. His neglect of his studies at
length procured his expulsion from the institution,—
although at a subsequent period that stigma was
This misfortune produced no permanent injury to
his prospects. With the elastic power which youth
and genius alone possess, Fremont soon began to
appreciate the importance of devoting his energies
to some settled plan of life. He commenced to
teach mathematics to a few youths of his acquaintance, and he also took charge of a regular evening
school. In 1833, an opportunity occurred in which
he could employ his talents and attainments in a
higher and more extended sphere.   The sloop-of- JOHN  0. FREMONT.
wac Natchez was sent by Jackson to the port of
Charleston, to aid in suppressing the movements
and the resistance of the famous Nullifiers; and
Fremont obtained the appointment of teacher of
mathematics on board of that vessel. He was then
just twenty years of age. During two years and a
half he traveled with those who had been placed
under his tuition during the cruise of the ship.
On his return from this expedition, Fremont resolved to devote his attention to the science of surveying and railroad-engineering. He made his first
attempt in the examination of the projected route
of the railway between Charleston and Augusta.
In the execution of this task he explored a large
portion of South Carolina and Tennessee; and
amid the wild and rugged scenery which surrounded
his path, he first acquired a fondness for those
gigantic monuments and stupendous solitudes of
nature among which, afterward, in a far-distant
sphere, his chief triumphs and most remarkable
achievements were destined to lie. Having finished
his task here, he entered upon anpther reconnoissance
of a portion of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, in company with a body of Cherokee Indians.
The dreary months of the winter passed away in the
execution of this work; and in the ensuing spring
he proceeded to explore the waters and the territo- Hrf
111 It
ries of the Upper Mississippi, under the guidance
of M. Nicollet, a French savan of ability and distinction.
The years of 1838 and 1839 were employed by
Fremont in the active duties of his appointment.
He explored the greater part of the vast region
lying between the Missouri and the upper rivers.
After his return, a year was occupied in preparing
for publication the abundant materials which his
extended and acute observation had placed at his
command. A labored narrative, accompanied with
maps and illustrations, was completed,—to the accuracy and value of which Fremont's labors contributed no insignificant share. In 1841, he received
an order from Government to make a thorough
examination of the river Des Moines, in Iowa,—on the
banks of which the Fox and Sac Indians still retained their simple and primeval abodes. He successfully performed his task; and immediately on
his return to Washington he married the daughter
of Senator Benton, of Missouri, to whom he had
been for some time engaged. The ardent and
youthful lovers thus united their destinies, in spite
of the most strenuous opposition of the parents of
the beautiful and determined bride.
A few months only were appropriated by the
happy pair to the enjoyment of hymeneal bliss; for JOHN C FREMONT.
Frejnont had already been led to entertain large and
expansive views in reference to the importance and
grandeur of scientific explorations throughout the
immense territories of the West; and he was eager
to commence the realization of his glowing conceptions. He had already caught a glimpse of the high
sphere and destiny for which his rare talents fitted
him. The exploration, the settlement, the civilization of the vast territories of the remoter West constitute one of those magnificent and gorgeous transformations which are inherent in the progress and
history of this continent; and those capacious and
sagacious minds which are able to grasp the full
grandeur of the conception appreciate the importance,
as well as the difficulty and the glory, of its realization. The intellect of Fremont was one of these.
He perceived the inevitable destiny reserved in the
future for this portion of an almost boundless continent ; he saw that with advancing time the teeming and enterprising millions who then crowded the
Atlantic States would burst through their original
confines, and, like the multitudinous waves of the
ocean, would rush forth, swelling over mountains,
plains, and valleys, until their advancing billows
would spread themselves out at last over the expansive shores of the Pacific cteep. He resolved to devote
his talents and energies to the accomplishment of 156
the preliminary steps which were necessary to the
fulfilment of this destiny; and to explore, define,
and estimate the mighty realms which, though
fated soon to become the triumphant highway
of great nations, remained at that period a mysterious and unfamiliar solitude.
Impressed with these grand conceptions, Mr.
Fremont, early in May, 1842, applied to Colonel
Abert, the able chief of the Topographical Corps
at Washington, for permission to explore the frontier lying beyond the Mississippi, together with the
Rocky Mountains,—and especially that portion
which lay in the vicinity of the South Pass; with
particular reference to obtaining information in
reference to the most suitable and convenient route
to be selected for the line of emigrant-travel across
the mountains. By the end of May, permission
had been granted and the necessary preparations
completed. The indispensable philosophical instruments, arms, ammunition, and stores were provided,
and twenty-five voyageurs were selected to accompany the bold adventurer in his daring and dangerous journey.
Fremont pursued his route along the bed of the
Platte River and carefully explored the famous
South Pass. He thence proceeded to the Wind
River Peak of the Rocky Mountains, and returned JOHN  0.  FREMONT.
by way of the Loup fork of the Platte River. Many
thrilling incidents and perilous escapes attended
his progress during this expedition. At Fort Laramie, hundreds of miles from the extreme limits
of civilization, he found himself surrounded by
hostile and treacherous Indians. Destruction seemed
to threaten his farther advance. The boldest and
most experienced guides warned him not to continue his journey. Even "Kit Carson," whose
fortitude and heroism have long been famous amid
the primeval solitudes and imminent perils of the
remoter West, expressed the opinion that the state
of the country through which they proposed to
travel was exceedingly dangerous. But nothing
could deter the daring adventurer from the prosecution of his appointed work. While dining
at Fort Platte, a party of hostile Indians came
in, who endeavored to persuade the travellers not
to venture farther. A conference was held with
them. Complaints of hostility and aggression were
made on both sides. One of the tawny braves,
named the BulVs Tail, was chief spokesman for the
savages, and declaimed with no mean energy and
effect respecting the injuries and the encroachments
of the whites. The council was at last abruptly
broken up, and Fremont determined to advance,
regardless of the apprehensions which had already
14 158
1 ii
been excited. The event justified his determination. The Indians, overawed by his resolution
and self-reliance, and dreading the superior efficiency of the fire-arms of the party, assailed them
no more.
Fremont's route lay among the rugged peaks
of the Rocky Mountains, which he thoroughly
explored. He carefully made observations with
the barometer and with the scientific instruments
with which he was provided. He ascended, after
infinite labor and risk, the lofty summit of the
Wind River Peak, the highest eminence of the
Rocky Mountains, which had never before been
trodden by the adventurous foot of man. It rises
nearly fourteen thousand feet above the level of
the sea; and the view which greeted his eye from
this magnificent elevation was as extended and as
sublime as the imagination of man can conceive.
Toward the west, innumerable lakes and streams
poured their abundant waters toward the bosom of
the Pacific and the Gulf of California. In another
direction the pellucid fountains glittered to his view
from which flowed the sources of the great Missouri
River. To the north, an endless array of snowy
mountains stretched away in the distance. Nearer
at hand, the rugged and diversified outlines of the
neighboring crags and  eminences appeared more JOHN  C FREMONT.
distinctly. Fremont stood on a point which towered
three thousand five hundred feet above all the surrounding objects. The rocky apex of the mountain
he found to be composed of gneiss. On that summit he made various scientific observations, and at
length descended from his perilous position without
accident. His only companion during this aeriel
excursion was a summer bee, the welcome pioneer
of civilization, which, as the bold explorer was
gazing from the summit upon the distant and diversified realms beneath him, came within his friendly
grasp, borne along upon the highest breezes of the
Rocky Mountains.
This memorable ascent and its accompanying
incidents deserve to be narrated in the vivid language of the explorer himself:—
"When we had secured strength for the day
(August 15) by a hearty breakfast, we covered what
remained, which was enough for one meal, with
rocks, in order that it might be safe from any marauding bird, and, saddling our mules, turned our
faces once more toward the peaks. This time we
determined to proceed quietly and cautiously, deliberately resolved to accomplish our object if it were
within the compass of human means. We were of
opinion that a long defile which lay to the left of
yesterday's route would lead us to the foot of the i
main peak. Our mules had been refreshed by the
fine grass in the little ravine at the Island camp,
and we intended to ride up the defile as far as possible, in order to husband our strength for the main
ascent. Though this was a fine passage, still, it was
a defile of the most rugged mountains known, and
we had many a rough and steep slippery place to
cross before reaching the end. In this place the
sun rarely shone; snow lay along the border of the
small stream which flowed through it, and occasional icy passages made the footing of the mules
very insecure, and the rocks and ground were moist
with the trickling waters in this spring of mighty
rivers. We soon had the satisfaction to find ourselves riding along the huge wall which forms the
central summits of the chain. There at last it rose
by our sides, a nearly perpendicular wall of granite,
terminating two thousand to three thousand feet
above our heads in a serrated line of broken, jagged
cones. We rode on until we came almost immediately below the main peak, which I denominated
the Snow Peak, as it exhibited more snow to the
eye than any of the neighboring summits. Here
were three small lakes of a green color, each of
perhaps a thousand yards in diameter, and apparently very deep. These lay in a kind of chasm,
and, according to the barometer, we had attained JOHN C. FREMONT.
Dut-a few hundred feet above the island lake. The
barometer here stood at 20.450, attached thermometer 70°. W
"We managed to get our mules up to a little
bench about a hundred feet above the lakes, and
turned them loose to graze. During our rough
ride to this place they had exhibited a wonderful
surefootedness. Parts of the defile were filled with
angular, sharp fragments of rock, three or four and
eight or ten feet cubic; and among these they had
worked their way, leaping from one narrow point to
another, rarely making a false step, and giving us
no occasion to dismount. Having divested ourselves of every unnecessary encumbrance, we commenced the ascent. This time, like experienced
travellers, we did not press ourselves, but climbed
leisurely, sitting down so soon as we found breath
beginning to fail. At intervals we reached places
where a number of springs gushed from the rocks,
and about one thousand eight hundred feet above
the lakes came to the snow-line. From this point
our progress was uninterrupted climbing. Hitherto
I had worn a pair of thick moccasins, with soles of
parflSche, but here I put on a light, thin pair, which
I had brought for the purpose, as now the use of
our toes became necessary to a further advance. I
availed myself of a sort of comb of the mountain,
L 14*
i: ->. 162
which stood against the wall like a buttress, and
which the wind and the solar radiation, joined to
the steepness of the smooth rock, had kept almost
entirely free from snow. Up this I made my way
rapidly. Our cautious method of advancing in the
outset had spared my strength; and, with the exception of a slight disposition to headache, I felt no
remains of yesterday's illness. In a few minutes
we reached a point where the buttress was overhanging, and there was no other way of surmounting the difficulty than by passing around one side
of it, which was the face of a vertical precipice of
several hundred feet.
"Putting hands and feet in the crevices between
the blocks, I succeeded in getting over it, and, when
I reached the top, found my companions in a small
valley below. Descending to them, we continued
climbing, and in a short time reached the crest. I
sprang upon the summit, and another step would
have precipitated me into an immense snow-field
five hundred feet below. To the edge of this field
was a sheer icy precipice; and then, with a gradual
fall, the field sloped off" for about a mile, until it
struck the foot of another lower ridge. I stood on
a narrow crest, about three feet in width, with an
inclination of about 20° N. 51° E. As soon as I had
gratified the first feeling of curiosity, I descended, JOHN C FREMONT.
and each man ascended in his turn; for I would
only allow one at a time to mount the unstable and
precarious slab, which it seemed a breath would
hurl into the abyss below. We mounted the barometer in the snow of the summit, and, fixing a
ramrod in a crevice, unfurled the national flag to
wave in the breeze where never flag waved before.
During our morning's ascent, we had met no sign
of animal life except the small sparrow-like bird
already mentioned. A stillness the most profound,
and a terrible solitude, forced themselves constantly
on the mind as the great features of the place.
Here, on the summit, where the stillness was absolute, unbroken by any sound, and the solitude complete, we thought ourselves beyond the region of
animated life; but while we were sitting on the
rock, a solitary bee (bromus, the humble-bee) came
winging his flight from the eastern valley, and lit
on the knee of one of the men.
"It was a strange place—the icy rock and the
highest peak of the Rocky Mountains—for a lover
of warm sunshine and flowers; and we pleased
ourselves with the idea that he was the first of his
species to cross the mountain-barrier,—a solitary
pioneer to foretell the advance of civilization. I
believe that a moment's thought would have made
us let him continue his way unharmed; but we i
carried out the law of this country, where all animated nature seems at war, and, seizing him immediately, put him in at least a fit place,—in the leaves
of a large book, among the flowers we had collected
on our way. The barometer stood at 18.293, the
attached thermometer at 44°; giving for the elevation of this summit thirteen thousand five hundred
and seventy feet above the Gulf of Mexico, which
may be called the highest flight of the bee. It is
certainly the highest known flight of that insect.
From the description given by Mackenzie of the
mountains where he crossed them, with that of a
French officer still farther to the north, and Colonel
Long's measurements to the south, joined to the
opinion of the oldest traders of the country, it is
presumed that this is the highest peak of the Rocky
Mountains. The day was sunny and bright, but a
slight shining mist hung over the lower plains,
which interfered with our view of the surrounding
country. On one side we overlooked innumerable
lakes and streams, the spring of the Colorado of
the Gulf of California, and on the other was the
Wind River Valley, where were the heads of the
Yellowstone branch of the Missouri; far to the
north, we just could discover the snowy heads of the
Trois Tetons, where were the source of the Missouri
and Columbia Rivers; and at the southern extremity JOHN C. FREMONT.
of #the ridge, the peaks were plainly visible among
which were some of the springs of the Nebraska or
Platte River. Around us, the whole scene had one
main striking feature, which was that of terrible
convulsion. Parallel to its length, the ridge was
split into chasms and fissures, between which rose
the thin lofty walls, terminated with slender minarets and columns. According to the barometer, the
little crest of the wall on which we stood was three
thousand five hundred and seventy feet above that
place, and two thousand seven hundred and eighty
above the little lakes at the bottom, immediately at
pur feet. Our camp at the Two Hills (an astronomical station) bore south 3° east, which, with a
bearing afterward obtained from a fixed position,
enabled us to locate the peak. The bearing of the
Trois Tilons was north 50° west, and the direction
of the central bridge of the Wind River Mountains
south 39° east.
"The summit-rock was gneiss, succeeded by
sienitic gneiss. Sienite and feldspar succeeded in
our descent to the snow-line, where we found a
feldspathic granite. I had remarked that the noise
produced by the explosion of our pistols had the
usual degree of loudness, but was not in the least
prolonged, expiring almost instantaneously. Having
now made what observations our means afforded,
- -■■■■ 166
we proceeded to descend. We had accomplished
an object of laudable ambition, and beyond the
strict order of our instructions. We had climbed
the loftiest peak of the Rocky Mountains, and
looked down upon the snow a thousand feet below,
and, standing where never human foot had stood
before, felt the exultation of first explorers. It was
about two o'clock when we left the summit; and
when we reached the bottom the sun had already
sunk behind the wall and the day was drawing to a
close. It would have been pleasant to have lingered
here and on the summit longer; but we hurried
away as rapidly as the ground would permit, for it
was an object to regain our party as soon as possible,
not knowing what accident the next hour might
bring forth.
| We reached our deposit of provisions at nightfall. Here was not the inn which awaits the tired
traveller on his return from Mont Blanc, or the
orange-groves of South America, with their refreshing juices and soft fragrant air; but we found our
little cache of dried meat and coffee undisturbed.
Though the moon was bright, the road was full
of precipices, and the fatigue of the day had been
great. We therefore abandoned the idea of rejoining our friends, and lay down on the rock, and, in
spite of the cold, slept soundly." JOHN  C. FREMONT.
"August 24.—We started before sunrise, intending to breakfast at Goat Island. Mr. Preuss accompanied me, and with us were five of our best
men. Here appeared no scarcity of water; and
we took on board, with various instruments and
baggage, provisions for ten or twelve days. We
paddled down the river rapidly, for our little craft
was light as a duck on the water; and the sun had
been some time risen, when we heard before us a
hollow roar, which we supposed to be that of a fall,
of which we had heard a vague rumor, but whose
exact locality no one had been able to describe to
us. We were approaching a ridge, through which
the river passes by a place called 'canon,' (pronounced canyon,) a Spanish word signifying a piece
of artillery, the barrel of a gun, or any kind of
tube, and which, in this country, has been adopted
to describe the passage of a river between perpendicular rocks of great height, which frequently
approach each other so closely overhead as to form
a kind of tunnel over the stream, which foams
along below, half choked up by fallen fragments.
"We passed three cataracts in succession, where
perhaps one hundred feet of smooth water intervened, and finally, with a shout of pleasure at our
success, issued from our tunnel into open day
beyond.    We were so delighted with the perform-
ism* 168
ance of our boat, and so confident in her powers,
that we would not have hesitated to leap a fall of
ten feet with her. We put to shore for breakfast at
some willows on the right bank, immediately below
the mouth of the canon; for it was now eight
o'clock, and we had been working since daylight,
and were all wet, fatigued, and hungry.
"We re-embarked at nine o'clock, and in about
twenty minutes reached the next canon. Landing
on a rocky shore at its commencement, we ascended
the ridge to reconnoitre. Portage was out of the
question. So far as we could see, the jagged rocks
pointed out the course of the canon, on a wending
line of seven or eight miles. It was simply a narrow,
dark chasm in the rock; and here the perpendicular
faces were much higher than in the previous pass,—
being at this end two hundred to three hundred, and
farther down, as we afterward ascertained, five hundred feet in vertical height. Our previous success had
made us bold, and we determined again to run the
cailon. Every thing was secured as firmly as possible,
and, having divested ourselves of the greater part of
our clothing, we pushed into the stream. To save our
chronometer from accident, Mr. Preuss took it and
attempted to proceed along the shore on the masses
of rock, which in places were piled up on either
side; but, after he had walked about five minutes, JOHN C FREMONT.
every thing like shore disappeared, and the vertical
wall came squarely down into the water. He therefore waited until we came up. An ugly pass lay
before us. We had made fast to the stern of the
boat a strong rope about fifty feet long, and three
of the men clambered along among the rocks and
with this rope let her down slowly through the pass.
In several places high rocks lay scattered about in
the channel; and in the narrows it required all our
strength and skill to avoid staving the boat on the
sharp points. In one of these the boat proved a
little too broad, and stuck fast for an instant, while
the water flew over us: fortunately, it was but for
an instant, as our united strength forced her immediately through. The water swept overboard only
a sextant and a pair of saddle-bags. I caught the
sextant as it passed by me, but the saddle-bags
became the prey of the whirlpools. We reached
the place where Mr. Preuss was standing, took him
on board, and, with the aid of the boat, put the
men with the rope on the succeeding pile of rocks.
We found this passage much worse than the previous one, and our position was rather a bad one.
To go back was impossible; before us the cataract
was a sheet of foam, and, shut up in the chasm by
the rocks, which in some places seemed almost to
meet overhead, the roar of water was deafening.
—; if
We pushed of! again; but, after making a little
distance, the force of the current became too great
for the men on shore, and two of them let go the
rope. Lajeunesse, the third man, hung on, and was
jerked head-foremost into the river from a rock
about twelve feet high; and down the boat shot
like an arrow, Basil following us in the rapid current, and exerting all his strength to keep in mid-
channel,—his head only seen occasionally, like a black
spot in the white foam. How far he went I do not
exactly know, but we succeeded in turning the boat
into an eddy below. 'Ore DieuV said Basil Lajeunesse, as he arrived immediately after us; 'je crois
bien que j'ai nage un demi mille.1 He had owed his
life to his skill as a swimmer, and I determined to
take him and the two others on board and trust to
skill and fortune to reach the other end in safety.
We placed ourselves on our knees, with the short
paddles in our hands, the most skilful boatman
being at the bow, and again we commenced our
rapid descent.
"We cleared rock after rock, and shot past fall
after fall, our little boat seeming to play with the
cataract. We became flushed with success and
familiar with the danger, and, yielding to the excitement of the occasion, broke forth together into
a Canadian boat-song.    Singing, or rather shouting,
we dashed along, and were, I believe, in the midst
of the chorus, when the boat struck a concealed
rock immediately at the foot of a fall, which whirled
her over in an instant. Three of our men could not
swim, and my first feeling was to assist them and
save some of our effects; but a sharp concussion or
two convinced me that I had not yet saved myself.
A few strokes brought me into an eddy, and I landed
on a pile of rocks on the left side. Looking around,
I saw that Mr. Preuss had gained the shore on the
same side, about twenty yards below; and a little
climbing and swimming soon brought him to my
side. On the opposite side, against the wall, lay
the boat, bottom up; and Lambert was in the act
of saving Descoteaux, whom he had grasped by the
hair, and who could not swim. 'Ldche pas,' said
he, as I afterward learned,—'ldche pas, cher frlre'
'Grains pas,1 was the reply; 'je mfen vais mourir avant
que de te lacher.' Such was the reply of courage and
generosity in the danger. For a hundred yards
below, the current was covered with floating books
and boxes, bales and blankets, and scattered articles
of clothing; and so strong and boiling was the
stream, that even our heavy instruments, which
were all in cases, kept on the surface, and the
sextant, circle, and the long, black box of the telescope, were in view at once.   For a moment I was 172
somewhat disheartened. All our books, almost
every record of the journey, our journals and registers of astronomical and barometrical observations, had been lost in a moment. But it was no
time to indulge in regrets; and I immediately set
about endeavoring to save something from the
wreck. Making ourselves understood as well as
possible by signs, (for nothing could be heard in the
roar of waters,) we commenced our operations. Of
every thing on board, the only article that had been
saved was my double-barrelled gun, which Desco-
teaux had caught and clung to with drowning
tenacity. The men continued down the river on
the left bank. Mr. Preuss and myself descended
on the side we were on; and Lajeunesse, with a
paddle in his hand, jumped on the boat alone and
continued down the canon. She was now light, and
cleared every bad place with much less difficulty.
In a short time he was joined by Lambert, and the
search was continued for about a mile and a half,
which was as far as the boat could proceed in the
" Here the walls were about five hundred feet high,
and the fragments of rocks from above had choked
the river into a hollow pass but one or two feet above
the surface. Through this and the interstices of
the rock the water found its way*   Favored beyond
our expectations, all of our registers had been re*
covered, with the exception of one of my journals,
which contained the notes and incidents of travel,
and topographical descriptions, a number of scattered
astronomical observations, — principally meridian
altitudes of the sun,—and our barometrical register
west of Laramie. Fortunately, our^ other journals
contained duplicates of the most important barometrical observations which had been taken in the
mountains. These, with a few scattered notes, were
all that had been preserved of our meteorological
observation. In addition to these, we saved the
circle; and these, with a few blankets, constituted
every thing that had been rescued from the waters."
After a toilsome journey of some days, the party
reached Goat Island. On the 17th of October they
arrived at St. Louis, whence Mr. Fremont proceeded
rapidly to Washington, in order to lay the results
of his expedition before the proper authorities.
Throughout the whole extent of his journey he
had made barometrical observations, astronomical
researches, and investigations in every department
of science for which any facilities existed on his
route. The results of his labors he condensed into
a brief report of ninety pages,—a document which
may justly be denominated as a production of superior ability and great value.
15* I
Fremont's first expedition was but a precursor
and an incentive to other and more ambitious ventures. He had proved himself to be so admirably
adapted to the achievement of the most important
results, as an explorer of new and difficult regions,
that shortly after his return to Washington he was
instructed by Government to connect the explorations which he had already made, with the surveys
of the Pacific coast and Columbia River, which had
been completed by the Expedition of Captain Wilkes
to the South Seas. A party of Americans, Canadians, and Indians, thirty-nine in number, was now
placed under his command. The expedition was
well provided with arms and ammunition, with
camp-equipage and scientific instruments, and with
an abundance of stores. The route chosen by the
leader on this occasion was different from that pursued on the former: it lay along the valley of the
Kansas River, to the head of the Arkansas. By
this route the unsolved problem of a new road to
Oregon and California would receive special attention, and probably would attain a successful
Fremont started forth from the village of Kansas
in May, 1843; but scarcely had he passed the out-
skirt of civilization, when the ignoble spirit of
jealousy, which superior merit always awakens,
had already been at work at Washington, and procured the issue of orders commanding the return
of the expedition. The wife of Colonel Fremont
opened the letter which contained this unwelcome
information, and refused to despatch it after her
husband,—as she well knew the heavy and unjust
blow which its contents would inflict upon his aspiring and enthusiastic spirit; nor was he aware of the
existence of such an order until his return a year
afterward to Washington.
All that immense region of country which intervened between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific
still remained in a very great measure a terra incognita, and Fremont resolved to throw it open to
the acquaintance of mankind. He arrived at the
tide-water region of the Columbia River in November. Here was situated a station of the British
Hudson Bay Fur Company; and, while delaying
here a short period to recruit his company, he
formed his future plans.   He resolved to cross the Ii i
great unknown region by following a southeast line
from the Lower Columbia to the Upper Colorado
of the Gulf of California. He started forth in the
commencement of winter, and soon deep snows
impeded the progress of the expedition. He travelled over vast and unknown wastes, through
rugged mountains and inhospitable deserts. For,
hundreds of miles the daring adventurers climbed
amid dangerous precipices and slippery crags.
During eleven months they were never out of sight
of the snow. Hostile Indians frequently hovered
around their path. The members of the expedition
were often overcome by the perils and sufferings of
the way. Sometimes a heavily-laden mule slipped
from the verge of some dizzy cliff, and, after tumbling down for hundreds of feet between unfathomable gorges, was dashed to pieces at the bottom.
The slow and mournful procession of feeble and
starving skeletons, both of men and beasts, crawled
like a disabled serpent along the dangerous heights
and bridle-paths of their mountain way, surrounded
by the deep snows of the Sierra Nevada, and by all
the awful incidents of a wintry march amid the
rudest fastnesses and solitudes of nature. After a
perilous journey of many months, the expedition
arrived at Sutter's Settlement, in the Valley of the
Sacramento.   Thence they proceeded to San Joa- JOHN  C. FREMONT.
q n. During the progress of their journey they
e; ;lored the Great Salt Lake, the Utah Lake, the
Li rtle Salt Lake, and the mountains of the Sierra
Nrvada. During the summer portion of their
ic lrney they had navigated rapid and dangerous
ri rers with frail boats obtained from the neighboring Indians. They had travelled three thousand
ir'e hundred miles by land and water, and had explored the vast domains of Oregon and Northern
C difornia. Exposure and suffering had carried off
s< me of the boldest and strongest of the men; but
t) e gallant leader conducted the larger portion of
h b company in safety to the boundaries of Cali-
fi rnia, and thus completed a journey which, for the
d.splay of intrepid endurance, of unconquerable
determination, and of skilful management, is not
surpassed by the achievements of the most noted
conquerors or adventurers of modern times.
Some of the thrilling incidents of this expedition
are thus narrated by its intrepid commander:
"September 8.—A calm, clear day, with a sunrise-
temperature of 41°. In view of our present enterprise, a part of the equipment of the boat had been
made to consist in three air-tight bags, about three
feet long, and capable each of containing five gallons.    These had been filled with water the night
before, and were now placed in the boat, with our
If 178
a .:;!   y
I mw
i 11.
blankets and instruments, consisting of a sextant, telescope, spy-glass, thermometer, and barometer.
" We left the camp at sunrise, and had a very
pleasant voyage down the river, in which there was
generally eight or ten feet of water, deepening as
we neared the mouth in the latter part of the day.
In the course of the morning we discovered that
two of the cylinders leaked so much as to require
one man constantly at the bellows, to keep them
sufficiently full of air to support the boat. Although
we had made a very early start, we loitered so much
on the way—stopping every now and then, and
floating silently along, to get a shot at a goose or a
duck—that it was late in the day when we reached
the outlet. The river here divided into several
branches, filled with fluvials, and so very shallow
that it was with difficulty we could get the boat
along, being obliged to get out and wade. We
encamped on a low point among rushes and young
willows, where there was a quantity of drift-wood,
which served for our fires. The evening was mild
and clear: we made a pleasant bed of the young
willows; and geese and ducks enough had been
killed for an abundant supper at night and for
breakfast the next morning. The stillness of the
night was   enlivened   by millions  of water-fowl JOHN  C. FREMONT.
Latitude (by observation) 41° 11' 26", and longitude 112° 11' 30". i||f
"September 9.—The day was clear and calm; the
thermometer at sunrise at 49°. As usual with the
trappers on the eve of any enterprise, our people
had made dreams, and theirs happened to be a bad
one,—one which always preceded evil,—and consequently they looked very gloomy this morning; but
we hurried through our breakfast in order to make
an early start and have all the day before us for
our adventure. The channel in a short distance
became so shallow that our navigation was at an
end, being merely a sheet of soft mud, with a few
inches of water, and sometimes none at all, forming
the low-water shore of the lake. All this place was
absolutely covered with flocks of screaming plover.
We took off our clothes, and, getting overboard,
commenced dragging the boat,—making, by this
operation, a very curious trail, and a very disagreeable smell in stirring up the mud, as we sank above
the knee at every step. The water here was still
fresh, with only an insipid and disagreeable taste,
probably derived from the bed of fetid mud. After
proceeding in this way about a mile, we came to a
small black ridge on the bottom, beyond which the
water became suddenly salt, beginning gradually
to deepen, and the bottom was sandy and firm.   It JOHN  C FREMONT.
was a remarkable division, separating the fresh
waters of the rivers from the briny water of the
lake, which was entirely saturated with common salt.
Pushing our little vessel across the narrow boundary, we sprang on board, and at length were afloat
on the waters of the unknown sea.
"We did not steer for ^the mountainous islands,
but directed our course toward a lower one, which,
it had been decided, we should first visit, the summit of which was formed like the crater at the upper
end of Bear River Valley. So long as we could
touch the bottom with our paddles, we were very
gay; but gradually, as the water deepened, we
became more still in our frail bateau of gum cloth
distended with air and with pasted seams. Although
the day was very calm, there was a considerable
swell on the lake; and there were white patches
of foam on the surface, which were slowly moving
to the southward, indicating the set of a current in
that direction, and recalling the recollection of the
whirlpool-stories. The water continued to deepen
as we advanced,—the lake becoming almost trans
parently clear, of an extremely beautiful bright-
green color; and the spray, which was thrown into
the boat and over our clothes, was directly converted
into a crust of common salt, which covered also our
hands and arms.    'Captain,' said Carson, who for JOHN  C. FREMONT.
some time had been looking suspiciously at some
whitening appearances outside the nearest island,
\ what are those yonder ? won't you just take a look
with the glass V We ceased paddling for a moment,
and found them to be the caps of the waves that
were beginning to break under the force of a strong
breeze that was coming up the lake.
" The form of the boat seemed to be an admirable
one, and it rode on the waves like a water-bird; but,
at the same time, it was slow in its progress. When
we were little more than half-way across the reach,
two of the divisions between the cylinders gave
way, and it required the constant use of the bellows
to keep in a sufficient quantity of air. For a long
time we scarcely seemed to approach our island; but
gradually we worked across the rougher sea of the
open channel, into the smoother water under the
lee of the island, and began to discover that what
we took for a long row of pelicans ranged on the
beach were only low cliffs whitened with salt by
the spray of the waves; and about noon we reached
the shore, the transparency of the water enabling
us to see the bottom at a considerable depth.
" It was a handsome broad beach where we landed,
behind which the hill, into which the island was
gathered, rose somewhat abruptly; and a point of
rock at one end enclosed it in a sheltering way; and,
16 iff I
as there was an abundance of drift-wood along the
shore, it offered us a pleasant encampment. We
did not suffer our fragile boat to touch the sharp
rocks, but, getting overboard, discharged the baggage, and, lifting it gently out of the water, carried
it to the upper part of the beach, which was composed of very small fragments of rock.
"Among the successive banks of the beach, formed
by the action of the waves, our attention, as we
approached the island, had been attracted by one,
ten to twenty feet in breadth, of a dark-brown color.
Being more closely examined, this was found to be
composed, to the depth of seven or eight and twelve
inches, entirely of the larvae of insects, or, in common language, of the skins of worms, about the
size of a grain of oats, which had been washed up
by the waters of the lake.
"The cliffs and masses of rock along the shore
were whitened by an incrustation of salt where the
waves dashed up against them; and the evaporating
water, which had been left in holes and hollows on
the surface of the rocks, was covered with a crust
of salt about one-eighth of an inch in thickness.
It appeared strange that, in the midst of this grand
reservoir, one of our greatest wants lately had been
salt. Exposed to be more perfectly dried in the
sun, this became very white and fine, having the JOHN C FREMONT.
usual flavor of very excellent common salt, without
any foreign taste; but only a little was collected for
present use, as there was in it a number of small
black insects.
"Carrying with us the barometer and other instruments, in the afternoon we ascended to the
highest point of the island,—a bare, rocky peak, eight
hundred feet above the lake. Standing on the
summit, we enjoyed an extended view of the lake,
enclosed in a basin of rugged mountains, which
sometimes left marshy flats and extensive bottoms
between them and the shore, and in other places
came directly down into the water with bold and
precipitous bluffs. Following with our glasses the
irregular shores, we searched for some indications
of a communication with other bodies of water or
the entrance of other rivers; but the distance was
so great that we could make out nothing with
certainty. To the southward, several peninsular
mountains, three thousand or four thousand feet
high, entered the lake, appearing, so far as the
distance and our position enabled us to determine,
to be conriected by flats and low ridges with the
mountains in the rear. These are probably the
islands usually indicated on maps of this region as
entirely detached from the shore. The season of
our operations was when the waters were at their 184
lowest stage. At the season of high waters in the
spring, it is probable that the marshes and low
grounds are overflowed, and the surface of the lake
considerably greater. In several places the view
was o£ unlimited extent,—here and there a rocky
islet appearing above the water at a great distance;
and beyond, every thing was vague and undefined.
As we looked over the vast expanse of water spread
out beneath us, and strained our eyes along the
silent shores oyer which hung so much doubt and
uncertainty, and which were so full of interest to
us, I could hardly repress the almost irresistible
desire to continue our exploration; but the lengthening snow on the mountains was a plain indication
of the advancing season, and our frail linen boat
appeared so insecure that I was unwilling to trust
our lives to the uncertainties of the lake. I therefore unwillingly resolved to terminate our survey
here, and remain satisfied for the present with what
we had been able to add to the unknown geography
of the region. We felt pleasure also in remembering that we were the first who, in traditionary annals
of the country, had visited the islands, and broken,
with the cheerful sound of human voices, the lorn?
solitude of the place. From the point where we
were standing, the ground fell off on every side to
the water, giving us .a perfect view of the island, which is twelve or thirteen miles in circumference,
being simply a rocky hill, on which there is neither
water nor trees of any kind, although the Fremontia
vermicularis, which was in great abundance, might
easily be mistaken for timber at a distance." .
II i
Colonel Fremont spent the remainder of 1844
in preparing for the press the reports of the expedition which he had just completed. Early in the
ensuing spring he commenced his third great expedition, the object of whicn was to explore the interior
region known as the Greai Basin, and the maritime
country of Oregon and California. Some months
were spent by him in examining the head-waters of
the great rivers in that region, which flow in different directions into both oceans. In October, 1845,
he again reached the Great Salt Lake. He encountered many strange adventures in exploring the
country which has since become the familiar home of
the disciples of Joseph Smith, the Mormon impostor.
He travelled thence southward toward the confines
of California, and visited the tract which has since
become well known under the title of Mariposas.
At length he reached the confines of the "Great
California Valley," in which is situated the city ot
Monterey.   Here he was met by an unexpected
order from General Castro, the Mexican governor
of the territory, which had not yet become annexed
to the American Confederacy, denouncing him and
his associates as robbers and highwaymen, and commanding them to advance no farther into California.
Fremont's party then amounted to sixty men, who
were furnished with two hundred horses and an
abundance of ammunition. Castro immediately
assembled a body of troops to attack Fremont, in a
stronghold to which he had retired in a mountain
overlooking Monterey. Here he fortified himself
so effectually, and presented so formidable a front,
that Castro changed his purpose and withdrew his
forces. But Fremont had now conceived the idea
of exploring the territory of the Wah-lah-math
Indians and the Tla-math lakes, in the interior of
Oregon, which seemed to offer inviting inducements
to lead to their further examination.
On the 8th of May, Fremont commenced his journey through this romantic region filled with lofty
mountains, with placid lakes, with flowing rivers,
and with fertile plains. One of the incidents connected with this portion of his adventures deserves
to be more minutely detailed. As Fremont and his
party rode along the base of an unfrequented mountain, suddenly two horsemen appeared, approaching
in the path before them.    They were portion of a 188
guard of six American soldiers who were conducting the bearer of Government despatches to the
United States consul at Monterey; who had also
been intrusted with some letters and papers for
Fremont. These two men informed the latter that
the five persons whom they had left behind were in
very great peril of attack from the hostile Indians;
and that they themselves had hastened forward for
assistance. Fremont immediately determined to
advance to their rescue. With ten picked men he
rode sixty miles in a day, and at evening he fortunately met Lieutenant Gillespie, the object of his
search, still slowly advancing, and still unharmed.
The letters which he conveyed to Fremont ordered
him to return to California and there labor to
counteract the schemes which the British Government was then making to obtain the annexation
of that golden territory to the British crown. These
letters were accompanied with others from his wife
and mother, which were still more welcome to him.
That night which brought to the bold adventurer,
amid the distant and unknown solitudes of those
primeval mountains, such cherished missives of remembrance and affection from those whom he loved
so well, was fraught with an adventure of rare and
solemn interest, and one which wellnigh proved to
be his last.   The camp was pitched upon the shore JOHN C. FREMONT.
of one of the placid lakes which lie embosomed in the
midst of the mountains. The horses were picketed,
as usual, with long halters, near at hand, to feed
Upon the grass. The men, fourteen in number,
were distributed in companies of three around different camp-fires. A calm clear night settled down
over the wide face of nature; and Colonel Fremont
permitted all the men, wearied by the protracted
and severe journey of the day, to repose without
appointing a guard. As the night advanced, he
himself, seated by one of the fires, perused with
insatiable avidity the letters from his family which
he had received. The silence of the grave pervaded
the vast solitude around him. Toward midnight he
heard a sudden movement among the horses, which
gave evidence that some danger was near; for it is
true that the acute instincts of these brute creatures,
under such circumstances, possess a strange degree
of accuracy and truthfulness, which experienced
travellers always treat with consideration. Colonel
Fremont arose from his seat and went forth to the
horses, to discover the cause of their alarm. He
searched in vain. The dark, frowning forest around
appeared to be tenanted by no living thing; and the
light of the moon, as she smiled in silent majesty
in the far-off heavens, seemed to render all concealment and hidden danger impossible, even in the MS
'            f I
11 IIP
1 j«
leafy thickets of the trees. He returned to his
camp-fire, and apprehensive of no danger, he refused
in consequence of their long march to awaken
any of the men, Soon wearied nature began to
assert her claims even over his vigorous frame, and
he lay down to sleep. It is said to have been the
second time only, during the whole progress of his
life, in which he failed to appoint a watch during
the hours of darkness. Suddenly a heavy groan
aroused the acute ear of Kit Carson. It was the
expiring moan of a man through whose brain the
swift tomahawk was cleaving its resistless way.
Carson in an instant sprang to his feet, and in a
voice of thunder awoke the whole camp. They
had been attacked by a band of Tla-math Indians,
who had followed the company of Lieutenant Gillespie during the entire day, in order during the
hours of slumber to waylay and destroy them.
Already the bloody hatchet and the winged arrow
had done fearful work. Basil Lajeunesse, a bold
and enterprising young Frenchman, a friend and
favorite of Fremont, was already dead. An Iowa
Indian had also expired, and a Delaware Indian
was dying. It was the last groan of this unhappy
victim which had so opportunely aroused the sleeping camp. The lonely adventurers, having grasped
their ready arms, fought with the ferocity of lions JOHN  C. FREMONT.
and hurled swift destruction against their assailants.
Many of the latter were slain; and among the
corpses was found, on the following day, that of the
same Tla-math chief who but a short time before
had given Lieutenant Gillespie a salmon in token
of amity. When the morning dawned, Colonel
Fremont buried his dead so as best to conceal their
remains from violation, and then returned to the
rest of his company, carrying the wounded with
him. The escape of Fremont from death on this
occasion was very narrow; and he would have been
slain when he ventured forth to examine the horses,
had not the savages deemed it advisable to wait
until a more wholesale slaughter could be made of
the unconscious and defenceless travellers.*
Colonel Fremont, in obedience to the instructions
conveyed to him by Lieutenant Gillespie, immediately returned to California. He arrived in the
Valley of the Sacramento in May, 1846, and found
the country in an alarming and critical situation.
The Americans who then resided there were constantly assailed, and many of them had been murdered. The public domain was in process of transfer
to British subjects, and the territory of California was
* Vide the author's Life of John C. Fremont, published by Miller,
Orton & Co., New York and Auburn, 1846, pp. 25, 26. 192
about to be subjected to British protection and
British sovereignty. All the American settlers immediately joined Fremont's party. The Mexicans
were under the influence of the Picos,— three
brothers of great prominence and distinction in the
country; under whose guidance the independence
of California from Mexican rule was declared. One
of the Picos had been elected the first governor
of the enfranchised territory. This party was supported by the body of Mexican and Californian
troops who were commanded by General Castro.
Actual hostilities soon began between the force of
Colonel Fremont and that of General Castro,
Twelve of Fremont's men captured fourteen Mexicans and two hundred horses on the 11th of June.
It was the first collision which took place. The
next engagement was at Sonoma, where Fremont
captured nine brass cannon, two hundred and fifty
stand of arms, some men, and some munitions of
war. Castro then fled toward the capital, Cuidad
de los Angeles. He was rapidly pursued by Fremont with one hundred and sixty mounted riflemen. It was a hot chase of four hundred miles.
When Fremont arrived at the capital, he found it
deserted by all the civil and military authorities;
the flag of Californian independence was hauled
down and that of the United States was hoisted and JOHN  C FREMONT.
unfurled to the breeze. Commodore Stockton took
possession of the whole country as a province and
conquest of the United States; and he appointed
Colonel Fremont the governor of the territory, to
assume the functions of his office as soon as he himself should return to his squadron. Thus, during
the short period of sixty days from the commencement to the conclusion of hostilities, that rich and
golden gem was secured and firmly fixed in the
diadem which now graces the brow of the Genius
of American liberty.
Commodore Stockton, in conferring such high
powers upon Colonel Fremont, entailed upon the
latter the most serious and disagreeable consequences, which ultimately resulted in a court-martial, in an unjust conviction, and in the abandonment of the army by Fremont as a profession.
There was a conflict of jurisdiction as well as a
bitter personal rivalry between Commodore Stockton and General Kearney, as to the question of the
supreme authority in California. Each branch of
the service claimed the supremacy in the person
of its respective chief. Fremont, in the exercise
of his functions as Governor of California, was compelled to select the one or the other of the rival
commanders as his superior. After carefully examining what seemed to be the best evidence and
17 1
1 I
counsel in the case, he concluded to recognise the
superior claims of Commodore Stockton, and obeyed
his orders accordingly. This course of conduct highly
incensed General Kearney, although the latter on
several occasions had recognised the title and
authority of Colonel Fremont. During the progress
of the dispute, General Kearney ordered Fremont
not to reorganize the California battalion, and
claimed for himself the command of the entire California army. Commodore Stockton refused to yield
that command; but, after a protracted and angry
contest between the principals, fresh instructions
arrived from Washington, which settled the question
and gave the supreme military command of the territory to General Kearney. On the return of thej
latter to the United States in June, 1847, he ordered
Colonel Fremont to accompany him. When the
party arrived at Fort Leavenworth, on the 22d of
August, Fremont was placed under arrest by General Kearney, and thus conducted to Washington for
the purpose of being tried by a court-martial on
three charges,—mutiny^ disobedience of the lawful
command of a superior officer, and conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline. The^
trial continued during November and December,
1847, and January. 1848. It resulted in a verdict
of guilty on each of  the charges, and the de- JOHN C. FREMONT.
fendant was sentenced to be dismissed from the
The following extract from the narrative ;>t a
journey of eight hundred miles, performed in eight
days by Colonel Fremont, will illustrate the nature
of some of his California adventures:—
" It was at daybreak on the morning of the 22d
of March "that the party set out from La Ciudad de
los Angeles, ('the City of the Angels,') in the
southern part of Upper California, to proceed, in
the shortest time, to Monterey, on the Pacific coast,
distant full four hundred miles. The way is over a
mountainous country, much of it uninhabited, with
no other road than a trace, and many defiles to pass,
particularly the maritime defile of El Hincon, or
Punto Gordo, fifteen miles in extent, made by the
jutting of a precipitous mountain into the sea, and
which can only be passed when the tide is out and
the sea calm, and then in many places through the
waves. The towns of Santa Barbara and San Luis
Obispo, and occasional ranches, are the principal
inhabited places on the route. Each of the party
had three horses,—nine in all,—to take their turns
under the saddle. The six loose horses ran ahead,
without bridle or halter, and required some attention to keep to the track. When wanted for a
change,—say at the distance of twenty miles,—they 196
were caught by the lasso, thrown either by Don
Jesus or the servant Jacob, who, though born in
Washington, in his long expeditions with Colonel
Fremont had become as expert as a Mexican with
the lasso, as sure as the mountaineer with the rifle,
equal to either on horse or foot, and always a lad
of courage and fidelity.
"None of the horses were shod, that being a practice unknown to the Californians. The most usual
gait was a sweeping gallop. The first day they ran
one hundred and twenty-five miles, passing the San
Fernando Mountain, the defile of the Rincon, several other mountains, and slept at the hospitable
ranch of Don Thomas Robberis, beyond the town
of Santa Barbara. The only fatigue complained of
in this. day's ride was in Jacob's right arm, made
tired by throwing the lasso and using it as a whip
to keep the loose horses to the track.
"The next day they made another one hundred
and twenty-five miles, passing the formidable mountain of Santa Barbara and counting upon it the
skeletons of some fifty horses, part of near double
that number which perished in the crossing of that
terrible mountain by the California battalion on
Christmas-day, 1846, amidst a raging tempest and a
deluge of rain and cold more killing than that of
the Sierra Nevada,—the day of severest suffering, JOHN C FREMONT.
say Fremont and his men, that they have ever
passed. At sunset the party stopped to sup with
the friendly Captain Dana, and at nine at night San
Luis Obispo was reached, the home of Don Jesus,
and where an affecting reception awaited Lieutenant-
Colonel Fremont, in consequence of an incident
which occurred there that history will one day
record; and he was detained till ten o'clock in the
morning, receiving the visits of the inhabitants,
(mothers and children included,) taking a breakfast
of honor, and waiting for a relief of fresh horses to
be brought in from the surrounding country. Here
the nine horses from Los Angeles were left and
eight others taken in their place, and a Spanish boy
added to the party to assist in managing the loose
"Proceeding at the usual gait till eight at night,
and having made some seventy miles, Don Jesus,
who had spent the night before with his family and
friends, and probably with but little sleep, became
fatigued, and proposed a halt for a few hours. It
was in the valley of the Salinas ('salt river,' called
JBuena Ventura in the old maps) and the haunt of
marauding Indians. For safety during their repose
the party turned off the trace, issued through a
cation into a thick wood, and lay down, the horses
being put to grass at a short distance, with the
17* 198
Spanish boy in the saddle to watch. Sleep, when
commenced, was too sweet to be easily given up,
and it was half-way between midnight and day
when the sleepers were aroused by an estampedo
among the horses and the calls of the boy. The
cause of the alarm was soon found: not Indians,
but white bears,—this valley being their great resort, and the place where Colonel Fremont and
thirty-five of his men encountered some hundred of
them the summer before, killing thirty upon the
" The character of these bears is well known, and
the bravest hunters do not like to meet them without the advantage of numbers. On discovering the
enemy, Colonel Fremont felt for his pistols; but
Don Jesus desired him to lie still, saying that
* people could scare bears,' and immediately hallooed to them in Spanish, and they went off. Sleep
went off also; and the recovery of the horses
frightened by the bears, building a rousing fire,
making a breakfast from the hospitable supplies of
San Luis Obispo, occupied the party till daybreak,
when the journey was resumed eighty miles, and
the afternoon brought the party to Monterey.
"The next day, in the afternoon, the party set
out on their return, and, the two horses rode by
Colonel Fremont from San Luis Obispo being a JOHN C FREMONT.
present to him from Don Jesus, he (Don Jesus) desired to make an experiment of what one of them
could do. They were brothers, on a grass younger
than the other, both of the same color, (cinnamon,)
and hence called el eanalo or los canalos, (' the cinnamon' or 'the cinnamons.') The elder was to be
taken for the trial, and the journey commenced
upon him at leaving Monterey, the afternoon well
advanced. Thirty miles under the saddle done that
evening and the party stopped for the night. In
the morning the elder eanalo was again under the
saddle for Colonel Fremont, and for ninety miles he
carried him without a change and without apparent
fatigue. It was still thirty miles to San Luis Obispo,
where the night was to be passed; and Don Jesus
insisted that eanalo could do it, and so said the
horse by his looks and action. But Colonel Fremont would not put him to the trial, and, shifting
the saddle to the younger brother, the elder was
turned loose to run the remaining thirty miles without a rider. He did so, immediately taking the lead
and keeping it all the way, and entering San Luis
in a sweeping gallop, nostrils distended, snuffing
the air, and neighing with exultation at his return
to his native pastures,—his younger brother all the
time at the head of the horses under the saddle,
bearing on his bit and held in by his rider.    The I l
whole eight horses made their one hundred and
twenty miles each that day, (after thirty the evening
before,) the elder cinnamon making ninety of his
under the saddle that day, besides thirty under the
saddle the evening before; nor was there the least
doubt that he would have done the whole distance
in the same time if he had continued under the
"After a hospitable detention of another half-day
at San Luis Obispo, the party set out for Los Angeles
on the same nine horses which they had rode from
that place, and made the ride back in about the
same time they had made it up,—namely, at the
rate of one hundred and twenty-five miles a day.
" On this ride the grass on the road was the food
for the horses. At Monterey they had barley; but
these horses—meaning those trained and domesticated^
as the canalos were—eat almost any thing of vegetable food, or even drink, that their master uses, hy
whom they are petted and caressed and rarely sold.
Bread, fruit, sugar, coffee, and even wine, (like the
Persian horses,) they take from the hand of their
master, and obey with like docility his slightest
intimation. A tap of the whip on the saddle springs
them into action; the check of a thread-rein (on the
Spanish bit) would stop them."
The following letter will illustrate the difficultv JOHN  C. FREMONT.
of Colonel Fremont's position between the rival
commanders in California:—
"Ciudad de los Angelis, January 27, 1847.
"Sir:—I have the honor to be in the receipt of
your favor of last night, in which I am directed to
suspend the execution of orders which, in my capacity of military commandant of this territory, I had
received from Commodore Stockton, governor and
eommander-in-chief in California. I avail myself
of an early hour this morning to make such a reply
as the brief time allowed for reflection will enable me.
"I found Commodore Stockton in possession of
the country, exercising the functions of military
commandant and civil governor, as early as July of
last year; and shortly thereafter I received from
him the commission of military commandant, the
duties of which I immediately entered upon, and
have continued to exercise to the present moment.
"I found also, on my arrival at this place some
three or four days since, Commodore Stockton still
exercising the functions of civil and military governor, with the same apparent deference to his
rank on the part of all officers (including yourself)
as he maintained and required when he assumed
them in July last. 0
"I learned also, in conversation with you, that on
the march from San Diego, recently, to this place,
you entered upon and discharged duties implying
an acknowledgment on your part of supremacy to
Commodore Stockton.
"I feel, therefore,—with great deference to your
professional and personal character,—constrained to
say that until you and Commodore Stockton adjust
between yourselves the question of rank,—where I
respectfully think the difficulty belongs,—I shall
have to report and receive orders, as heretofore,
from the commodore.
"With considerations of high regard, I am, sir,
your obedient servant," &c. j CHAPTER IV.   /
The majority of the court which tried the charges
preferred against Colonel Fremont recommended
the defendant to the clemency of the President of
the United States, in consequence of the difficult
position in which he had been placed between two
rival officers in the United States service, and in
view, also, of the great and meritorious services
which he had previously rendered to the cause of
topographical and geographical science. President
Polk refused to confirm the finding of the court on
the first charge of mutiny, but sustained it in reference to the other two charges. At the same time, he
remitted the penalty of dismissal from the service,
ordered Fremont to be released from arrest, and to
report himself for duty. Upon the receipt of this
order from the President, Fremont immediately
sent in his resignation as lieutenant-colonel in the
army of the United States, and retired from the
service.   His reason for so doing was, that by accept-
203 204
ing the clemency of the President he would virtually
acknowledge the justice of the verdict of the court
which had examined his case and had condemned
him. Thus, on the 15th of May, 1848, in the thirty-
fourth year of his age, Colonel Fremont abandoned
the military profession, and was thenceforth free to
commence a new career in life, more congenial to
his tastes, and more productive of noble, elevating,
and remunerative results. He had already attained
the first position, and the highest eminence, as an
explorer of new and dangerous realms. His military and political services had merely suspended,
and not concluded, his labors in this high sphere of
intellectual and physical endeavor. He still wished
to demonstrate more completely the feasibility of
the grand idea which had inflamed and guided all
his previous exertions,—the practicability of uniting
the Atlantic and Pacific States of this Union by a
public highway of secure, direct, and facile travel.
This important and difficult achievement he still
might accomplish; his life had yet a worthy and an
all-absorbing aim to occupy him; he abhorred the idea
of permitting his great faculties to rust and corrode
either in ignoble indolence or in vain regrets. He
was encouraged to persevere by the high praises
which he had already received from the most distinguished and illustrious representatives of science JOHN  C. FREMONT.
in the world. The venerable Nestor of knowledge in
modern times, Alexander von Humboldt, in sending to him the "great golden medal for progress in
the sciences" from the King of Prussia, had addressed him in such language as this:—" You have
displayed a noble courage in distant expeditions,
braved all the dangers of cold and famine, enriched
all the branches of the natural sciences, and illustrated a vast country w£rich was almost entirely
unknown to us." The Geographical Society at
Berlin, at the same time, had chosen him an honorary member, at the suggestion of the illustrious
geographer, Charles Ritter; and from the Royal
Geographical Society of England he also received,
about the same period, the Founder's Medal. These
and other most honorable evidences of the fact that
his former labors had been properly appreciated
induced Fremont now to plan and execute his fourth
great expedition of discovery across the continent,
at his own expense; which proved to be the most
difficult, dangerous, and disastrous of all his adventurous journeys. This result was attributable not
to any defect or negligence of his own, but to the
ignorance or the perfidy of his guides.
Fremont commenced his fourth exploring expedition on the 19th of October, 1848. He had
determined to select his   route  along the aead-
un 1 W       ~"
waters of the Rio Grande. The reasons which conducted him to this conclusion were, because that
route had never yet been examined; and because he
had reason to believe that a practicable pass might
be discovered through the mountains at the head of
that river. Unusual daggers attended this journey;
for it lay through the territories of the hostile
Apaches, Utahs, Navahoes, Camanches, and other
savage tribes of Indians, who were then engaged in
actual hostilities against the United States. The
great dangers and difficulties of this journey, in
fact, rendered it one of the most remarkable expeditions of modern times. The company consisted
of thirty-three picked men, who were provided with
one hundred and twenty mules, and with the necessary ammunition and stores. By the end of November, the adventurers arrived at the Pueblos, on
the Upper Arkansas, at the foot of the sierra along
which lay his route. His direct course was to effect
a passage across the difficult and extensive ranges
of mountains which now lay before him, and which
stretched their multitudinous heads of snow above
him far away in the distance. By the aid of his
telescope, Fremont thought he could discover the gap
or depression in the mountains which, as the most
experienced hunters and explorers of the West assured him, marked the locality of the pass through JOHN C FREMONT.
which his journey lay. He was confirmed in this
opinion—which afterward proved to be totally erroneous—by the judgment of the chief guide,
whom he had selected and employed at Pueblo San
At length, on the 30th of November, the company
commenced to ascend the mountains. They were
impeded by the deep snow, and were often assailed
by wintry storms. On the first day they reached
an elevation at which all vegetation ceased: they
were unable to obtain any wood for fire, and the
cold was intense. During the night which ensued,
the mules were saved from being frozen to death
only by the most strenuous and unremitting exertions of the men. The snow still fell; and the next
day they were able to advance only by sending forward a division with mauls, for the purpose of breaking down a road in the snow for those who followed.
At length, after a toilsome and painful journey of
many hours, the summit of the mountain was
reached. It was covered with vast masses of ice
and rocks. A more gloomy and repulsive scene
could not be imagined than that which there presented itself. The winds swept through the surrounding gorges and frozen abysses with appalling
fury; and, as from his lofty perch the bold leader of
the expedition gazed around him, he beheld nothing.
Pf 208
as for as the eye could reach, except the snowy sum
mits and the dismal wastes of the mountains stretch
ing away, and lying in cold and cheerless desolation
against the whole circuit of the wintry heavens.
Fremont soon discovered that the guide had
missed the real pass. Dangers rapidly thickened
around the adventurers; the cold was becoming
insupportable; a hundred and twenty mules, huddled together from the natural instinct of self-preservation, were still unable to resist the cold by
their mutual warmth, and many of them fell over
dead, frozen stiff as they stood. The situation of
the party was now perilous in the extreme. They
were distant at least ten days' journey from the
nearest New Mexican settlement. Fremont immediately despatched thither a guide with three picked
men, for the purpose of obtaining supplies of food
and succor. Twenty days were allowed them for
the performance of this duty, while the remainder
of the party remained with Fremont in the snowy
solitudes of the mountains.
After waiting sixteen days for their return, Fre-
O «/ 7
mcmt, accompanied by three persons, overcome by
anxiety and impatience, started forth on foot to
meet them. The snow was waist-deep. After travelling six days, Fremont came upon the camp of
the party.    He found the chief guide dead: he had JOHN  C FREMONT.
perished from fatigue and exhaustion. His three
comrades had subsisted for several days upon his
corpse, which had already been considerably devoured. Fremont gave them what relief he could,
and resumed his journey toward the New Mexican
settlements. He had not progressed far before he
met the welcome trail of Indians. He pursued it
down the Del Norte, which was then frozen over as
firmly as a rock; and after some time he discovered
a solitary Indian attempting to obtain water from
an air-hole. He was soon surrounded and taken.
He proved to be the son of a Utah chief whom Fremont on a former occasion, several years before,
had met at a distant point. He became Fremont's
guide, conducted him to the nearest Indian settlements, gave him four horses, and furnished the
necessary provisions. Fremont, having thus recruited, proceeded to Taos, and in the hospitable
house of his old friend Kit Carson he obtained
further supplies, which he; immediately sent to his
party who yet remained in the mountains. One-
third of them had already perished. Some of the
survivors had their feet half burned in the fire
which had been kindled to thaw and invigorate
them; others were crippled in various ways. Fremont's situation was still gloomy in the extreme.
His whole outfit was lost; his men were all either
0 18* 210
dead or disabled; he himself was penniless in a
distant and strange region. Yet he did not despond; but he exhibited, on this desperate and memorable occasion, a degree of unconquerable heroism which, if exhibited on some great field prominent in the world's eye, would have surrounded
him with the halo of a world's admiration. He
aroused his utmost energies. He obtained, by various means, another outfit and a new company of
men. In a few days, horses, provisions, arms, ammunition, all were acquired by his indomitable perseverance and activity, and he resumed his perilous
march. He now chose to pass through the mountains by the Gila and the Paso del Norte, entering
California at the Agua Caliente, and travelling
thence to Los Angelos, the capital of the Territory.
The following letter written by Colonel Fremont
to his wife furnishes an admirable description of
some of the vicissitudes of this memorable journey:
"Taos, New Mexico, January 27, 1849.
"My very dear Wife :—I write to you from the
house of our good friend Carson. This morning a
cup of chocolate was brought to me while yet in bed.
To an overworn, overworked, much fatigued, and
starving traveller, these little luxuries of the world
offer an interest which in your comfortable home it
is not possible for you to conceive.    While in the JOHN  C. FREMONT.
enjoyment of this luxury, then, I pleased myself in
imagining how gratified you would be in picturing
me here in Kit's care, whom you will fancy constantly occupied and constantly uneasy in endeavoring to make me comfortable. How little could you
have dreamed of this while he was enjoying the
pleasant hospitality of your father's house! The
furthest thing then from your mind was that he
would ever repay it to me here.
"But I have now the unpleasant task of telling
you how I came here. I had much rather write you
some rambling letters in unison with the repose in
which I feel inclined to indulge, and talk to you
about the future, with which I am already busily occupied,—about my arrangements for getting speedily
down into the more pleasant climate of the Lower
Del Norte and rapidly through into California, and
my plans when I get there. I have an almost invincible repugnance to going back among scenes
where I have endured much suffering, and for all
the incidents and circumstances of which I feel a
strong aversion. But as clear information is absolutely necessary to you, and to your father more particularly still, I will give you the story now, instead
of waiting to tell it to you in California. But I
write in the great hope that you will not receive this
I &.
• ,';; si   .[ b
letter.   When it reaches Washington you may be ori
your way to California.
" Former letters have made you acquainted with
our journey so far as Bent's Fort, and from report
you will have heard the circumstances of our departure from the Upper Pueblo of the Arkansas. We
left that place about the 25th of November, with
upwards of a hundred good mules and one hundred
and thirty bushels of shelled corn, intended to support our animals across the snow of the high mountains and down to the lower parts of the Grand River
tributaries, where usually the snow forms no obstacle
to winter travelling. At the Pueblo I had engaged as
a guide an old trapper well known as * Bill Williams,'
and who had spent some twenty-five years of his
life in trapping various parts of the Rocky Mountains. The error of our journey was committed
in engaging this man. He proved never to have
in the least known, or entirely to have forgotten,
the whole region of country through which we were
to pass. We occupied more than half a month in
making the journey of a few days, blundering a tortuous way through deep snow which already began
to choka up the passes, for which we were obliged
to waste time in searching. About the 11th of December we found ourselves at the North of the Del
$Torte Canon, where that river issues from the St. JOHN  C. FREMONT.
John's Mountain, one of the highest, most rugged
and impracticable of all the Rocky Mountain ranges,
inaccessible to trappers and hunters even in the
summer-time. Across the point of this elevated
range our guide conducted us, and, having still great
confidence in his knowledge, we pressed onward
with fatal resolution. Even along the river-bottoms
the snow was already belly-deep for the mules, frequently snowing in the valley and almost constantly
in the mountains. The cold was extraordinary,—at
the warmest hours of the day (between one and two)
the thermometer, (Fahrenheit,) standing in the shade
of only a tree-trunk, at zero; the day sunshiny,
with a moderate breeze. We pressed up toward
the summit, the snow deepening, and in four or
five days reached the naked ridges which lie above
the timbered country, and which form the dividing
grounds between the waters of the Atlantic and
Pacific Oceans. Along these naked ridges it storms
nearly all winter, and the winds sweep across them
with remorseless fury. On our first attempt to
cross we encountered a pouderii (dry snow driven
thick through the air by violent wind, and in which
objects are visible only at a short distance,) and were
driven back, having some ten or twelve men variously frozen, face, hands, or feet. The guide became
uigh being frozen to death here, and dead mules
-. -j
j* Ei   h
were already lying about the fires. Meantime, it
snowed steadily. The next day we made maulsv and,
beating a road or trench through the snow, crossed
the crest in defiance of the pouderiS and encamped
immediately below in the edge of the timber. The
trail showed as if a defeated party had passed by,—
pack-saddles and packs, scattered articles of clothing,
and dead mules strewed along. A continuance of
stormy weather paralyzed all movement. We were
encamped somewhere about twelve thousand feet
above the sea. Westward, the country was buried
in deep snow. It was impossible to advance, and
to turn back was equally impracticable. We were
overtaken by sudden and inevitable ruin. It so
happened that the only places where any grass could
be had were the extreme summit of the ridges,
where the sweeping winds kept the rocky ground
bare and the snow could not lie. Below these, animals could not get about, the snow being deep
enough to bury them. Here, therefore, in the full
violence of the storms, we were obliged to keep our
animals. They could not be moved either way. It
was instantly apparent that we should lose every
"I determined to recross the mountain more
toward the open country, and haul or pack the
baggage (by men) down to the Del Norte.    With JOHN C FREMONT.
great labor the baggage was transported across the
crest to the head-springs of a little stream leading to
the main river. A few days were sufficient to destroy our fine band of mules. They generally kept
huddled together, and, as they froze, one would be
seen to tumble down, and the snow would cover
him: sometimes they would break off and rush
down toward the timber, until they were stopped
by the deep snow, where they were soon hidden by
the pouderiS. The courage of the men failed fast:
in fact, I have never seen men so soon discouraged
by misfortune as we were on this occasion; but, as
you know, the party was not constituted like the
former ones. But among those who deserve to be
honorably mentioned, and who behaved like what
they were,—men of the old exploring party,—were
Godey, King, and Taplin; and first of all Godey.
In this situation, I determined to send in a party to
the Spanish settlements of New Mexico for provisions and mules to transport our baggage to Taos,
With economy, and after we should leave the mules,
we had not two weeks' provisions in the camp.
These consisted of a store which I had reserved for
a hard day,—macaroni and bacon. From among the
volunteers I chose King, Brackenridge, Creutzfeldt,
and the guide Williams; the party under the command of King.    In case of the least delay at the
I 216
settlements, he was to send me an express. In the
mean time, we were to occupy ourselves in removing
the baggage and equipage down to the Del Norte,
which we reached with our baggage in a few days
after their departure, (which was the day after
Christmas.) Like many a Christmas for years back,
mine was spent on the summit of a wintry mountain, my heart filled with gloomy and anxious
thoughts, with none of the merry faces and pleasant
luxuries that belong to that happy time. You may
be sure we contrasted much this with the last at
Washington, and speculated much on your doings
and made many warm wishes for your happiness.
Could you have looked into Agrippa's glass for a
few moments only ! You remember the volumes of
Blackstone which I took from your father's library
when we were overlooking it at our friend Brant's ?
They made my Christmas amusements. I read
them to pass the heavy time and forget what was
around me. Certainly, you may suppose that my
first law-lessons will be well remembered. Day
after day passed by, and no news from our express
party. Snow continued to fall almost incessantly
on the mountain. The spirits of the camp grew
lower. Prone lay down in the trail and froze to
death. In a sunshiny day, and having with him
means to make a fire, he threw his blankets down JOHN  0. FREMONT.
in the trail and lay there till he froze to death.
After sixteen days had elapsed from King's departure, I became so uneasy at the delay that I decided
to wait no longer. I was aware that our troops had
been engaged in hostilities with the Spanish Utahs
and Apaches, who range in the North River Valley,
and became fearful that they (King's party) had
been cut off by these Indians: I could imagine no
other accident. Leaving the camp employed with
the baggage in charge of Mr. Vincenthaler, I started
down the river with a small party, consisting of
Godey, (with his young nephew,) Mr. Preuss, and
Saunders. We carried our arms and provisions for
two or three days. In the camp the messes had
provisions for two or three meals, more or less, and
about iive pounds of sugar to each man. Failing
to meet King, my intention was to make the Red
River settlement, about twenty-five miles north of
Taos, and send back the speediest relief possible.
My instructions to the camp were, that if they did
not hear from me within a stated time they were to
follow down the Del Norte.
" On the second day after leaving camp, we came
upon a fresh trail of Indians,—two lodges, with a
considerable number of animals. This did not
lessen our uneasiness for our people. As their trail
when we met it turned and went down the river,
19 ill!
we followed it. On the fifth day we surprised an
Indian on the ice of the river. He proved to be
a Utah, son of a Grand River chief we had formerly
known, and behaved to us in a friendly manner.
We encamped near them at night. By a present of
a rifle, my two blankets, and other promised rewards
when we should get in, I prevailed on this Indian
to go with us as a guide to the Red River settlement,
and take with him four of his horses, principally to
carry our little baggage. These were wretchedly
poor, and could get along only in a very slow walk.
On that day, (the sixth,) we left the lodges late, and
travelled only some six or seven miles. About sunset we discovered a little smoke, in a grove of timber off from the river, and, thinking perhaps it might
be our express party on its return, we went to see.
This was the twenty-second day since they had left
us, and the sixth sin*ce we had left the camp. We
found them,—three of them, Creutzfeldt, Bracken-
ridge, and Williams,—the most miserable objects I
have ever seen. I did not recognise Creutzfeldt's
features when Brackenridge brought him up to me
and mentioned his name. They had been starving.
King had starved to death a few days before. His
remains were some six or eight miles above, near
the river. By the aid of the horses, we carried
these three men with us to Red River settlement, JOHN  C FREMONT.
which we reached (Jan. 20) on the tenth evening
after leaving our camp in the mountains, having
travelled through snow and on foot one hundred
and sixty miles. I look upon the anxiety which induced me to set out from the camp as an inspiration.
Had I remained there waiting the party which had
been sent in, every man of us would probably have
"The morning after reaching the Red River
town, Godey and myself rode on to the Rio Hondo
and Taos, in search of animals and supplies, and,
on the second evening after that on which we had
reached Red River, Godey had returned to that
place with about thirty animals, provisions, and
four Mexicans, with which he set out for the camp
on the following morning. On the road he received
eight or ten others, which were turned over to him
by the orders of Major Beale, the commanding
officer of this northern district of New Mexico. I
expect that Godey will reach this place with the
party on Wednesday evening, the 31st. From Major
Beale I received the offer of every aid in his power,
and such actual assistance as he was able to render.
Some horses which he had just recovered from the
Utahs were loaned to me, and he supplied me from
the commissary's department with provisions which
I could have had nowhere else.    I find myself in »
11 ft
T ■.   % 1
the midst of friends. With Carson is living Owens;
and Maxwell is at his father-in-law's, doing a very
prosperous business as a merchant and contractor
for the troops.
"Evening.—Mr. St.Vrain and Aubrey, who have
just arrived from Santa F6, called to see me. I had
the pleasure to learn that Mr. St.Vrain sets out from
Santa Fe' on the 15th of February, for St. Louis, so
that by him I have an early and certain opportunity
of sending on my letters. Beale left Santa F£ on
his journey to California on the 9th of this month.
He probably carried on with him any letters which
might have been at Santa F6 for me. I shall probably reach California with him or shortly after him.
Say to your father that these are my plans for the
"At the beginning of February (about Saturday)
I shall set out for California, taking the southern
route, by the Rio Abejo, the Paso del Norte, and the
south side of the Gila, entering California at the
Agua Caliente, thence to Los Angeles and immediately north. I shall break up my party here and
take with me only a few men. The survey has been
uninterrupted up to this point, and I shall carry it
on consecutively. As soon as possible after reaching California, I will go on with the survey of the
coast and coast-country.    Your father knows that JOHN  C   FREMONT.
this is an object of great desire with me, and I trust
it is not too much to hope that he may obtain the
countenance and aid of the President (whoever he
may be) in carrying it on effectually and rapidly to
completion. For this I hope earnestly. I shall
then be enabled to draw up a map and report on
the whole country, agreeably to our previous anticipations. All my other plans remain entirely unaltered.
I shall take immediate steps to make ourselves a
good home in California, and to have a place ready
for your reception, which I anticipate for April.
My hopes and wishes are more strongly than ever
turned that way.
" Monday, 29th.—My letter now assumes a journal-
form. No news yet from the party,—a great deal
of falling weather; rain and sleet here and snow in
the mountains. This is to be considered a poor
country,—mountainous, with severe winters and but
little arable land. To the United States it seems to
me to offer little other value than the right of way.
It is throughout infested with Indians, with whom
in the course of the present year the United States
will be at war, as well as in the Oregon Territory.
To hold this country will occasion the Government
great expense, and, certainly, one can see no source
of profit or advantage in it.   An additional regiment
will be required for special service here.
19* 222
, 11 *
" Mr. St. Vrain dined with us to-day. Owens
goes to Missouri in April to get married, and thence
by water to California. Carson is very anxious to
go there with me now, and afterward remove his
family thither; but he cannot decide to break off
from Maxwell and family connections.
" I am anxiously waiting to hear from my party,
in much uncertainty as to their fate. My presence
kept them together and quiet: my absence may have
had a bad effect. When we overtook King's starving party, Brackenridge said that he 'would rather
have seen me than his father.' He felt himself safe."
"Taos, New Mexico, February 6, 1849.
"After a long delay, which had wearied me to a
point of resolving to set out again myself tidings
have at last reached me from my ill-feted party. Mr.
Haler came in last night, having the night before
reached Red River settlement, with some three or
four others. Including Mr. King and Prone, we
have lost eleven of our party. Occurrences after I
left them are briefly these, so far as they are within
Haler's knowledge. I say briefly, my dear Jessie,
because now I am unwilling to force myself to dwell
upon particulars. I wish for a time to shut out
these things from my mind, to leave this country,
and all thoughts and all things  connected with JOHN G. FREMONT.
recent events, which have been so signally disastrous as absolutely to astonish me with a persistence
of misfortune which no precaution has been adequate on my part to avert.
"You will remember that I had left the camp
with occupation sufficient to employ them for three
or four days, after which they were to follow me
down the river. Within that time I had expected
the relief from King, if it was to come at all.
"They remained where I had left them seven
days, and then started down the river. Manuel—
you will remember Manuel, the Cosumne Indian—
gave way to a feeling of despair after they had travelled about two miles, begged Haler to shoot him,
and then turned and made his way back to the
camp,—intending to die there, as he doubtless soon
did. They followed our trail down the river:
twenty-two man they were in all. About ten miles
below the camp, Wise gave out, threw away his
gun and blanket, and, a few hundred yards farther,
fell over into the snow and died. Two Indian boys,
young men, countrymen of Manuel, were behind.
They rolled up Wise in his blanket, and buried him
in the snow on the river-bank. No more died that
day,—none the next. Carver raved during the
night, his imagination wholly occupied with images
of many things which he fancied himself eating. 224
In the morning he wandered off from the party;
and probably soon died. They did not see him
again. Sorel on this day gave out, and lay down
to die. They built him a fire; and Morin, who was
in a dying condition and snow-blind, remained.
These two did not probably last till the next morning. That evening, I think, Hubbard killed a deer.
They travelled on, getting here and there a grouse,
but probably nothing else, the snow having frightened
off the game. Things were desperate, and brought
Haler to the determination of breaking up the party,
in order to prevent them from living upon each
other. He told them 1 that he had done all he could
for them, that they had no other hope remaining
than the expected relief, and that their best plan
was to scatter and make the best of -their way in
small parties down the river. That, for his part, if
he was to be eaten, he would, at all events, be found
travelling when he did die.' They accordingly
separated. With Mr. Haler continued five others
and the two Indian boys. Rohrer now became very
despondent: Haler encouraged him by recalling to
mind his family, and urged him to hold out a little
longer. On this day he fell behind, but promised
to overtake them at evening. Haler, Scott, Hubbard, and Martin agreed that, if any one of them
should give out, the others were not to wait for him JOHN  C. FREMONT.
to die, but build a fire for him and push on. At
night, Kern's mess encamped a few hundred yards
from Haler's, with the intention, according to Taplin,
to remain where they were until the relief should
come, and in the mean time to live upon those who
had died, and upon the weaker ones as they should
die. With the three Kerns were CaJthcart, Andrews,
McKie, Stepperfeldt, and Taplin.
"Ferguson and Beadle had remained together
behind. In the evening Rohrer came up and remained with Kern's mess. Mr. Haler learned afterward from that mess that Rohrer and Andrews
wandered off the next day and died. They say
they saw their bodies. In the morning Haler's
party continued on. After a few hours, Hubbard
gave out. They built him a fire, gathered him some
wood, and left him, without, as Haler says, turning
their heads to look at him as they went off*. About
two miles farther, Scott—you remember Scott, who
used to shoot birds for youat the frontier—gave out.
They did the same for him as for Hubbard, and
continued on. In the afternoon the Indian boys
went ahead, and before nightfall met Godey with
the relief. Haler heard and knew the guns which
he fired for him at night, and, starting early in the
morning, soon met him. I hear that they all cried
together like children.    Haler turned back with 226
Godey, and went with him to where they had left
Scott. He was still alive, and was saved. Hubbard
was dead,—still warm. From Kern's mess they
learned the death of Andrews and Rohrer, and a
little above met Ferguson, who told them that
Beadle had died the night before.
" Godey continued on with a few New Mexicans
and pack-mules to bring down the baggage from Aie
camp. Haler, with Martin and Bacon, on foot, and
bringing Scott on horseback, have first arrived at
the Red River settlement. Provisions and horses
for them to ride were left with the others, who preferred to rest on the river until Godey came back.
At the latest, they should all have reached Red
River settlement last night, and ought all to be here
this evening. When Godey arrives, I shall know
from him all the circumstances sufficiently in detail
to enable me to understand clearly every tiling. But
it will not be necessary to tell you any thing further.
It has been sufficient pain for you to read what I
have already written.
" As I told you, I shall break up my party here.
I have engaged a Spaniard to furnish mules to take
my little party with our baggage as far down the
Del Kbrte as Albuquerque. To-morrow a friend-
sets out to purchase me a few mules, with which he JOHN C FREMONT. ZZT
is to meet me at Albuquerque; and thence I continue the journey on my own animals. My road
wiU take me down the Del Norte, about one hundred
and dxty miles below Albuquerque, and then passes
between this river and the heads of the Gila, to a
little Mexican town called, I think, Tusson; thence
to the mouth of the Gila and across the Colorado,
direct to Agua Caliente, into California. I intend
to make the journey rapidly, and about the middle
of March: hope for the great pleasure of hearing
from home. I look for a large supply of newspapers and documents, more perhaps because these
things have a home-look about them than on their
own account. When I think of you all, 1 feel a
warm glow at my heart, which renovates it like a
good medicine, and I forget painful feelings in
strong hope for the future. We shall yet, dearest
wife, enjoy quiet and happiness together: these are
nearly one and the same to me now. I make frequently pleasant pictures of the happy home we are
to have, and oftenest, and among the pleasantest of
all, I see our library with its bright fire in the rainy
stormy days, and the large windows looking out
upon the sea in the bright weather. I have it all
planned in my own mind. It is getting late now.
La Harpe says that there are two gods which are 228
very dear to us,~hope and sleep. My homage shall
be equally divided between them: both make the
time pass lightly until I see you. So I go now to
pay a willing tribute to one, with my heart full of
the other." colonel, Fremont's fifth expedition, and political
Thus did this intrepid explorer labor to obtain
a secure and practicable path which might conduct
him to Sacramento. He may be said to have then
thrown open, with his own hands, the golden gates
of that new El Dorado, which have since glittered
from afar upon the delighted vision of so many
myriads of ardent and enthusiastic adventurers.
His journey lay upon the straight line of the thirty-
eighth and thirty-ninth degrees. It is the same
route which prudence and wise policy indicate as
the one best adapted for the completion of the American Central Pacific Railway, when that great national work, so necessary to the future development
of the resources and capacities of the Confederacy,
shall be accomplished.
On his arrival in California, Colonel Fremont
expected to settle and reside there permanently. In
1847, he had purchased a large tract of land, containing seventy square miles, termed the Mariposas I If
rn%g    , R:i   t\'.t
i V -
i»[rf• ? In
r 1
i i i
[i| 1
District, for the sum of three thousand dollars. It is
situated two hundred and twenty-five miles north ot
San Francisco. The gold-mines which it contains
are extremely valuable; and the Valley of the Mari
posas is described as being the most fertile and beau
tiful in California. In January, 1852, Fremont filed
his claim for this immense tract before the Commissioners appointed to ascertain and settle the private
land-claims in the State of California. In December, 1852, his claim was confirmed by them. In
September, 1853, an adverse claim was defended
before the District Court of the United States. This
tribunal decided adversely to Fremont. He appealed
from their decision to the Suprenm Court of the
United States, which, after a thorough investigation,
and a protracted and learned argument by counsel
on both sides, established the title of Colonel Fremont to«the whole tract claimed.*
* As considerable interest has been excited in reference to this
celebrated estate, we append the title under which Colonel Fremont
claims, and the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States,
respecting it.
" In 1844, Manuel Micheltorrena, then governor and commandant-
general, issued a grant of what is now known as the Mariposas property, to Juan Alvarado, purporting to be founded upon the patriotic
services of Alvarado, who had been conspicuous in the commotions in
California whioh resulted from the centralizing policy of Mexico, out
d which grew the Texas Revolution, and was afterward appointed JOHN  C. FREMONT.
While devoting his attention to his private interests in California, Colonel Fremont was elected to
governor by the provincial deputation. In 1837, he repelled the
effort of Cavallo, who had been appointed governor by Mexico, to
take possession of the government, and was afterward confirmed as
Governor of California by the constitutional authorities of Mexico.
He continued in that office until Micheltorrena was appointed to succeed him, and he was appointed first counsellor of the departmental
junta with a salary of $1500. For these services the following
grant was made:—
" * Whereas, Don Juan B. Alvarado, colonel of the auxiliary militia
of this department, is worthy for his patriotic services to be preferred in his pretension for his personal benefit and that of his family,
for the tract of land known by the name of the Mariposas, to the extent often square leagues, (sitios deganado mayor,) within the limits
of the Snow Mountain (Sierra Nevada) and the rivers known by the
names of the Chauchilles, of the Mereed, and the San Joaquin, the
necessary requirements, according to the provisions of the laws and
regulations, having been previously complied with, by virtue of tho
authority in me vested, in the name of the Mexican nation, I have
granted to him the aforesaid tract, declaring the same by these presents his property in fee, subject to the approbation of the Most Excellent the Departmental Assembly and to the following conditions:-—
" ' 1. He shall not sell, alienate, or mortgage the same, nor subject
it to taxes, entail, or any other encumbrance.
"'2. He may enclose it without obstructing the crossings, the
roads, or the right of way: he shall enjoy the same freely and without hinderance, destining it to such use or cultivation as may most
suit him; but he shall build a house within a year, and it shall be
" ' 3. He shall solicit, from the proper magistrate, the judicial pos-
• 1
li; [ J
■ |    ill
represent the Territory in the Senate of the United
States.    William W. Gwinn was his associate.    The
session of the same, by virtue of this patent, by whom the boundaries
BhaU be marked out, on the limits of which he (the grantee) shall
place the proper landmarks.
" * 4. The track of land granted is ten sitios de ganado mayor,
(ten square leagues,) as before mentioned. The magistrate who may
give the possession shall cause the same to be surveyed according to
the ordinance, the surplus remaining to the nation for the proper
"' 5. Should he violate the conditions, he will lose his right to the
land, and it will be subject to being denounced by another.
" I Therefore, I command that these presents being firm and binding, that the same be registered in "the proper book, and delivered to
the party interested for his security and other purposes.
" ' Given in Monterey, this 20th day of the month of February, ia
the year of 1844.
"'Manuel Timeno, Secretary.*
"' Manuel Micheltorrena.
" On the 10th of February, 1847, Alvarado executed a deed of the*
property as described in his own grant to Colonel Fremont, with a
general warranty of title. The consideration stated in the conveyance
was $3000. On the 21st of January, 1852, he filed his claim before
the commissioners appointed to ascertain and settle the private land-
claims in the State of California, and in December, 1852, the grant
was confirmed. On the 20th of September, 1853, there was filed
in the office of the commissioners a notice from Mr. Attorney-General
Cashing, that an appeal from the decision of the commissioners
to the District Court of the United States would be prosecuted,*
and in consequence of that appeal the decision of the commissioners
was reversed on the 7th of January, 1854.    An appeal was taken JOHN  C. FREMONT.
career of Fremont in the Senate was limited in
duration, in consequence of his having drawn the
from that decision by Colonel Fremont to the Supreme Court of the
United States. The case was argued on the part of Colonel Fremont
by Wm. Carey Jones, Mr. Bibb, and Mr. Crittenden; on the part of
the Government by Caleb Cushing, Attorney-General. The grounds
taken against the title by the Government were as follows:—
" ' 1. That Fremont's claim is on a gratuitous colonization-grant by
the Mexican governor of California to one Alvarado, of which there
had been no surveys, no plan, no occupation, no site even, no confirmation by the proper public authority, no performance of any of the
conditions precedent or subsequent annexed to the grant.
" '2. That the concession to Alvarado was null for uncertainty of
description and incapability of definite location.
1(13. That the concession was not confirmed by the Departmental
Assembly, and was not therefore entitled to confirmation by the United
States courts.
" '4. That the grant was void because the conditions annexed had
never been performed.
. '"5. That until the governor-general confirmed the concession the
title remained in the crown.
"'6. That none of the excuses for non-performance alleged in
Alvarado's behalf possessed legal force.
'* '7. That the grant to Alvarado was a gratuitous one, except in
so far as the performance of the conditions would relate back to constitute a consideration.
" '8. That the original petition, the provisional grant, and the
decree of the commissioners, each assumed a floating claim not as a
grant of an identical trust of land by metes and bounds.'
" The Supreme Court took a different view of the case from Mr*
Cushing,—reversed the decision of the District Court of California,
• ill
short period by lot.    Three weeks only of that term
remained; but during that brief interval he was con-
and confirmed Colonel Fremont's title in every particular. Chief-
Justice Taney delivered the opinion of the court, in the course of
which, while speaking of the provision against alienation attached to
Alvarado's grant, and which, he said, was void, as being in violation
of a decree of the Mexican Congress, he observes:—
"' But if this condition was valid by the laws of Mexico, and if
any conveyance made by Alvarado would have forfeited the land under
the Mexican Government as a breach of this condition, or if it would
have been forfeited by a conveyance to an alien, it does not by any
means follow that the same penalty would have been incurred by the
conveyance to Fremont.
" £ California was at that time in possession of the American forces,
and held by the United States as a conquered country, subject to the
authority of the American Government. The Mexican municipal
laws which were then administered were administered under the
authority of the United States, and might be repealed or abrogated at
their pleasure; and any Mexican law inconsistent with the rights of
the United States or its public policy, or with the rights of its citizens,
was annulled by the conquest. Now, there is no principle of public
law which prohibits the citizen of a conquering country from purchasing property, real or personal, in the territory thus acquired and
held; nor is there any thing in the principles of our Government, in
its policy, or in its laws, which forfeits it. The Mexican Government,
if it had regained the power, and it had been its policy to prevent the
alienation of real estate, might have treated the sale by Alvarado as
a violation of its laws; but it becomes a very different question when
the American Government is called on to execute the Mexican law.
And it san hardly be maintained that an American citizen, who makes
a contract or purchases property under such circumstances, can be JOHN C FREMONT.
stantly engaged in proposing measures of wise and
judicious legislation, which were necessary to complete and consolidate the government of California,
Which had been recently admitted as a State.
Eighteen bills of this nature were proposed by him;
and many of them were passed. On the 31st of March,
1851, his term in the Senate expired; after which
period he returned to California, to renew his attention to his private affairs, which had been much
neglected in consequence of his devotion to public
duties. He proceeded to take additional steps to
perfect his title to Mariposas. He had the land surveyed and mapped. He devoted much time and labor
to cattle-rearing. In 1852, his business relations called*
him to England and France, in which countries he
spent a year.   In March, 1852, an appropriation was
punished in a court of the United States with the penalty of forfeiture, when there is no law of Congress to inflict it. The purchase was
perfectly consistent with the rights and duties of Colonel Fremont as
an American officer and an American citizen; and the country in which
he made the purchase was, at the time, subject to the authority and
dominion of the United States.    ....
" * Upon the whole, it is the opinion of the court that the claim of
the petitioner is valid, and ought to be confirmed. The decree of the
district Court must, therefore, be reversed, and the case remanded,
with directions to the District Court to enter a decree conformably to
this opinion.'"*
* See Howard's U. S. Supreme Court Reports, vol. xvii. pp. 564, 565. \ J
■ l |
made by Congress for tho purpose of surveying
three routes to the Pacific Ocean, from which to
select a highway from the Mississippi toward the
land of gold. This proposition at once aroused
the slumbering interest of the distinguished explorer in the enterprise to which so valuable a portion of his life had been already devoted. He im-
mediately left Paris, in June, 1853, and returned to
the United States for the purpose of commencing
his fifth and last great exploration across the western half of the North American continent.
At the commencement of this journey Colonel
Fremont was attacked with a very severe illness,
which compelled him to return to St. Louis for
medical treatment. After three weeks' delay, he was
able to follow his company of twenty-two men, half
of whom were able-bodied Delaware Indians. They
had continued their route by his orders. On the
30th of October, he rejoined them at the Saline Fork
of the Kansas River, better known by the epithet of
Salt Creek. This spot is situated in the midst of a
wide prairie, which extended for many miles in
every direction. When Colonel Fremont returned
to his company, the grass was on fire on all sides as
far as the eye could reach. The Delaware Indians
had picketed their animals near the creek, on the
banks of which they had encamped, and thither all JOHN  C FREMONT.
the baggage had been removed, as to the place of
greatest safety. While the whole company were
gazing silently upon the sublime spectacle which
was thus presented to their view, several horsemen
were suddenly seen approaching the spot at the top
of their speed and boldly riding through the tumultuous ocean of flame. It proved to be Colonel Fremont, his physician, and their attendant. They
were received with enthusiastic shouts of joy.
The next day the journey was resumed. During
the night the fire had crossed the Kansas River,
and it was then raging along the line of their
further progress. The only possible escape was
through the blazing grass; and, as soon as the
animals were packed and the camp was raised,
Colonel Fremont mounted and dashed forward at a
gallop through the flames, followed by the rest of
the company. About a hundred feet were thus
rapidly traversed without any serious consequences
being felt from the effects of the burning grass.
The country now to be examined comprised three-
fourths of the distance which intervened from the
Missouri frontier, at the mouth of the Kansas River,
to the foot of the Wahsatch Mountains, within the rim
of the Great Basin. The line to be pursued was between the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth parallels of
latitude.   The whole extent of the route was about
ii - »T ;
S^ ^^^^^^^^
j a
V   f
fifteen hundred and fifty miles, through territories m
a great measure unknown and untrodden by the
foot of the white man. The first section of this region extends for seven hundred miles, from Missouri
to the base of the Sierra Blanca. The second or
middle portion reaches from the Sierra Blanca to
the Wahsatch Mountains,—about four hundred and
fifty miles. Here the first and lonely settlement of
the Mormons existed. The third, or most western
division, includes the mountainous plateau lying between the Wahsatch Mountains and the Sierra Nevada,—a distance of about four hundred miles.
During the progress of this journey the company
experienced the usual incidents of labor and of suffering which had attended the preceding expeditions*
Near the Sand Hill Pass they first found traces of
the Utah Indians. They there met and killed a
young wild horse for food. The next day a party
of Utahs came into the camp and demanded payment for the slain animal, alleging that it belonged
to one of their squaws. They were paid for it in
knives, blankets, and other utensils. But the next
day the expedition was visited by another and a
different company of the same tribe of Indians, who
exhibited a more warlike appearance. They declared
that the preceding party had not owned the horse,
that they had no right to receive payment for its loss, JOHN C FREMONT.
and that they were the rightful possessors. They
added that unless they received "a great deal of
red cloth, blankets, knives, and powder/' they
would massacre the whole company. Colonel Fre*
mont was not intimidated by these threats.' He was
well acquainted with the character of these Indians,
and refused to comply with their demands, although
they were all well armed with rifles, bows, and arrows. He directed one of his men to take out his
Colt's revolver, containing six barrels, to tell the
Indians that the white man could shoot as often as
he pleased without reloading, and then to discharge
his weapon a number of times rapidly in succession.
He did so; and the savages, unable to explain the
mysterious phenomenon, at once acknowledged the
superior effectiveness of the white man's arms, professed friendship, changed their tone to one of supplication, begged what articles they could obtain
from the generosity of the strangers, and then
quietly withdrew.
As time and their journey advanced, the suffer
ings of the expedition became more intense. For
several months, as they traversed the snowy and
rugged solitudes of the mountains, they subsisted
on horseflesh. Their custom was, when an animal
gave out, to shoot him down, immediately to divide
the carcass into twenty-two parts and distribute 240
them to the men. One horse generally furnished
six meals for the whole party. The entrails were
well shaken, for the men had no water wherewith to
wash them. They were then boiled with snow.
The hide was divided into equal portions, and with
the bones, was roasted to a crisp. When the cactus-
leaves qould be obtained, they were separated from
the prickles and boiled as a salad. Thus they
lived, or rather starved, during fifty days; and they
travelled over a large portion of the way on foot.
During part of the journey some of the men were
without shoes. On the 7th of February, 1854, Oliver
Fullen, of St. Louis, expired. He had travelled for
some weeks on foot. At length, his feet being
badly frozen, he found himself unable to proceed.
He was wrapped in his blankets, laid across the
path, while the company waited three days to enable
him to recruit. At last they were compelled to resume their journey. The best remaining mule was
assigned for the use of the invalid, and two men
walked on either side to support him. When
nearly at the end of their sufferings, he expired,
while lying on the mule; and he was immediately
buried by his surviving comrades on the lonely spot
where he died, hundreds of miles from his home
and from those who were most deeply interested in
his fate. JOHN  C. FREMONT.
Having reached the Wahsatch Mountains, Colonel
Fremont had accomplished two grand divisions of
his task. A third'yet remained. This was to explore the mountainous plateau between those mountains and the Sierra Nevada of California. Two
routes had suggested themselves to Colonel Fremont as worthy of examination;— one directly
across the plateau between the thirty-seventh and
thirty-eighth parallels of latitude, the other keeping to the south of the mountains and following
the valley of the Virgin River two hundred miles
to the head of the San Joaquin Valley. The latter
route had been partially examined already by Major
Steele, of Parawan; Colonel Fremont therefore
resolved to select the other much more difficult
one, which he believed also to be the more direct
line toward San Francisco.
He found the country to be a high table-land,
filled with mountains, and intersected by numerous
open and low passes.    The valleys were dry and
naked, without wood or water; the mountains were
covered with pines; springs were rare; and small
streams of water were found only at long intervals.
He met no human creature here during a journey
of three hundred miles..    He  struck the   Sierra
Nevada about the thirty-seventh parallel, on the
15th of March.    He found these mountains to be
Q 21
il— til
very abrupt and covered with snow. The highest
point which he reached was nine thousand feet
above the level of the sea. At length the expedition ended its arduous labors on the 1st of May,
1854, and, passing down from the mountainous and
snowy regions among which they had so long toiled,
they entered the welcome bosom of the Valley of
Ban Joaquin, which led them out into the open
inhabited country, through a long, smooth passage
along which a wagon might travel, without the least
impediment or danger, for forty consecutive miles.
They reached the termination of their toils just in
time to avoid starvation; for they had subsisted for
weeks on horse-meat, and their last supply of this
delicate nutriment had been entirely exhausted two
days previous to their attaining the confines of civilization. Fremont had completed his explorations
and scientific investigations, commencing at the very
spot from which his guide had gone astray on his
fourth expedition; thus evincing the singular constancy and perseverance with which this great hero
of exploring science executed the high and daring
purposes of usefulness which he had once conceived.
The following description of the results of this
expedition by Colonel Fremont himself affords some
conception of the value of the fruits which ensued
from his labors: JOHN  C FREMONT.
" To the Editors of the National Intelligmcer.
" Gentlemen :—While the proceedings in Congress
are occupying public attention, more particularly
with the subject of a Pacific railway, I desire to
offer to your paper for publication some general
results of a recent winter-expedition across the
Rocky Mountains, confining myself to mere results,
in anticipation of a fuller report, with maps and
illustrations, which will necessarily require some
months to prepare.
"The country examined was for about three-fourths
of the distance—from the Missouri frontier, at the
mouth of the Kansas River, to the Valley of Para-
wan, at the foot of the Wahsatch Mountains, within
the rim of the Great Basin, at its southeastern bend—
along and between the 38th and 39th parallels of
latitude; and the whole line divides itself naturally
into three sections, which may be conveniently followed in description.
1 The first or eastern section consists of the great
prairie-slope spreading from the base of the Sierra
Blanca to the Missouri frontier,—about seven hundred miles; the second or middle section comprehends the various Rocky Mountain ranges and in-
terlying valleys, between the termination of the
Great Plains, at the foot of the Sierra Blanca, and Jfhi
the Great Basin of the Parawan Valley and Wahsatch Mountains, where the first Mormon settlement is found,—about four hundred and fifty miles;
the third or western section comprehends the mountainous plateau lying between the Wahsatch Mountains and the Sierra Nevada,—a distance of about
four hundred miles.
" The country examined was upon a very direct
line, the travelled route being about one thousand
five hundred and fifty miles over an air-line distance
of about thirteen hundred miles.
" The First xSecUon.—Four separate expeditions
across this section, made before the present one, and
which carried me over various lines at different seasons of the year, enable me to speak of it with the
confidence of intimate knowledge. It is a plain of
easy inclination, sweeping directly up to the foot
of the mountains which dominate it as highlands
do the ocean. Its character is open prairie, over
which summer travelling is made in every direction.
"For a railway or a winter-travelling road, the
route would be, in consideration of wood, coal,
building-stone, water, and fertile land, about two
hundred miles up the immediate valley of Kansas,
(which might be made one rich continuous cornfield,) and afterward along the immediate valley of JOHN  C FREMONT.
the Upper Arkansas, of which about two hundred
miles, as you approach the mountains, is continuously well adapted to settlements as well as to roads.
Numerous well-watered and fertile valleys, broad and
level, open up among the mountains, which present
themselves in detatched blocks, outliers, gradually
closing in around the heads of the streams, but
leaving open approaches to the central ridges. The
whole of the intermountain region is abundant in
grasses, wood, coal, and fertile soil. The Pueblos
above Bent's Fort prove it to be well adapted to the
grains and vegetables common to the latitude,—including Indian corn, which ripens well,—and to the
support of healthy stock, which increase well and
take care of themselves summer and winter.
" The climate is mild and the winters short, the
autumn usually having its full length of bright, open
weather, without snow, which in winter falls rarely
and passes oft* quickly. In this belt of country lying
along the mountains the snow falls more early and
much more thinly than in the open plains to tho
eastward: the storms congregate about the high
mountains and leave the valleys free. In the beginning of December we found yet no snow on the
Huerfano River, and were informed by an old resident, then engaged in establishing a farm at the
mouth of this stream, that snow seldom or never
%\ 246
falls there, and that cattle were left in the range aL
the winter through.
" This character of country continued to the foot
of the dividing crest, and to this point our journey
resulted in showing a very easy grade for a road,
over a country unobstructed either by snow or other
impediments, and having all the elements necessary
to the prosperity of an agricultural population, in
fertility of soil, abundance of food for stock, wood
and coal for fuel, and timber for necessary constructions.
"Our examinations around the southern headwaters of the Arkansas have made us acquainted
with many passes, grouped together in a small space
of country, conducting by short and practicable
valleys from the waters of the Arkansas just described, to the valleys of the Del Norte and East
Colorado. The Sierra Blanca, through which these
passes lie, is high and rugged, presenting a very
broken appearance, but rises abruptly from the open
country on either side, narrowed at the points
through which the passes are cut, leaving them only
six or eight miles in length from valley to valley,
and entirely unobstructed by outlying ranges or
broken country. To the best of these passes the
ascent is along the open valley of water-courses,
uniform and very gradual in ascent.   Standing im- JOHN C. FREMONT.
mediately at the mouth of the Sand Hill Pass,—one
of the most practicable in the Sierra Blanca, and
above those usually travelled,—at one of the remotest
head-springs of the Huerfano River, the eye of the
traveller follows down without obstruction or abrupt
descent along the gradual slope of the valley to the
great plains which reach the Missouri. The straight
river and the open valley form, with the plains beyond, one great slope, without a hill to break the
line of sight or obstruct the course of the road. On
either side of this line hills slope easily to the river,
with lines of timber and yellow autumnal grass, and
the water which flows smoothly between is not interrupted by a fall in its course to the ocean. The
surrounding country is wooded with pines and
covered with luxuriant grasses up to the very crags
of the central summits. On the 8th of December
we found this whole country free from snow; and
Daguerre views taken at this time show the grass
entirely uncovered in the passes.
"Along all this line the elevation was carefully
determined by frequent barometrical observations,
and its character exhibited by a series of daguerreotype views, comprehending the face of the country
almost continuously, or at least sufficiently so to
give a thoroughly correct impression of the whole.
"Two tunneWike passes pierce the mountains JOHN  C FREMONT.
here almost in juxtaposition, connecting the plain-
country on either side by short passages five to eight
miles long. The mountains which they perforate
constitute the only obstruction, and are the only
break in the plane or valley line of road from the
frontier of Missouri to the summit-hills of the Rocky
Mountains,—a distance of about eight hundred and
fifty miles, or more than half-way to the San Joaquin
Valley. Entering one of these passes from the
eastern plain, a distance of about one mile upon
a wagon-road, already travelled by wagons, commands an open view of the broad Valley of San Luis
and the great range of San Juan beyond on its western side. I here connected the line of the present
expedition with one explored in 1848-49 from the
mouth of the Kansas to this point; and the results
of both will be embodied in a full report.
" At this place the line entered the middle section,
and continued its western course over an open valley-
country, admirably adapted for settlement, across
the San Luis Valley, and up the flat bottom-lands
of the Sahwatch to the heights of the central ridge
of the Rocky Mountains. Across those wooded
heights,—wooded and grass-covered up to and over
their rounded summits,—to the Choocha-to-pe Pass,
the line followed an open, easy wagon-way, such
as is usual to a rolling country.    On the high sum- JOHN O.FREMONT.
mit-lands were forests of coniferous trees, and the
snow in the pass was four inches deep. This was
on the 14th of December. A day earlier our horses'
feet would not have touched snow in the crossing.
Up to this point we had enjoyed clear and dry pleasant weather. Our journey had been all along on
dry ground; and, travelling slowly along, waiting
for the winter, there had been abundant leisure for
becoming acquainted with the country. The open
character of the country, joined to good information,
indicated the existence of other passes about the
head of the Sahwatch. This it was desirable to
verify, and especially to examine a neighboring and
lower pass connecting more directly with the Arkansas Valley, known as the Poow-che.
"But the winter had now set in over all the
mountain-regions, and the country was so constantly
enveloped and hidden in clouds which rested upon
it, and the air so darkened by falling snow, that
exploring became difficult and dangerous precisely
where we felt most interested in making a thorough
examination. We were moving, in fogs and clouds,
through a region, wholly unknown to us, and without guides, and were therefore obliged to content
ourselves with the examination of a single line and
the ascertainment of the winter-condition of the 250
country over which it passed,—which was, in fact,
the main object of our expedition.
"Our progress in this mountainous region was
necessarily slow; and, during ten days which it
occupied us to pass through about one hundred
miles of the mountainous country bordering the
eastern side of the Upper Colorado Valley, the greatest depth of snow was, among the pines and aspens,
on the ridges about two and a half feet, and in the
valleys about six inches. The atmosphere is too cold
and dry for much snow, and the valleys, protected
by the mountains, are comparatively free from it and
warm. We here found villages of Utah Indians in
their wintering ground, in little valleys along the
foot of the highest mountains and bordering the
more open country of the Colorado Valley. Snow
was here (December 25) only a few inches deep,—-
the grass generally appearing above it, and there
being none under trees and on southern hill-sides.
"The horses of the Utahs were living on the
range, and, notwithstanding that they were used in
hunting, were in excellent condition. One which
we had occasion to kill for food had on it about two
inches of fat, being in as good order as any buffalo
we had killed in November on the eastern plains.
Over this valley-country—about one hundred and
fifty mixes across-r-the Indians informed us that snow JOHN C. FREMONf.
falls only a few inches in depth, such as we saw it at
the time.
" The immediate valley of the Upper Colorado fo*
about one hundred miles in breadth, and from the
7th to the 22d of January, was entirely bare of
snow, and the weather resembled that of autumn in
this country. The line here entered the body of
mountains known as the Wahsatch and Chu-ter-ria
ranges, which are practicable at several places in
this part of their course; but the falling snow and
destitute condition of my party again - interfered to
impede examinations. They lie between the Colorado Valley and the Great Basin, and at their western base are established the Mormon settlements of
Para wan and Cedar City. They are what are called
fertile mountains, abundant in water, wood, and
grassland fertile valleys, offering inducements to
settlement and facilities for making a road. These
mountains are a great storehouse of materials—timber, iron, coal—which would be of indispensable use
in the construction and maintenance of the road,
and are solid foundations to build up the future
prosperity of the rapidly-increasing Utah State.
"Salt is abundant on the eastern border-mountains, as the Sierra de Sal, being named from it. In
the ranges lying behind the Mormon settlements,
among the mountains through which the line passes,
3- 252
are accumulated a great wealth of iron and coal and
extensive forests of heavy timber. These forests
are the largest I am acquainted with in the Rocky
Mountains, being in some places twenty miles in
depth of continuous forest,—the general growth lofty
and large, frequently over three feet in diameter,
and sometimes reaching five feet, the red spruce
and yellow pine predominating. At the actual
southern extremity of the Mormon settlements, consisting of the two enclosed towns of Parawan and
Cedar City, near to which our line passed, a coalmine has been opened for about eighty yards, and
iron-works already established. Iron here occurs
in extraordinary masses, in some parts accumulated
into mountains, which come out in crests of solid
iron thirty feet thick and a hundred yards long.
"In passing through this bed of mountains about
fourteen days had been occupied,—from January 24
to February 7,—the deepest snow we here encountered being about up to the saddle-skirts, or four
feet; this occurring only in occasional drifts in the
passes on northern exposures, and in the small
mountain-flats hemmed in by woods and hills. In
the valley it was sometimes a few inches deep, and
as often none at all. On our arrival at the Mormon
settlements, February 8, we found it a few inches
deep, and were there informed that the winter had JOHN C FREMONT.
been unusually long-continued and severe, the thermometer having been as low as 17° below zero, and
more snow having fallen than in all the previous
winters together since the establishment of this
"At this season their farmers had usually been
occupied with their ploughs, preparing the land for
" At this point the line of exploration entered the
third or western section, comprehending the mountainous plateau between the Wahsatch Mountains and
the Sierra Nevada of California. Two routes have
suggested themselves to me for examination,—one
directly across the plateau, between the 37th and 38th
parallels, the other keeping to the south of the
mountains and following for about two hundred
miles down a valley of the Rio Virgen,—Virgin
River,—thence direct to the Tejon Pass, at the head
of the San Joaquin Valley. This route down the
Virgin River had been examined the year before,
with a view to settlement this summer, by a Mormon
exploring party under the command of Major Steele,
of Parawan, who (and others of the party) informed
me that they found fertile valleys inhabited by Indians, who cultivated corn and melons, and the rich
ground in many places matted over with grape-vines.
The Tejon Passes are two, one of them (from the
22 Itt-'r
abundance of vines at its lower end) called Caxon
de las Uvas. They were of long use, and were examined by me and their practicability ascertained
in my expedition of 1848-49; and in 1851 I again
passed through them both, bringing three thousand
head of cattle through one of them.
"Knowing the practicability of these passes, and
confiding in the report of Major Steele as to the
intermediate country, I determined to take the other,
(between the 37th and 88th parallels,) it recommending itself to me as being more direct toward San
Francisco, and preferable on that account for a road,
if suitable ground could be found; and also as being
unknown. The Mormons informed me that various
attempts had been made to explore it, and all failed
for want of water. Although biassed in favor of the
Virgin River route, I determined to examine this
one in the interest of geography, and accordingly
set out for this purpose from the settlement about
the 20th of February, travelling directly westward
from Cedar City, (eighteen miles west of Parawan.)
We found the country a high table-land, bristling
with mountains, often in short, isolated blocks, and
sometimes accumulated into considerable ranges.
with numerous open and low passes.
"We were thus always in a valley and always
surrounded by mountains more or less closely, which JOHN  C FREMONT.
apparently altered in shape and position as we advanced. The valleys are dry and naked, without
water or wood; but the mountains are generally
covered with grass and well wooded with pines:
springs are very rare, and occasionally small streams
are at remote distances. Not a human being was
encountered between the Santa Clara Road, near the
Mormon settlements, and the Sierra Nevada,—over
a distance of more than three hundred miles. The
solitary character of this uninhabited region, the
naked valleys without water-courses, among mountains with fertile soil and grass and woods abundant,
give it the appearance of an unfinished country.
" Commencing on the 38th, we struck the Sierra
Nevada on or about the 37th parallel about the 15th
of March.
" On our route across we had for the greater part
of the time pleasant and rather warm weather,—the
valley-grounds and low ridges uncovered, but snow
over the upper parts of the higher mountains. Between the 20th of February and 17th of March we had
several snow-storms, sometimes accompanied with
hail and heavy thunder; but the snow remained on
the valley-ground only a few hours after the storm
was over. It forms not the least impediment at any
time in the winter. I was prepared to find the sierra
here broad, rugged, and blocked up with snow, and 256
f Ii
was not disappointed in my expectation. The first
range we attempted to cross carried us to an elevation of eight thousand or nine thousand feet and
into impassable snow, which was further increased
on the 16 th by a considerable fall.
" There was no object in forcing a passage; and
I accordingly turned at once some sixty or eighty
miles to the southward, making a wide sweep to
strike the point of the California Mountain where
the Sierra Nevada suddenly breaks off and declines
into a lower country. Information obtained years
before from the Indians led me to believe that the
low mountains were broken into many passes; and,
at all events, I had the certainty of an easy passage
through either of Walker's passes.
" When the Point was reached I found the Indian
information fully verified: the mountain suddenly
terminated and broke down into lower grounds
barely above the level of the country, and making
numerous openings into the Valley of the San Joaquin. I entered into the first which offered, (taking
no time to search, as we were entirely out of provisions and living upon horses,) which led us, by an
open and almost level hollow thirteen miles long, to
an upland not steep enough to be called a hill, over
into the valley of a small affluent to Kern River,—
the hollow and the valley making together a way JOHN C. FREMONT.
where a wagon would not find any obstruction for
forty miles.
"The country around the passes in which the
Sierra Nevada here terminates declines considerably
below its more northern elevations. There was no
snow to be seen at all on its eastern face, and none
in the pass; but we were g in the midst of opening
spring, flowers blooming in fields on both sides of
the sierra.
"Between the point of the mountains and the
head of the valley at the Tejon the passes generally
are free from snow throughout the year, and the
descent from them to the ocean is distributed over a
long slope of more than two hundred miles. The
low, dry country and the long slope, in contradistinction to the high country and short sudden descent
and heavy snows of the passes behind the Bay of
San Francisco, are among the considerations which
suggest themselves in favor of the route by the
head of the San Joaquin.
"The above results embody general impressions
made upon my mind during this journey. It is
clearly established that the winter condition of the
country constitutes no impediment, and, from what
has been said, the entire practicability of the line
will be as clearly inferred. A fuller account hereafter will comprehend detailed descriptions of the
22* fin ,   ••
II 1 .
country, with their absolute and relative elevations,
and show the ground upon which the conclusions
were based. They are contributed at this time as
an element to aid the public in forming an opinion
on the subject of the projected railway, and in gratification of my great desire to do something for its
advancement. It seems a treason against mankind
and the spirit of progress which marks the age, to
refuse to put this one completing-link to our national
prosperity and the civilization of the world. Europe
still lies between Asia and America: build this
railroad, and things will have revolved about: Ame+
rica will lie between Asia and Europe; the golden
vein which runs through the history of the world
will follow the iron track to San Francisco, and the
Asiatic trade will finally fall into its last and permanent road, when the new and the modern Chryse
throw open their gates to the thoroughfare of the
" I am, gentlemen, with much regard, respectfully
" Yours."
In March, 1855, Colonel Fremont removed, with
his family, to the city of New York. Unusual
political honors were about to be conferred upon
this man of bold and resolute devotion to science
and national development.   On the 17th of June, he JOHN  C. FREMONT.
was nominated at Philadelphia for the Presidency
of the United States, by the National Republican
Convention, containing delegates from all the "free
States,'! and from Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky,
Delaware, and the District of Columbia. He accepted the nomination, avowing, as the chief and
most characteristic features of his political creed,
his hostility to the further extension of slavery in
States and Territories which till then were free
from its existence; his opposition to the repeal of
the Missouri Compromise; and his approbation of
the admission of Kansas to the Union as a free
State. His opponent in this great contest was
James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania. The latter was
chosen by a small majority of electoral votes, and*
became President of the United States.* Colonel
Fremont then returned to the welcome shades of
private life, and devoted himself to the preparation
of a full and elaborate narrative of his adventures
and researches during his fifth and last expedition
I The popular vote throughout the Union was as follows:—In the
"free States," for Fremont, 1,340,618; for Fillmore, 393,590; for
Bucllanan, 1,224,750. In the "slave States," for Fremont, 1,194;
for Fillmore, 479,465; for Buchanan, 609,587. Total vote for Fremont, 1,341,812; for Fillmore, 873,055; for Buchanan, 1,834,337.
Buchanan's majority over Fremont, 492,595; Fillmore and Fremont
over Buchanan, 381,530. ft
across the vast domains of the Western and Southwestern Territories of the Confederacy. His most
exalted praise will ever continue to be, that he has
won for himself the honorable distinction of being
one of the most talented, enterprising, and successful of American explorers and discoverers.
This singular man, the most eccentric, the most
unlucky, and, in some respects, the most remarkable
traveller of modern times, was born at the village of
Groton, in Connecticut, in 1751. His family were of
English descent; his grandfather, a merchant in
comfortable circumstances, having emigrated from
Bristol to the New World many years before the
date of Ledyard's birth. The father of the traveller
was a sea-captain, engaged in the West India trade,
who died at the age of thirty-five, leaving a widow
and four children. One of the latter was Colonel
William Ledyard, the commander of the American
troops in the unfortunate action of Fort Griswold,
who was cruelly slain after the capitulation.
The youth of John Ledyard was spent at Groton.
After his father's death, his mother married Doctor
261 Hi
Moore, of Southold, on which occasion John was
taken by his grandfather to reside with himself at
Hartford. At this early period the peculiarities of
his character were already apparent, and he was
remarked as a bold, eccentric, and self-reliant boy.
He attended the grammar-school in Hartford for
some time, after which he entered the office of
Thomas Seymour, a respectable attorney of that
city, who had married his aunt.
The dry, abstruse details of legal science possessed
but few attractions for a mind so ardent and so imaginative as that of Ledyard. He soon began to
weary of it, and expressed his disgust in no equivocal terms. Instead of being remarked for attentive
application to study, he became notorious for the
eagerness with which he embarked in enterprises of
the most hazardous and romantic description, in
which superior courage, energy, and resolution
were required. He already seemed to be utterly
improvident in his disposition, and indisposed to
anticipate misfortunes, to guard against their occurrence, or to provide for the responsibilities and
necessities of the future.
When nineteen years of age, Dr. Wheelock, the
founder and president of Dartmouth College, New
Hampshire, who had been intimate with Ledyard's
grandfather, invited him to become a pupil of that JOHN  LEDYARD.
institution. The offer was accepted, and in 1772
Ledyard commenced a course of studies which was
intended to prepare him for laboring as a missionary
among the Indians, a portion of whom still remained in New England. His journey from Hartford to Hanover, the seat of the college, was performed in a sulky, which attracted much notice
from the fact that it was the first vehicle of the
kind which had ever traversed that portion of the
continent. The peculiarities of Ledyard may be
inferred from the fact that, even in this journey, the
chief bulk of his baggage consisted of a theatrical
apparatus, with which he intended to amuse himself and his associates amid his more sober studies.
The prevalent simplicity of things at that time may
be inferred from the fact that the students of the
college were called together for recitation and prayers
by the sound of a conch-shell, which was blown by
the freshmen in their turns.
After residing four months at the college, Ledyard suddenly disappeared. Not the slightest trace
could be discovered of his destination. After the
expiration of three months and a half, he as suddenly returned. Then the mystery of his strange
absence was revealed. He had wandered to the
borders of Canada, and had resided among the
"Six Nations."   By this  eccentric expedition he
r 264
had acquired considerable knowledge of Indian
manners and customs; but, at the same time, he
had come to the deliberate conclusion not to spend
his life as a missionary to the savages. He secretly
determined to abandon that project and the college
together; and he executed his purpose after a fashion
peculiarly his own.
His first step was to cut down one of the immense
forest-trees which reared its lofty summit toward
heaven a short distance in the rear of the institution.
The trunk of this tree he gradually fashioned into
the shape of a canoe. The length of his craft was
fifty feet; its breadth was three. With the assistance of some of his fellow-students, he succeeded
in digging out the interior of the mass, and at last
this singular product of his skill and labor was
completed. His companions then aided him in
launching it upon the Connecticut River.
It was Ledyard's purpose, by means of this singular conveyance, to return to Hartford, and to float
down the current of a stream with which he was
totally unacquainted. He provided himself with a
oearskin as a cover from the inclemency of the
weather; and with a sufficient stock of provisions,
copies of the Greek Testament and Ovid, and a
paddle, he commenced this strange, adventurous
voyage. He was carried forward by the river in safety
till he approached Bellows Falls. To have passed
over these in his canoe would have entailed certain
death. Fortunately, the distant roaring of the waters
awoke him from sleep, apprized him of his danger
and enabled him to escape it by landing bis canoe and
carrying it, with the aid of the neighboring people,
around and below the cataract. He thus travelled a
hundred and fifty miles down the river in safety, or at
least without an accident, frequently passing through
dark forests and primeval wildernesses where no traces
of civilization were yet to be observed. His arrival
at Hartford in this singular manner filled his friends
with astonishment and dismay; for they imagined
that he was at that moment industriously and devoutly preparing himself at Dartmouth for his
future missionary labors among the Indians.
Ledyard now consulted with his friends what was
best to be done. Within a month after his desertion of Dartmouth College he had come to the de
termination to study theology and prepare himself
for the ministry. On this subject he conferred with
Dr. Bellamy, a celebrated preacher of that day.
To accomplish this result, to which the partial and
imprudent recommendation of the Doctor the more
encouraged him, he proceeded to Long Island, in
order to pass through his preparatory studies. But
in this  enterprise disappointment   attended   him.
23 I    I   MJIDIk     M.U.MI
It does not clearly appear whether his abandonment
of this scheme was the result of his own caprice
and inconstancy, or whether it arose from the opposition which others may have raised against him
by placing difficulties in his way; all that is now
known is that Ledyard's aspirations to the ministry,
like his devotion to the life of a missionary among
the Indians, ended in nothing. It is most probable
that his own eccentricities of conduct and character
were so great as to render the prudent and pious
very doubtful as to the propriety of his admission to
the ministry, and that hence they were induced to
oppose it.
Thus was the future destiny of Ledyard still uncertain and obscure. Having abandoned all his previous schemes, he was now open for whatever fate,
either accident or providence, might assign him; and
he next appeared in a character entirely different
from any which he had previously assumed. As he
loitered with his relations at Hartford, he fell in with
Captain Deshon, who was then about to sail from
the port of New London to Gibraltar. He engaged
himself on board his vessel as a common sailor, and
thus commenced his long-continued and most remarkable wanderings over the face of the earth.
This cruise to the Mediterranean occupied a year;
but during its progress nothing of special interest JOHN  LEDYARD.
occurred. Ledyard was now again adrift after his
return, and was ready for some new adventure.
He had often heard that his family had relations in
England who were immensely rich; and he suddenly
conceived the singular project of visiting them for
the purpose of obtaining from them some advancement in the world.
He instantly started for New York, where he
embarked on a vessel bound to Plymouth. Having
arrived at that port, he hastened to London. His
appearance was not such as to commend him to
strangers; but having discovered his English reia
tions, he endeavored to obtain an interview, to introduce himself to their acquaintance, and to profit
by their partiality. He failed ignominiously in all
his purposes. His rich relatives treated the unknown
foreigner with suspicion and contempt; and soon
Ledyard's haughty spirit induced him to repay their
indignities with other indignities equally great.
Never was Ledyard known to have reached such
a pitch of resentment and fury as that which he
displayed on this occasion.
His condition was now again friendless and miserable. A stranger in a strange land, he was surrounded by poverty and gloom. But Ledyard's intrepidity of mind in the midst of calamities was
one of his most prominent and remarkable charac- X
teristics. He never lost his courage, and his courage
now brought him relief The celebrated Captain
Cook was at that moment in London, preparing for
his third and last voyage of discovery around the
world. Ledyard called on him, explained his plans
and purposes, eharmed the hardy explorer with his
vivacity and good nature, and obtained permission
to enlist in his service as a corporal of marines.
He soon became a special favorite with this distinguished and adventurous navigator. CHAPTER H.
Ledyard had at last obtained an engagement
and a pursuit suited to his talents and character.
The third expedition of Captain Cook sailed from
England on the 12th of July, 1776. It consisted of
two ships,—the Resolution, commanded by Cook,
and the Discovery, commanded by Clerke. They
proceeded to Teneriffe, thence to the Cape of Good
Hope, and then came to anchor in Table Bay.
Cook shaped his course from that point toward the
southern extremity of New Holland, and at length
moored in the bay at Van Diem en's Land. Erom
this point he sailed to New Zealand. After various
explorations and experiences in these islands, Cook
proceeded to Tahiti, the largest of the Society
Islands. Similar researches were made throughout
this group, from which the ship proceeded to the
Friendly Islands. Resuming his voyage from this
point, Captain Cook had the good fortune to discover a new group of islands, to which he gave the
269 Bg-»uc-«-ujp«-tLiWMwm
now well-known name of Sandwich, and which till
then had never before been visited by the feet of
Europeans. He found a safe harbor here, and carried on an extensive intercourse with the simple-
minded inhabitants.
From the Sandwich Islands Cook proceeded to
the western coast of North America. He reached
Nootka Sound without any accident; and although
Ledyard was here three thousand miles distant from
the place of his birth, yet he describes in his journal the intense feeling of delight with which he
again touched the soil of his native land. Here he
formed some acquaintance with the trade and the
profits of the British and Russian Pur Company,
which information exercised an important influence
on many of his movements in subsequent years.
For the sake of illustrating the nature of Ledyard*s*
favorite occupations, as well as in order to exhibit
the literary style of the ex-student of theology and
world-wanderer, we make the following extract
from the journal which he carefully kept during
the progress of this remarkable voyage. Says he:—
" I have before observed that we had noticed many
appearances to the eastward of this of a European
intercourse, and that we had at this island in particular (Onalaska, on the northwest coast) met with
circumstances that did not only indicate such an JOHN  LEDYARD.
intercourse, but seemed strongly to intimate that
some Europeans were actually somewhere on the
spot. The appearances that led to these conjectures
were such as these. We found among the inhabitants of this island two different kinds of people:
the one we knew to be the aborigines of America,
while we supposed the others to come from the
opposite coasts of Asia. There were two different
dialects also observed; and we found them fond of
tobacco, rum, and snuff. Tobacco we even found
them possessed of, and we observed several blue
linen shirts and drawers among them. But the
most remarkable circumstance was a cake of rye-
meal newly baked, with a piece of salmon in it,
seasoned witb pepper and salt, which was brought
and presented to Cook by a comely young chief,
attended by two of those Indians whom we supposed to be Asiatics. The chief seemed anxious to
explain to Cook the meaning of the present and
the purport of his visit; and he was so far successful as to persuade him that there were some strangers in the country who were white, and had come
over the great waters in a vessel somewhat like ours,
and, though not so large, was yet much larger than
"In consequence of this, Cook was determined
to explore the island.   It was difficult, however, to •:
fix upon a plan that would at once answer the purposes of safety and expedition. An armed body
would proceed slowly, and, if they should be cut off
by the Indians, the loss in our present circumstances
would be irreparable; and a single person would
entirely risk his hfe, though he would be much
more expeditious if unmolested, and if he should
be killed the loss would be only one. The latter
seemed the best; but it was extremely hard to single
out an individual and command him to go upon
such an expedition; and it was therefore thought
proper to send a volunteer or none. I was at this
time, and indeed ever after, an intimate friend of
John Gore, first lieutenant of the Resolution, a
native of America as well as myself, and superior
to me in command. He recommended me to Captain Cook to undertake the expedition, with which
I immediately acquiesced. Captain Cook assured
me that he was happy I had undertaken it, as
he was convinced I should persevere; and, after
giving me some instructions how to proceed, he
wished me well, and desired I would not be longer
absent than a week if possible, at the expiration of
which he should expect me to return. If I did not
return by that time he should wait another week
for me, and no longer. The young chief before
mentioned and his two attendants were to be my JOHN LEDYARD.
guides. I took with me some presents adapted to
the taste of the Indians,—brandy in bottles, and
bread, but no other provisions. I went entirely
unarmed, by the advice of Captain Cook. The first
day we proceeded about fifteen miles into the interior part of the island without any remarkable
occurrence, until we approached a village just before
night. This village consisted of about thirty huts,
some of them large and spacious, though not very
high. The huts are composed of a kind of slight
frame erected over a square hole sunk about four
feet into the ground: the frame is covered at the
bottom with turf, and upward it is thatched with
coarse grass. The whole village was out to see us,
and men, women, and children crowded about me.
I was conducted, by the young chief who was my
guide and seemed proud and assiduous to serve me,
into one of the largest huts. I was surprised at the
behavior of the Indians; for, though they were
curious to see me, yet they did not express that
extraordinary curiosity that would be expected had
they never seen a European before, and I was glad
to perceive it, as it was an evidence in favor of what I
wished to find,—namely, that there were Europeans
now among them. The women of the house, which
were almost the only ones I had seen at this island,
were much more tolerable than I expected to find
S w
them: one in particular seemed very busy to please
me: to her, therefore, I made several presents, with
which she was extremely well pleased. As it was
now dark, my young chief intimated to me that we
must tarry where we were that night and proceed
farther the next day, to which I very readily consented, being much fatigued. Our entertainment
the subsequent part of the evening did not consist
of delicacies or much variety: they had dried fish,
and I had bread and spirits, of which we all participated. Ceremony was not invited to the feast, and
nature presided over the entertainment.
" At daylight Perpheela (which was the name of
the young chief that was my guide) let me know
that he was ready to go on; upon which I flung off
the skins I had slept in, put on my shoes and outside vest, and arose to accompany him, repeating
my presents to my friendly hosts. We had hitherto
travelled in a northerly direction, but now went to
the westward and southward. I was now so much
relieved from the apprehension of any insult or injury from the Indians, that my journey would have
been agreeable had I not been taken lame with a
swelling in the feet, which rendered it extremely
painful to walk: the country was also rough and
liilly, and the weather wet and cold. About three
hours before dark we came to a large bay, which
1———^-—^— JOHN  LEDYARD
appeared to be tour leagues over. Here my guide,
Perpheela, took a canoe and all our baggage and
set off, seemingly to cross the bay. He appeared
to leave me in an abrupt manner, and told me to
follow the two attendants. This gave me some
uneasiness. I now followed Perpheela's two attendants, keeping the bay in view; but we had not gone
above six miles before we saw a canoe approaching
us from the opposite side of the bay, in which were
two Indians. As soon as my guides saw the canoe,
we ran to the shore from the hills and hailed them,
and, finding they did not hear us, we got some
bushes and waved them in the air, which they saw
and stood directly for us. This canoe was sent by
Perpheela to bring me across the bay and shorten
the distance of the journey.
"It was beginning to be dark when the canoe
came to us. It was a skin canoe, after the Esquimaux plan, with two holes to accommodate two
iitters. The Indians that came in the canoe talked
a little with my two guides, and then came to me
and desired that I would get into the canoe. This I
did not very readily agree to, however, as there was
no other place for me but to be thrust into the space
between the holes, extended at length upon my
back, and wholly excluded from seeing the way I
went, or the power of extricating myself upon any
1 Kin.
emergency. But, as there was no alternative, I submitted thus to be stowed away in bulk, and went,
head foremost, very swift through the water about
an hour, when I felt the canoe strike a beach, and
afterward lifted up and carried some distance and
then set down again; after which I was drawn out
by the shoulders by three or four men, for it was
now so dark that I could not tell who they were,
though I was conscious I heard a language that was
new. I was conducted by two of these persons,
who appeared to be strangers, about forty rods,
when I saw lights and a number of huts like those
I left in the morning. As we approached one of
them, a door opened and discovered a lamp, by
which, to my joy and surprise, I discovered that the
two men who held me by each arm were Europeans,
fair and comely, and concluded from their appearance they were Russians, which I soon after found
to be true. As we entered the hut, which was particularly long, I saw arranged on each side, on a
platform of plank, a number of Indians, who all
bowed to me; and as I advanced to the farther end
of the hut there were other Russians. When I
reached the end of the room I was seated on a
bench covered with fur-skins; and, as I was much
fatigued, wet, and cold, I had a change of garments
brought me, consisting of a blue silk shirt and JOHN  LEDYARD.
drawers, a fur cap, boots, and gown, all of which I
put on with the same cheerfulness they were presented with. Hospitality is a virtue peculiar to man,
and the obligation is as great to receive as to confer.
As soon as I was rendered warm and comfortable,
a table was set before me with a lamp upon it: all
the Russians in the house sat down round me, and
the bottles of spirits, tobacco, snuff, and whatever
Perpheela had, were brought and set upon it: these
I presented to the company, intimating that they
were presents from Commodore Cook, who was an
Englishman. One of the company then gave me
to understand that all the white people I saw there
were subjects of the Empress Catherine of Russia,
and rose and kissed my hand, the rest uncovering
their heads. I then informed them as well as I
could that Commodore Cook wanted to see some of
them, and had sent me there to conduct them to
our ships.
"These preliminaries over, we had supper, which
consisted of boiled whale, halibut fried in oil, and
broiled salmon. The latter I ate, and they gave me
rye-bread, but would eat none of it themselves.
They were very fond of the rum, which they drank
without any mixture or measure. I had a very
comfortable bed, composed of different fur-skins,
both under and over me, and, being harassed the
cf m
preceding day, I went soon to rest. After I had
lain down, the Russians assembled the Indians in a
very silent manner, and said prayers after the manner of the Greek Church, which is much like the
Roman. I could not but observe with what particular satisfaction the Indians performed their devoirs
to God through the medium of their little crucifixes, and with what pleasure they went through the
-multitude of ceremonies attendant on that sort of
worship. I think it a religion the best calculated in
the world to gain proselytes, when the people are
either unwilling or unable to speculate, or when
they cannot be made acquainted with the history
and principles of Christianity without a formal
" I had a very comfortable night's rest, and did
not wake the next morning until late. As soon as
I was up, I was conducted to a hut a little distance
from the one I had slept in, where I saw a number
of platforms raised about three feet from the ground,
and covered with dry, coarse grass and some small,
green bushes. There were several of the Russians
already here, besides those that conducted me,
and several Indians, who were heating water in a
large copper caldron over a furnace, the .heat of
which and the steam which evaporated from the
hot water rendered the hut, which was very tight*
extremely hot and suffocating.    I soon understood
this was a hot bath, of which I was asked to make
use in a friendly manner.   The apparatus being a
little curious, I consented to it; but, before I had
finished undressing myself, I was overcome by the
sudden ehange of the air, fainted away, and fell
back on the platform I was sitting on.   I was, however, soon relieved by having cold and lukewarrn
water administered to my face and different parts
of my body.    I finished undressing and proceeded
as I saw the rest do, who were now all undressed.
The Indians who served us brought us, as we sat or
extended ourselves on the platforms, water of different temperatures,—from that which was as hot as we
could bear to quite cold.     The hot water was accompanied with some hard soap and a flesh-brush:
it was not, however, thrown on the body from the
dish, but sprinkled on with the green bushes.  After
this the water made use of was less warm, and
by several gradations became at last quite cold,
which concluded the ceremony.    We again dressed
and returned to our lodgings, where our breakfast
was smoking on the table;  but the flavor of our
feast, as well as its appearance, had nearly produced
a relapse in my spirits, and no doubt would if I
had not had recourse to some of the brandy I had
brought, which happily saved me.   I was a good
MP 280
deal uneasy lest the cause of my discomposure
should disoblige my friends, who meant to treat me
in the best manner they could. I therefore attributed my illness to the bath, which might possibly
have partly occasioned it, for I am not very subject
to fainting. I could eat none of the breakfast,
however, though far from wanting an appetite. It
was mostly of whale, sea-horse, and bear, which,
though smoked, dried, and boiled, produced a composition of smells very offensive at nine or ten in
the morning. I therefore desired to have a jjiece
of smoked salmon broiled dry, which I ate with
some of my own biscuit.
"After breakfast I intended to set off on ray
return to the ships, though there came on a disagreeable snow-storm. But my new-found friends
objected to it, and gave me to understand that I
should go the next day, and, if I chose, three of
them would accompany me. This I immediately
agreed to, as it anticipated a favor I intended to ask
them, though I before much doubted whether they
would comply with it. I amused myself withindoors while it snowed without by writing down a
few words of the original languages of the American
Indians, and of the Asiatics who came over to this
coast with these Russians from Kamtschatka.
" In the afternoon the weather cleared up, and 1 JOHN  LEDYARD.
went out to see how those Russian adventurers were
situated. I found the whole village to contain about
thirty huts, all of which were built partly under
ground, and covered with turf at the bottom and
coarse grass at the top. The., only circumstance
that can recommend them is their warmth, which is
occasioned partly by their manner of construction,
and partly by a kind of oven in which they constantly keep a fire night and day. They sleep on
platforms built on each side of the hut, on which
they have a number of bear and other skins which
render them comfortable; and, as they have been
educated in a hardy manner, they need little or no
other support than what they procure from the sea
and from hunting. The number of Russians was
about thirty, and they had with them about seventy
Kamtschadales, or Indians from Kamtschatka.
These,«with some of the American Indians, whom
they had entered into friendship with; occupied the
village, enjoyed every benefit in common with the
Russians, and were converts to their religion. Such
other of the aborigines of the island as had not
become converts to their sentiments in religious
and civil matters were excluded from such privileges, and were prohibited from wearing certain
"I also found a small sloop, of about thirty tons'
24* as
burden, lying in a cove behind the village, and a
hut near her containing her sails, cordage, and other
sea-equipage, and one old iron three-pounder. It
is natural to an ingenious mind, when it enters a
town, a house, or ship, that has been rendered
famous by any particular event, to feel the full force
of that pleasure which results from gratifying a
noble curiosity. I was no sooner informed that
this sloop was the same in which the famous Behring
had performed those discoveries which did him so
much honor and his country so much service, than
I was determined to go on board of her and indulge
the generous feelings the occasion inspired. I intimated my wishes to the man that acccompanied
me, who went back to the village and brought a
canoe, in which we went on board, where I remained
about an hour and then returned. This little bark
belonged to Kamtschatka, and came from thence with
the Asiatics already mentioned to this island, which
they called Onalaska, in order to establish a pelt
and fur factory. They had been here about five
years, and go over to Kamtschatka in her once a
year to deliver their merchandise and get a recruit
of such supplies as they need from the chief factory
there, of which I shall take further notice hereafter.
"The next day I set off from this village, well
satisfied with the happv issue of a tour which was JOHN LEDYARD.
now as agreeable as it was at first undesirable. I
was accompanied by three of the principal Russians
and some attendants. We embarked at the village
in a large skin boat, much like our large whale-
boats, rowing with twelve oars; and, as we struck
directly across the bay, we shortened our distance
several miles, and the next day, passing the same
village I had before been at, we arrived by sunset
at the bay where the ships lay, and before dark I
got on board with my new acquaintances. The
satisfaction this discovery gave Cook, and the honor
that redounded to me, may be easily imagined, and
the several conjectures respecting the appearance
of a foreign intercourse were rectified and confirmed."
Having left the continent, Cook steered again
for the Sandwich Islands. After a voyage of two
months he reached the Bay of Hawaii. He and his
associates were at first received by the chiefs and
the inhabitants of the island with the most friendly
welcome. The populous villages which clustered
along the shores of the capacious bay poured out
their joyous inhabitants to receive him. They
bought and sold, and made reciprocal presents; but,
before two weeks had expired, symptoms of unfriendliness and suspicion on the part of the natives
began to appear    Ledyard thus pictures some of the 4,
i »i
tropical scenes which he witnessed in the interior
of this fertile and beautiful gem of the ocean, in
consequence of his having made a request to be
permitted to explore it:—
"The request was granted. The botanist and the
gunner of the Resolution were deputed by the commander to accompany him. Natives were also engaged to carry the baggage and serve as guides
through the woods. A tropical sun was then pouring its rays on them at the Bay of Kearakekua; but
the snows visible on the pe,ak of Mouna Roa warned
them to provide additional clothing, and guard
against the effects of a sudden transition from heat
to cold. The party at length set off. On first leaving the town, their route lay through enclosed plantations of sweet potatoes, with a soil of lava, tilled
in some places with difficulty. Now and then a
patch of sugarcane was seen in a moist place. Next
came the open plantations, consisting chiefly of
bread-fruit trees, and the land began to ascend more
"We continued up the ascent," he writes, "to
the distance of a mile and a half farther, and found
the land thick covered with wild fern, among which
our botanist found a new species. It was now near
sunset, and, being upon the skirts of these woods
that so remarkably surrounded this island at a uni- JOHN LEDYARD.
form distance of four or i\ve miles from the shore,
we concluded to halt, especially as there was a hut
hard by that would afford us a better retreat during
the night than what we might expect if we proceeded. When we reached the hut, we found it
inhabited by an elderly man, his wife and daughter,
an emblem of innocent, uninstructed beauty. They
were somewhat discomposed at our appearance and
equipment, and would have left their house through
fear, had not the Indians who accompanied us
persuaded them otherwise, and at last reconciled
them to us. We sat down together before the door,
and from the height of the situation we had a complete retrospective view of our route, of the town,
of part of the bay, and one of our ships, besides an
extensive prospect on the ocean and a distant view
of three of the neighboring islands.
"As we had proposed remaining at this hut
through the night, and were willing to preserve
what provisions we had ready dressed, we purchased
a little pig and had him dressed by our host, who,
finding his account in his visitants, bestirred himself and soon had it ready. After supper we had
some of our brandy diluted with the mountain-
water; and we had so long been confined to the
poor brackish water at the bay below that it was a
kind of nectar to us.   As soon as the sun was set,
SiH I ;r
;i 4
we found a considerable difference in the state of
the air. At night a heavy dew fell; and we felt it
very chilly, and had recourse to our blankets, notwithstanding we were in the hut. The next morning, when we came to enter the woods, we found
there had been a heavy rain, though none of it had
approached us, notwithstanding we were within two
hundred yards of the skirts of the forest. And it
seemed to be a matter of fact, both from the information of the natives and our own observations,
that neither the rains nor the dews descended lower
than where the woods terminated, unless- at the
equinoxes or some periodical conjuncture, by which
means the space between the woods and the shore
is rendered warm and fit for the purpose of culture
and the vegetation of tropical productions. We
traversed these woods by a compass, keeping a
direct course for the peak, and were so happy the
first day as to find a footpath that tended nearly our
due course, by which means we travelled by estimation about fifteen miles; and, though it would have
been no extraordinary march had circumstances
been different, yet, as we found them, we thought
it a very great one; for it was not only excessively
miry and rough, but the way was mostly an ascent,
and we had been unused to walking, and especially
to carrying such loads as we had.   Our Indian com JOHN LEDYARD.
panions were much more fatigued than we were,
though they had nothing to carry, and, what displeased us very much, would not carry any thing.
Our botanical researches delayed us somewhat. The
sun had not set when we halted; yet, meeting with
a situation that pleased us, and not being limited as
to time, we spent the remaining part of the day as
humor dictated,—some in botanizing, and those who
had fowling-pieces with them, in shooting. For my
part, I could not but think the present appearance
of our encampment claimed a part of our attention,
and therefore set about some alterations and amendments. It was the trunk of a tree, that had fallen
by the side of the path, and lay with one end transversely over another tree, that had fallen before in
an opposite direction; and as it measured twenty-
two feet in circumference, and lay four feet from the
ground, it afforded a very good shelter except at
the sides, which defect I supplied by large pieces of
bark and a good quantity of boughs, which rendered
it very commodious. We slept through the night
under it much better than we had done the preceding, notwithstanding there was a heavy dew and
the air cold.
"The next morning we set out in good spirits,
hoping that day to reach the snowy peak; but we
had not gone a mile before the path that had hitherto n
so much facilitated our progress began not only
to take a direction southward of west, but had been
so little frequented as to be almost effaced. In this
situation we consulted our Indian convoy, but to no
purpose. We then advised among ourselves, and
at length concluded to proceed by the nearest route
without any beaten track, and went in this manner
about four miles farther, finding the way even more
steep and rough than we had yet experienced, but
above all impeded by such impenetrable thickets as
to render it impossible for us to proceed any farther.
We therefore abandoned our design, and, returning
in our track, reached the retreat we had improved
the last night, having been the whole day in walking only about ten miles,—and we had been very
assiduous too. We found the country here, as well
as on the sea-shore, universally overspread with lava,
and also saw several subterranean excavations that
had every appearance of past eruption and fire.
Our botanist to-day met with great success, and we
had also shot a number of fine birds of the liveliest
and most variegated plumage that any of us had
ever met with; but we heard no melody among
them. Except these, we saw no other kind of birds
but the screech-owl, neither did we see any kind of
quadruped; but we caught several curious insects.
The woods here are thick and luxuriant, the largest JOHN  LEDYARD.
trees being nearly thirty feet in the girth, and these,
with the shrubbery underneath, and the whole intersected with vines, render it very umbrageous,
" The next day, about two in the afternoon, we
cleared the woods by our old route, and by six
o'clock reached the tents, having penetrated about
twenty-four miles, and, we supposed, within eleven
of the peak. Our Indians were extremely fatigued,
though they had no baggage."
After sojourning twenty days at Hawaii, Captain
Cook weighed anchor and sailed away. A furious
storm compelled him to return, and during the
succeeding days those unfortunate disputes arose
between the commander and tjie inhabitants of the
island, which eventually led to the assassination of
Captain Cook, and the premature termination of the
life and adventures of one of the most remarkable
navigators of modern times. The incidents connected
with this event have often been narrated; but, as
Ledyard was an eye-witness of the memorable scene,
and as his account is doubtless the most accurate and
trustworthy which has ever been given, we here extract it, notwithstanding its length, from his journal:
" Our return to this bay was as disagreeable to us
as it was to the inhabitants, for we were reciprocally tired of each other. They had been oppressed
and were weary of our prostituted alliance, and we
25 Mm
were aggrieved by the consideration of wanting the
provisions and refreshments of the country, which
we had every reason to suppose from their behavior
antecedent to our departure, would now be withheld from us, or brought in such small quantities as
to be worse than none. What we anticipated was
true. When we entered the bay, where before we
had the shouts of thousands to welcome our arrival,
we had the mortification not to see a single canoe,
and hardly any inhabitants in the towns. Cook
was chagrined and his people w^re soured. Toward
night, however, the canoes came in; but the provisions both in quantity and quality plainly informed
us that times were altered; and what was very remarkable was the exorbitant price they asked and
the particular fancy they all at once took to iron
daggers or dirks, which were the only articles that
were anyways current with the chiefs at least. It
was also equally evident from the looks of the natives, as well as every other appearance, that our
former friendship was at an end, and that we had
nothing to do but to hasten our departure to some
different island, where our vices were not known,
and where our intrinsic virtues might gain us
another short space of being wondered at and
doing as we pleased, or, as our tars expressed it, of
being happy by the month. JOHN  LEDYARD.
"Nor was their passive appearance of disgust all
we had to fear, nor did it continue long. Before dark
a canoe with a number of armed chiefs came alongside of us without provisions, and, indeed, without any
perceptible design. After staying a short time only,
they went* to the Discovery, where a part of them
went on board. Here they affected great friendship;
and, fortunately, overacting it, Clerke was suspicious,
and ordered two sentinels on the gangways. These
men were purposely sent by the chief who had
formerly been so very intimate with Clerke and
afterward so ill treated by him with the charge of
stealing his j oily-boat. They came with a determination of mischief, and effected it. After they were
all returned to the canoe but one, they got their
paddles and every thing ready for a start. Those
in the canoes, observing the sentry to be watchful,
took off his attention by some conversation that
they knew would be pleasing to him, and by this
means favored the designs of the man on board,
who, watching his opportunity, snatched two pairs
of tongs, and other iron tools that then lay close by
the armorers at work at the forge, and, mounting
the gangway-rail, with one leap threw himself and
his goods into the canoe, that was then upon the
move, and, taking up his paddle, joined the others;
and, standing directly for the shore, they were out =f==p5^^=
of our reach almost instantaneously, even before a
musket could be had from the arms-chest to fire at
them. The sentries had only hangers. This was
the boldest exploit that had yet been attempted, and
had a bad aspect Clerke immediately sent to the
commodore, who advised him to send a boat on
shore to endeavor at least to regain the goods, if
they could not the men who took them; but the
errand was as ill executed as contrived, and the
master of the Discovery was glad to return with a
severe drubbing from the very chief who had been
so maltreated by Clerke. The crew were also pelted
with stones and had all their oars broken, and they
had not a single weapon in the boat, not even a cutlass, to defend themselves. When Cook heard of
this, he went armed himself in person to the guard
on shore, took a file of marines, and went through
the whole town, demanding restitution, and threatening the delinquents and their abettors with the
severest punishment; but, not being able to effect
any thing, he came off just at sunset, highly displeased, and not a little concerned at the bad appearance of things. But even this was nothing to
what followed.
"On the 13th, at night, the Discovery's large
cutter, which was at her usual moorings at the
bower buoy, was taken away.    On the 14th the JOHN  LEDYARD.
captains met to consult what should be done on
this alarming occasion; and the issue of their opinions was, that one of the two captains should land
with armed boats and a guard of marines at Kiverua,
and attempt to persuade Teraiobu, who was then at
his house* in that town, to come on board upon a
visit, and that when he was on board he should be
kept prisoner until his subjects should release him
by a restitution of the cutter; and, if it was afterward thought proper, he, or some of the family who
might accompany him, should be kept as perpetual
hostages for the good behavior of the people during
the remaining part of our continuance at Keara-
kekua. This plan was the more approved of by
Cook, as he had so repeatedly on former occasions
to the southward employed it with success. Clerke
was then in a deep decline of his health, and too
feeble to undertake the affair, though it naturally
devolved upon him, as a point of duty not well
transferable: he therefore begged Cook to oblige
him so much as to take that part of the business
of the day upon himself in his stead. This Cook
agreed to, but previous to his landing made some
additional arrangements, respecting the possible
events of things, though it is certain, from the appearance of the subsequent arrangements, that he
guarded more against the flight of Teraiobu, or
25* ==_,
1  I
1 il
those he could wish to see, than from an attack, or
even much insult. The disposition of our guards,
when the movements began, was thus: Cook in
his pinnace with six private marines; a corporal,
sergeant, and two lieutenants of marines went
ahead, followed by the launch with other marines
and seamen on one quarter^ and the small cutter on
the other, with only the crew on board. This part
of the guard rowed for Kearakekua. Our large
cutter and two boats from the Discovery had orders
to proceed to the mouth of the bay, form at equal
distances across, and prevent any communication
by water from any other part of the island to the
towns within the bay, or from those without. Cook
landed at Kiverua about nine o'clock in the morning, with the marines in the pinnace, and went by a
circuitous march to the house of Teraiobu, in order
to evade the suspicion of any design. This route
led through a considerable part of the town, which
discovered every symptom of mischief—though
Cook, blinded by some fatal cause, could not perceive it, or, too self-confident, would not regard it.
"The town was evacuated by the women and
children, who had retired to the circumjacent
hills, and appeared almost destitute of men; but
there were at that time two hundred chiefs, and
more than twice that number of other men, de* JOHN  LEDYARD.
taohed and secreted in different parts of the houses
nearest to Teraiobu, exclusive of unknown numbers
without the skirts of the town; and those that were
seen were dressed, many of them, in black. When
the guard reached Teraiobu's house, Cook ordered
the lieutenant of marines to go in and see if he was
at home, and, if he was, to bring him out. The lieutenant went in, and found the old man sitting with
two or three old women of distinction; and when
he gave Teraiobu to understand that Cook was
without and wanted to see him, he discovered the
greatest marks of uneasiness, but arose and accompanied the lieutenant out, holding bis hand. When
he came before Cook he squatted down upon his
hams as a mark of humiliation, and Cook took him
by the hand from the lieutenant, and conversed
with him.
"The appearance of our parade both by water
and on shore, though conducted with the utmost
silence, and with as little ostentation as possible,
had alarmed the towns on both sides of the bay,
but particularly Kiverua, where the people were in
complete order for an onset: otherwise it would
have been a matter of surprise, that though Cook
did not see twenty men in passing through the
town, yet, before he had conversed ten minutes
with Teraiobu, he was surrounded by three or four 296
hundred people, and above half of them chiefs.
Cook grew uneasy when he observed this, and was
the more urgent in his persuasions with Teraiobu
to go on board, and actually persuaded the old man
to go at length, and led him within a rod or two of
the shore; but the just fears and conjectures of the
chiefs at last interposed. They held the old man
back, and one of the chiefs threatened Cook when
he attempted to make them quit Teraiobu. Some
of the crowd now cried out that Cook was going to
take their king from them to kill him; and there
was one in particular that advanced toward Cook in
an attitude that alarmed one of the guard, who presented his bayonet and opposed him, acquainting
Cook in the mean time of the danger of his situation, and that the Indians in a few minutes would
attack him,—that he had overheard the man whom
he had just stopped from rushing in upon him say
that our boats which were out in the harbor had
just killed his brother, and he would be revenged.
Cook attended to what this man said, and desired
him to show him the Indian that had dared to
attempt a combat with him; and, as soon as he was
pointed out, Cook fired at him with a blank. The
Indian, perceiving he received no damage from the
fire, rushed from without the crowd a second time,
and threatened any one that should oppose him. JOHN LEDYARD.
Cook, perceiving this, fired a ball, which entering
the Indian's groin, he fell and was drawn off by the
" Cook perceiving the people determined to oppose his designs, and that he should not succeed
without further bloodshed, ordered the lieutenant
of marines, Mr. Phillips, to withdraw his men and
get them into the boats, which were then lying
ready to receive them. This was effected by the
sergeant; but the instant they began to retreat,
Cook was hit with a stone, and, perceiving the man
who threw it, shot him dead. The officer in the
boats, observing the guards retreat and hearing this
third discharge, ordered the boats to fire. This
occasioned the guard to face about and fire, and then
the attack became general. Cook and Mr. Phillips
were together a few paces in the rear of the guard,
and, perceiving a general fire without orders, quitted
Teraiobu and ran to the shore to put a stop to it;
but, not being able to make themselves heard, and
being close pressed upon by the chiefs, they joined
the guard, who fired as they retreated. Cook,
having at length reached the margin of the water,
between the fire of the boats, waved with his hat
for them to cease firing and come in; and, while he
was doing this, a chief from behind stabbed him
with one of our iron daggers, just under the shoul- HI m
1 it           111
der-blade, and it passed quite through his body.
Cook fell with his face in the water and immediately
expired. Mr. Phillips, not being able any longer
to use his fusee, drew his sword, and, engaging the
chief whom he saw kill Cook, soon despatched him.
His guard in the mean time were all killed but two,
and they had plunged into the water and were
swimming to the boats. He stood thus for some
time the butt of all their force, and, being as complete in the use of his sword as he was accomplished,
his noble achievements struck the barbarians with
awe; but being wounded, and growing faint from
loss of bteod and excessive action, he plunged into
the sea with his sword in his hand and swam to the
boats; where, however, he was scarcely taken on
board, before somebody saw one of the marines
that had swam from the shore lying flat upon the
bottom. Phillips, hearing this, ran aft, threw himself in after him, and brought him up with him to
the surface of the water, and both were taken in.
" The boats had hitherto kept up a very hot fire,
and, lying off without the reach of any weapon but
stones, had received no damage; and, being fully at
leisure to keep up an unremitted and uniform
action, made great havoc among the Indians, particularly among the chiefs, who stood foremost in
the crowd and were most exposed; but whether it
was from their bravery, or ignorance of the real
cause that deprived so many of them of life, that
they made such a stand, may be questioned, since
it is certain that they in general, if not universally,
understood heretofore that it was the fire only of
our arms that destroyed them. This opinion seems
to be strengthened by the circumstance of the large,
thick mats they were observed to wear, which were
also constantly kept wet; and, furthermore, the
Indian that Cook fired at with a blank discovered
no fear when he found his mat unburnt. savins: in
their language, when he showed it to the by-stand-
ers, that no fire had touched it. This may be supposed at least to have had some influence. It is,
however, certain, whether from one or both these
causes, that the numbers that fell made no apparent
impression on those who survived: they were immediately taken off, and had their places supplied in
a constant succession.
I Lieutenant Gore, who commanded as first lieutenant under Cook in the Resolution, which lay
opposite the place where this attack was made, perceiving with his glass that the guard on shore was
cut off, and that Cook had fallen, immediately
passed.a spring upon one of the cables, and, bringing the ship's starboard guns to bear, fired two
r^und-shot over the boats into the middle of the
Mi t Q00
crowd; and both the thunder of the cannon and
the effects of the shot operated so powerfully that
it produced a most precipitate retreat from the shore
to the town.
"Our mast that was repairing at Kearakekua,
and our astronomical tents, were protected only by
a corporal and six marines, exclusive of the carpenters at work upon it, and demanded immediate
protection. As soon, therefore, as the people were
refreshed with some grog and reinforced, they were
ordered thither. In the mean time, the marine who
had been taken up by Mr. Phillips discovered returning life, and seemed in a way to recover, and we
found Mr. Phillips's wound not dangerous, though
very bad. We also observed at Kiverua that our
dead were drawn off by the Indians, which was a
mortifying sight; but after the boats were gone
they did it in spite of our cannon, which were
firing at them several minutes. They had no sooner
effected this matter than they retired to the hills
to avoid our shot. The expedition to BSverua had
taken up about an hour and a half, and we lost,
besides Cook, a corporal and three marines.
" Notwithstanding the despatch that was used in
sending a force to Kearakekua, the small party there
were already attacked before their arrival, but, by
an excellent manoeuvre of taking possession of the JOHN  LEDYARD.
Morai, they defended themselves, without any material damage, until the succours came.    The natives
did not attempt to molest the boats in their debarkation of our people, which we much wondered
at; and they soon joined the others upon the Morai,
amounting in the whole to about sixty.    Mr. Phillips, notwithstanding his wound, was present, and,
in conjunction with Lieutenant King, carried the
chief command.    The plan was to act only defensively, until we could get our mast into the
water, to tow off, and our tents into the boats; and,
as  soon as that was effected, to return on board.
This we did in about an hour's time, but not without killing a number of the natives, who resolutely
attacked us, and endeavored to mount the walls of
the Morai where they were lowest; but, being opposed with our skill in such modes of attack, and
the great superiority of our arms, they were even
repulsed with loss, and at length retreated among
the houses adjacent to the Morai, which affording a
good opportunity to retreat to our boats, we embraced it, and got off all well.    Our mast was taken
on the booms and repaired there, though to disadvantage."
After Ledyard's return from his voyage with
Captain Cook, he remained two years in the British
navy, in some subordinate capacity which is now
unknown. In December, 1782, he returned to the
United States on board a British man-of-war. His
first desire was to visit his mother, who still resided
at Southold. The meeting between them was affecting in the extreme; for one of the greatest merits
of the disposition and character of Ledyard was
his affectionate regard for his mother. From
Southold he proceeded to Hartford, where he remained four months, and wrote his published narrative of the last voyage of Captain Cook.
Ledyard now resumed his plans and speculations
in reference to his favorite project of a trading-
voyage to the Northwest coast. His, observation
had led him to believe that an immense profit might
be made by the sale of furs which were to be purchased from the natives.   But to carry out his plans
a ship and other proper facilities were necessary.
In order to obtain a partner possessing the requisite
means, he visited New York and Philadelphia, and
did his utmost to enlist the interest of some opulent
ship-merchants. He labored and argued in vain.
Scores of shrewd and enterprising merchants in
those cities refused and derided the very same enterprise which, in after-years, built the colossal fortune of J. J. Astor. At length, in despair of accomplishing any thing in his own country, Ledyard
sought and obtained a passage to Europe. On the
1st of June, 1784, he sailed for Cadiz. He had
been led to believe that he should find patrons in
the city of L'Orient. He was still very poor, and
found much difficulty in obtaining the means of
travel to that city. Having arrived, he immediately
presented himself with his letters of recommendation to the leading merchants of the place. At
first his earnest representations and his glowing
arguments in favor of his commercial scheme, enlisted their sympathy and favor. They agreed to
despatch a vessel to the designated coast; but
they found the season too late for that year, and
were compelled to postpone the execution of the
plan to the next. Ledyard spent the winter in
L'Orient in restless impatience, waiting for the
spring to open.    When that period arrived, the .
merchants who had promised to undertake the
enterprise for some reason refused to fulfil their
engagements, and abandoned it. All the brilliant
hopes of Ledyard were thus again disappointed and
he himself overwhelmed with despair. His means
were exhausted. After fifteen years' experience of
the world, he still remained without having accomplished a single purpose upon which he had set his
heart, or which was worthy of his genius.
He nevertheless bore up manfully against his
adverse and unpropitious fate. He proceeded to
Paris, and there visited the American minister, Mft
Jefferson. He was received with great kindness by
that liberal-minded statesman, who at once appreciated the largeness and the sagacity of his views.
He introduced Ledyard to the celebrated Paul
Jones. The latter became interested in the specu*
lations and theories of Ledyard, and proposed to
realize them. Two vessels were to be chartered for
the purpose and commissioned by the king, Louis
XVI. After being deeply interested in the enterprise for a short time, Jones suddenly cooled in his
ardor, demurred to the arrangements proposed,
and eventually abandoned the project entirely.
Thus was Ledyard again adrift in the world, with
the bad fortune which usually attended him. During
his residence in Paris he saw much of the court, JOHN  LEDYARD.
and even had glimpses of the royal family,—that
ill-fated family whose terrible misfortunes were soon
to begin, and were to end so ignominiously on the
scaffold. The distant and subdued mutterings of
that fearful revolution which shook every throne in
Europe were already faintly heard. The contemporary observations of this astute traveller on the
existing state of things in France, as recorded in
his journal, are worthy of note. We make an extract
from it as illustrative of his views and opinions:
"Paris is situated in an extended plain, rising on
all sides into gradual elevations, and some little hills
happily interspersed in the borders of its horizon.
Its extent, viewed from the tower of Notre Dame,
appeared to me less than London, though it must
be larger. The public buildings are numerous, and
some of them magnificent. Paris is the centre of
France, and its centre is the Palais Royal, the resort
of the greatest virtues and the greatest vices of
such a kingdom. It is France in miniature, and no
friend to France should ever see it. The Tuileries
afford a consummate display of artificial elegance
and grandeur; the gardens of the Luxembourg are
much inferior. The Boulevards were originally
fortifications, and they now form a broad way that
surrounds the city, separating it from the suburbs.
If is well lined with fine umbrageoua elms on each
11H 306
I   I'll
side, forming a beautiful course for coaches and
horsemen; but the farmers-general, to prevent illicit
trade, are walling it in, at the expense of a thousand lamentations of the Parisians and several
millions of livres. I have been once at the king's
library. Papa Franklin, as the French here call
him, is among a number of statues that I saw.
The bust of Paul Jones is also there. Did you
ever know that Captain Jones was two or three
nights successively crowned with laurels, at the
great Opera House in Paris, after the action between
the Bon Homme Richard and the Serapis ?
"I find at our minister's table between fifteen
and twenty Americans, inclusive of two or three
ladies. It is very remarkable that we are neither
despised nor envied for our love of liberty, but very
often caressed. I was yesterday at Versailles. It
was the feast of St. Louis; but I never feasted so ill
in all my life as at the hotel where I dined, and never
paid so dear for a dinner. I was too late to see the
procession of the king and queen; but I was little
disappointed on that account, as I had already seen
those baubles. The king I saw a fortnight before
to very great advantage, being near to him while he
was shooting partridges in the fields. He was
dressed in common musquito trowsers, a short linen
frock, and an old laced hat without a cockade.   He JOHN LEDYARD.
had an easy, gentlemanly appearance; and, had it
not been for his few attendants, I should have taken
him for the captain of a merchant-ship amusing
himself in the field. The palace at Versailles, and
its gardens, are an ornament to the face of the globe.
It was dirty weather. I wore boots, and, consequently, was prohibited from visiting the galleries.
I was in company with our Mr. Barclay, Colonel
Franks of the American army, a young Virginian,
and an English sea-officer. Franks was booted too;
bnt, though honest Tom Barclay was not, he had no
bag on, and they were dismissed also: so that boots
on and bags off are sad recommendations at the
court of Versailles, te
"If the two Fitzhughs remain in town a week
longer, you shall have a week's detail. They dine
with me to-day in my chamber, together with our
worthy Consul Barclay, and that lump of universality, Colonel Franks. But such a set of moneyless rascals have never appeared since the epoch of
the happy villain Falstaff. I have hut five French
crowns in the world; Franks has not a sol; and the
Fitzhughs cannot get their tobacco-money.
" Mr. Jefferson is an able minister, and our country may repose a confidence in him equal to their
best wishes. Whether in public or private, he is, in
every word and every action, the representative of
a young, vigorous, and determined state. His only
competitors here, even in political fame, are Ver-
gennes and La Fayette. In other accomplishments
he stands alone. The Marquis de la Fayette is one
of the most growing characters in this kingdom.
He has planted a tree in America and sits under its
shade at Versailles. He is now at the court of old
Frederick. I am sure that you could not yourself
have manifested more alacrity to serve me than he
has done. The marqitis is a warm friend to America. It will be difficult for any subsequent plenipotentiary to have as much personal influence in
France as Dr. Franklin had; it will at least be so
till the causes which created that venerable patriots
ascendency shall become less recent in the minds
of the people. I had the pleasure of being but
once at his house before his departure; and, although
bent down with age and infirmities, the excellent
old man exhibited all the good cheer of health, the
gay philosopher, and the kindness of a friendly
"It has been a holiday to-day,—the nativity of the
Virgin Mary. My friend, the Abbe* D'Aubrey, tells
me that they have but eighty-two holidays in the
year which are publicly regarded. But this is a
mistake: they have more. We both agree that they
have eighty-two less than they formerly had.    There JOHN LEDYARD.
•re certainly a hundred days in this city every year
whereon all the shops are shut and there is a general suspension of business,—for the good policy of
which, let them look to it. You will hear in your
papers of an affair between a certain cardinal and
the Queen of France. It has been the topic of
conversation here for thirty days; and forty fools,
that have expressed themselves too freely in the
matter for the police, are already in the Bastille.
We have news to-day that the king will have him
tried by the Parliament, and has written to that
dying meteor, the pope, not to meddle in the business.
"I was late home yesterday evening from the
feast of St. Cloud, held at a little town of that
name on the bank of the Seine. It is particularly
remarkable for having the queen's gardens in it,
and a house for the queen, called a palace. The
chief circumstance which renders the village a place
of curiosity to strangers is the water-works, which,
after the labor of many years and vast expense,
exhibit a sickly cascade, and three jets d'eau, or
fountains, that cast water into the air. The largest
of these throws out a column as big as a man's arm,
which rises about thirty yards. In the evening I
entered a part of the gardens where some fireworks
were played off*.   The tickets were twenty-four sols. 310
The nreworks were very few, but good. This little
rustic entertainment of the queen's was, with great
propriety, attended with very little parade about her
person. It was a mere rural revel; and never before
did I see majesty and tag-rag so philosophically
blended,—a few country fiddlers scraping, and Kate
of the mill tripping it with Dick of the vineyard.
'Thus you see how some few of my days pass
away. I see a great deal, and think a great deal,
but derive little pleasure from either, because I am
forced into both, and am alone in both."
The amazing perseverance which characterized
Ledyard's character is illustrated by the pertinacity
with which he still adhered to his project in reference to the American fur-trade. Being prevented
by many disappointments from reaching the Northwest coast by sea, he determined to travel thither by
land. His route would lie through the boundless
and frozen plains of Siberia, where very great perils
would surround him. He was almost without means
or any of the necessary facilities for such a journey.
Yet he did not despair. He succeeded, after considerable trouble and delay, in obtaining the permission of the Empress Catherine H. to travel
through her dominions. He proceeded to Hamburg,
thence to Copenhagen, and arrived at St. Petersburg after traversing Sweden, Lapland, and Finland JOHN LEDYARD.
on foot in the midst of winter. When he passed
through the village of Tornea, he found all the
streets deserted and the houses buried to their very
roofs in snow. The thermometer stood thirty-seven
degrees below the freezing-poinjj> He thus speaks
of this extraordinary journey:
" I cannot tell you by what means I came to
Petersburg, and hardly know by what means I shall
quit it in the further prosecution of my tour round
the world by land. If I have any merit in the
affair, it is perseverance, for most severely have I
been buffeted, and yet still am even more obstinate
than before; and fate, as obstinate, continues her
assaults. How the matter will terminate I know
not. The most probable conjecture is that I shall
succeed, and be buffeted round the world as I have
hitherto been from England through Denmark,
through Sweden, Swedish Lapland, Swedish Finland, and the most unfrequented parts of Russian
Finland, to this aurora borealis of a city. I cannot
give you a history of myself since I saw you, or
since I wrote you last: however abridged, it would
be too long. Upon the whole, mankind have used
me well; and, though I have as yet reached only
the first stage of my journey, I feel myself much
indebted for that urbanity which I always thought
more general than  many think  it  to be;   and,
1 812
were it not for the mischievous laws and bad
examples of some governments I have passed
through, I am persuaded I should be able to give
you a still better account of our fellow-creatures.
But I am hastening to countries where goodness, if
natural to the human heart, will appear independent
of example, and furnish an illustration of the character of man not unworthy of him who wrote the Declaration of Independence. I did not hear of the
death of M. de Vergennes until I arrived here. Permit me to express my regret at the loss of so great
and so good a man. Permit me, also, to congratulate
you, as the minister of my country, on account of
the additional commercial privileges granted by
France to America, and to express my ardent wishes
that the friendly spirit which dictated them may
last forever. I was extremely pleased at reading
the account, and, to heighten the satisfaction, I
found the name of La Fayette there.
" An equipment is now on foot here for the Sea
of Kamtschatka, and it is first to visit the northwest coast of America. It is to consist of four
ships. This, and the expedition that went from
here twelve months since by land for Kamtschatka,
are to co-operate in a design of some sort in the
Northern Pacific Ocean,—the Lord knows what,
nor does it matter what with me, nor indeed with JOHN LEDYARD.
you, nor any other minister, nor any potentate,
south of fifty degrees of latitude. I can only say
that you are in no danger of having the luxurious
repose of your charming climates disturbed by a
second incursion of either Goth, Vandal, Hun, or
" I dined to-day with Professor Pallas. He is an
accomplished man, and my friend, and has travelled
throughout European and Asiatic Russia. I find
the little French I have of infinite service to me. I
could not do without it. It is a most extraordinary
language. I believe wolves, rocks, woods, and snow
understand it, for I have addressed them all in it,
and they have all been very complaisant to me.
We had a Scythian at table, who belongs to the
Royal Society of Physicians here. The moment
he knew me and my designs, he became my friend;
and it will be by his generous assistance, joined
.with that of Professor Pallas, that I shall be able to
procure a royal passport, without which I cannot
stir. This must be done through an application
to the French minister, there being no American
minister here; and to his secretary I shall apply
with Dr. Pallas to-morrow, and shall take the liberty
to make use of your name and that of the Marquis
de la Fayette, as to my character. As all my letters
of recommendation were English, and as I have
27 314
hitherto been used by the English with the greatest
kindness and respect, I first applied to the British
minister, but without success. The apology was
that the present political condition between Russia
and England would make it disagreeable for the
British minister to ask any favor. The secretary
of the French embassy will despatch my letter, and
one of his accompanying it, to the Count Segur tomorrow morning. I will endeavor to write you
again before I leave Petersburg, and give you some
further accounts of myself. Meantime, I wish you
health. I have written a short letter to the marquis.
Ledyard left St. Petersburg on the 1st of June,
and arrived at Moscow after a journey of six days.
Thence he proceeded to Kasan. He crossed the
Ural Mountains without accident, and reached Tobolsk, the former capital of Siberia. Here he tarried a short time, and at length journeyed on to
Irkutsk. This city is situated nearly in the centre
of the vast territories of Russia in Asia, and is the
capital of a province. The forms of society, and the
aspects of human life, here presented a novel and
striking picture to his view; exhibiting the appearances of a community for remote from the great
highways of civilization, and shut out from all
familiar and frequent intercourse with the world. CHAPTER IV.
When Ledyard arrived at Yakutsk, he desired to
proceed immediately to Ochotsk, which is six hundred miles farther eastward. This town is situated
on the sea of that name, and marks a portion of the
extreme eastern limits of the continent of Asia. It
was Ledyard's intention to embark at Ochotsk in a
vessel bound for the North American continent,
which would thus have brought him directly to the
locality around which centred all his golden dreams
in reference to the lucrative fur-trade. But he was
destined to proceed no farther than Yakutsk. He
was at first persuaded to postpone his journey, in
consequence of the severity and the perils of the
weather, till the ensuing spring, through the most
earnest solicitations of the commandant of Yakutsk.
This personage seemed most mysteriously to take a
profound interest in his welfare. He represented
to Ledyard that to proceed at that time would entail
certain death upon him; although Ledyard knew
that the journey had been frequently made by others
315 316
in the most inclement season of the year.    Says
"The commandant assured me that he had orders
from the governor-general to render me all possible
kindness and service; 'but, sir,' continued he, 'the
first service I am bound to render you is, to beseech
you not to attempt to reach Ochotsk this winter.' He
spoke to me in French. I almost rudely insisted
on being permitted to depart immediately, and expressed surprise that a Yakuti Indian and a Tartar
horse should be thought incapable of following a
man born and educated in the latitude of forty.
He declared, upon his honor, that the journey was
impracticable. The contest lasted two or three
days, in which interval, being still fixed in my
opinion, I was preparing for the journey. The
commandant at length waited on me, and brought
with him a trader, a very good, respectable-looking
man of about fifty, as a witness to the truth and
propriety of his advice to me. This trader, for ten
or twelve years, had passed and repassed often from
Yakutsk to Ochotsk. I was obliged, however severely
I might lament the misfortune, to yield to two such
advocates for my happiness. The trader held out
to me all the horrors of the winter, and the severity
of the journey at the best season; and the commandant, the goodness of his house and the society JOHN LEDYARD.
here, all of which would be at my service; The
difficulty of the journey I was aware of; but when I
assented to its impracticability it was a compliment,
for I do not believe it is so, nor hardly any thing
During the delay which thus ensued in the progress of this intrepid traveller, a singular and mysterious reverse of fortune overtook him. Without
any previous notice or warning whatever, he was
suddenly arrested by the express order of the Em*
press of Russia, and was hurried back under the
guard of two soldiers, upon the interminable road
toward St. Petersburg. He was thus rapidly conveyed from post to post, through the vast realms
which he had but a short time before traversed
under the protection of the same autocrat who now
commanded his return. His guards conducted him
to the confines of Poland, set him free, and then
informed him that he might go where he pleased,
except that, if he ever again returned into the
dominions of the empress, he would certainly be
hanged. He thus speaks of this mysterious vicissitude in his fate:
"I had penetrated through Europe and Asia,
almost to the Pacific Ocean, but, in the midst of my
career, was arrested a prisoner to the Empress of
Russia, by an express sent after me for that purpose,
27* S18
I passed under a guard part of last winter and
spring; was banished the empire, and conveyed to
the frontiers of Poland, six thousand versts from the
place where I was arrested, and this journey was
performed in six weeks. Cruelties and hardships
are tales I leave untold. I was disappointed in the
pursuit of an object on which my future fortune
entirely depended. I know not how I passed through
the kingdoms of Poland and Prussia, or from thence
to London, where I arrived in the beginning of
May, disappointed, ragged, penniless; and yet so
accustomed am I to such things, that I declare my
heart was whole. My health for the first time had
suffered from my confinement, and the amazing
rapidity with which I had been carried through the
illimitable wilds of Tartary and Russia. But my
liberty regained, and a few days' rest among the
beautiful daughters of Israel in Poland, re-established it, and I am now in as full bloom and vigor
as thirty-seven years will afford any man. Jarvis
says I look much older than when he saw me three
summers ago at Paris, which I can readily believe.
An American face does not wear well, like an American heart."
It is difficult to assign a plausible reason for this
extraordinary change in the policy and purpose of
Catharine IL    The most probable explanation is JOHN LEDYARD.
the fact that, upon further reflection, she felt an
unwillingness to permit the new possessions of Russia on the western coast of America to be subjected
to the scrutiny of an inquisitive American, who
would afterward report his observations in the
United States; which country she detested as the
hotbed of jacobinism and red-republicanism. Thus
again were all Ledyard's hopes blasted, and the
infinite toils which he had endured in journeying
four thousand miles by land eastward, rendered
futile and useless. He made his way sadly from
Poland to England, still incommoded by poverty,
still harassed by disappointment, yet still hopeful
and intrepid as to the future.
In London, Ledyard's best friend was Sir Joseph
Banks. This munificent person supplied his most
pressing necessities, and cheered him with encouraging representations of the possibility of other
plans and enterprises which would prove more
successful and more remunerative. At that time
the "African Association," located in the British
metropolis, entertained the project of sending out
some one to explore the interior countries of Africa,
and to ascertain the direction and the sources of the
river Niger. Sir Joseph Banks proposed to Ledyard that he himself should embark in this enterprise.    Nothing could have been more acceptable 320
to this homeless yet daring adventurer than this
proposition. He immediately signified his readiness to undertake the mission. Thus, at length,
after infinite toils and sufferings in remote and inhospitable lands, which he had traversed in poverty
and alone, without the necessary funds, equipments,
or protection, he was selected by an opulent and
influential organization to carry out their favorite
views, and was furnished with every thing which
would be requisite for his wants, for his security,
and for his success. His strong ambition, too, which
had so long been harassed by repeated disappointments and failures, was now flattered with the prospect of future eminence and distinction. CHAPTER V.
On the 30th of June, 1788, Ledyard bade adieu
to the British metropolis, and commenced his
journey toward the distant land of the Nile. H$
visited his former friend Mr. Jefferson, when passing through Paris; who received him with great
cordiality, and encouraged him with cheering prospects and anticipations of future prosperity. From
Paris Ledyard proceeded to Marseilles, at which
port he embarked for Alexandria. He thus de*
scribes, in a letter to Mr. Jefferson, his first experiences of Eastern travel:
"As I shall go to Cairo in a few days, from
whence it may be difficult for me to write to you, I
do it here, though unprepared. I am in good health
and spirits, and the prospects before me are flattering. This intelligence, with my wishes for your
happiness and an eternal remembrance of your
goodness to me, must form the only part of my letter
of any consequence,—except that I desire to be
remembered to the Marquis de la Fayette, his lady,
V 821 892
Mr. Short, and other friends. Deducting the week
I stayed at Paris, and two days at Marseilles, I was
only thirty-four days from London to this place.
" I am sorry to inform you that I regret having
visited the gentleman you mentioned, and of having
made use of your name. I shall ever think, though
he was extremely polite, that he rather strove to
prevent my embarking at Marseilles than to facilitate it; for, by bandying me about among the members of the Chamber of Commerce, he had nearly,
and very nearly, lost me my passage; and in the
last ship from Marseilles for the season. He knew
better: he knew that the Chamber of Commerce
had no business with me; and, besides, 1 oniy asked
him if he could without trouble address me to the
captain of a ship bound to Alexandria: nothing
"Alexandria at large presents a scene more
wretched than I have witnessed. Poverty, rapine,
murder, tumult, blind bigotry, cruel persecution,
pestilence I A small town built on the ruins of antiquity, as remarkable for its miserable architecture
as I suppose the place once was for its good and
great works of that kind. Pompey's Pillar and
Cleopatra's Obelisk are now almost the only remains
of remote antiquity. They are both, and particularly the former, noble object* to contemplate, and m
are certainly more captivating from the contrast of
the deserts and forlorn prospects around them. No
man of whatever turn of mind can see the whole,
without retiring from the scene with a Sic transit
gloria mundi."
Having' passed ten days only at Alexandria, he
pursued his journey up the Nile to Cairo, where he
arrived on the 19th of August. Here again he
wrote to Mr. Jefferson:
"I sent you a short letter from Alexandria. I
begin this without knowing where I shall close it,
or when I shall send it, or, indeed, whether I shall
ever send it. But I will have it ready in case an
opportunity shall offer. Having been in Cairo only
four days, I have not seen much of particular interest for you; and, indeed, you will not expect much
of this kind from me. My business is in another
quarter, and the information I seek totally new.
Any thing from this place would not be so.
" At all events, I shall never want a subject when
it is to you I write. I shall never think my letter
an indifferent one, when it contains the declaration
of my gratitude and my affection for you; and this,
notwithstanding you thought hard of me for being
employed by an English association, which hurt me
much while I was at Paris. You know your own
heart; and, if my suspicions are groundless, forgive ii
them, since they proceed from the jealousy I have
not to lose the regard you have in times past been
pleased to honor me with. You are not obliged to
esteem me; but I am obliged to esteem you, or to
take leave of my senses and confront the opinions
of the greatest and best characters I know. If I
cannot, therefore, address myself to you as a man
you regard, I must do it as one that regards you for
your own. sake, and for the sake of my country,
which has set me the example.
" I made my tour from Alexandria by water, and
entered the Nile by the western branch of the
mouth of the river. I was five days coming from
Cairo; but this passage is generally made in four,
and sometimes in three days. You have heard and
read much of the Nile, and so had I; but when I
saw it I could not conceive it to be the same. What
eyes do travellers see with? Are they fools or
rogues ? For heaven's sake, hear the plain truth
about it. First, in regard to its size. Obvious
comparisons in such cases are good. Do you know
the river Connecticut? Of all the rivers I have
seen, it most resembles that in size. It is a little
wider, and may on that account better compare
with the Thames. This is the mighty, the sovereign
of rivers, the vast Nile, that has been metamorphosed into one of the wonders of the world.   Let JOHN LEDYARD.
me be careful how I read, and, above all, how I read
ancient history. You have heard, and read, too,
much of its inundations. If the thousands of large
and small canals from it, and the thousands of men
and machines employed to transfer by artificial
means the-water of the Nile to the meadows on its
banks,—if this be the inundation that is meant, it
is true: any other is false. It is not an inundating
river. I came up the river from the 15th to the
20th of August, and about the 30th the water will
be at the height of the freshet. When 1 left the
river, its banks were four, i\ve, and six feet above
the water; and here in town I am told they expect
the Nile to be only one or two feet higher at the
most. This is a proof, if any were wanted, that the
river does not overflow its banks.
" I saw the Pyramids as I passed up the river, but
they were four or five leagues off. It is warm weather here at present; and, were it not for the north
winds, that cool themselves in their passage over the
Mediterranean and blow upon us, we should be in
a sad situation. As it is,-1 think I have felt it hotter
at Philadelphia in the same month. The city of
Cairo is about half as large in size as Paris, and is
said to contain seven hundred thousand inhabitants.
You will therefore anticipate the fact of its narrow
streets and high houses.   In this number are con-
28 326
tained one hundred thousand Copts, or descendants
of the ancient Egyptians. There are likewise Christians, and those of different sects, from Jerusalem,
Damascus, Aleppo, and other parts of Syria.
" With regard to my journey, I can only tell you
with any certainty that I shall be able to pass as far
as the western boundaries of what is called Turkish
Nubia, to the town of Sennaar. I expect to get
there with some surety. Beyond that all is dark
before me. My wishes and designs are to pass in
that parallel across the continent. I will write from
Sennaar if I can.
"You know the disturbances in this unhappy
country, and the nature of them. The beys, revolted from the bashaw, have possession of Upper
Egypt, and are now encamped with an army—pitiful
enough, indeed—about three miles south of Cairo.
They say to the bashaw, 'Come out of your city
and fight us;' and the bashaw says, ' Come out of
your intrenchments and fight me.' You know this
revolt is a stroke in Russian politics. Nothing
merits more the whole force of burlesque than both
the poetic and prosaic legends of this country.
Sweet are the songs of Egypt on paper. Who is
not ravished with gums, balms, dates, figs, pomegranates, cassia, and sycamores, without recollecting that amidst these are dust, hot and fainting JOHN LEDYARD.
winds, bugs, mosquitos, spiders, flies, leprosy,
fevers, and almost universal blindness? I am in
perfect health. Adieu for the present, and believe
me to be, with all possible esteem and regard, your
sincere friend."
From Alexandria Ledyard proceeded to Cairo.
Here he made those preparations for his journey
into the interior which were .still requisite. His
purpose was to join some caravan which travelled
southward and continue with it to the end of its
route; after which he determined to shape his
course according to circumstances. He employed
three months at Cairo in various preliminary labors.
His journal describes with great interest his progress from Alexandria to the gorgeous capital of
Egypt, as well as his plans and arrangements for the
future completion of his enterprise.
But the malignant and hostile fate which had
attended this remarkable man throughout his whole
hfe, did not desert him even in the hour of his
brightest hope. The shaft of death prostrated him
just on the eve of his triumph. During his residence at Cairo he was much exposed to the heat of
the sun, at a very unfavorable period of the year.
This exposure brought on an attack of bilious
colic. Ledyard rashly attempted to cure himself
by administering the ordinary remedy of vitriolio 328
acid. The quantity taken proved to be too great*
and he endeavored to relieve himself by a powerful
dose of tartar emetic. This unfortunate combination of pernicious influences, after a few hours of
acute suffering, produced Ids death; though he
was finally attended by the best medical aid in
Cairo. He expired on the 26th of November, 1788,
in the thirty-eighth year of his age.
Thus prematurely terminated the Me and the
vicissitudes of one of the most extraordinary travellers of modern times. It is highly probable that,
had Ledyard lived to execute his bold and comprehensive plans in reference to the exploration of
Central Africa, he would have attained results and
achieved a fame which would far exceed those of
any other adventurer in that clime; for he was
undoubtedly the most determined, the most intrepid,
and the most sagacious of all the men who have
ever attempted to fathom the great geographical
and historical mysteries which yet overhang, with
such profound and impressive effect, those vast and
diversified realms; where the gorgeous ruins of
Meroe and Luxor, the still existing commerce of
Sennaar, Nubia, and Abyssinia in spices, gold, and
aromatic gums, the glorious temples of Thebes,
the colossal tombs of Sesostris and Rameses, the JOHN LEDYARD.
musical statue of Memnon, and the sculptured
obelisks of Karnak, all proclaim the still unequalled
splendors of that mysterious land, which to this
day invite the scrutiny and reward the toil of the
resolute explorer.
The United States Exploring Expedition, which
sailed under the orders of Captain Charles Wilkes
during the years 1838, '39, '40, '41, '42, was the first
in the order of time which had ever been organized
under the auspices of the United States Government,
or fitted out by national munificence. On the 18th
of May, 1836, Congress passed an act authorizing
an expedition to be prepared and sent forth for
the purpose of exploring and surveying the great
Southern ocean, with special reference to such investigations as would promote the interest of American citizens who were engaged in the commerce
connected with whale-fisheries. The commander
of the expedition was instructed to ascertain and fix
the position of those islands and shoals which lie CHARLES WILKES.
in or near the usual course of American vessels,
which had escaped the scrutiny of former navigators. Six ships of various sizes were placed under
his orders,—the sloops-of-war Yincennes and Peacock, the ship Relief, the brig Porpoise, and the
tenders Sea-Gull and Flying-Fish. The route designated for Captain Wilkes was as follows: starting
from Norfolk, he was directed first to sail to Rio de
Janeiro, thence to Rio Negro, to Terra del Fuego,
to the Navigators' Group and Feejee Islands. Having
penetrated the Antarctic region, he was ordered to
proceed to the Sandwich Islands, and thence to the
northwest coast of America and California. After
making various investigations there, he was to sail
westward to Japan, thence to the Straits of Sunda
and Singapore, and return to the United States by
the Cape of Good Hope. This extensive outline of
research and exploration was wisely selected with
reference to the most pressing wants of American
commerce; and th