The Jeannette Arctic Expedition, commanded by Lieutenant George W. DeLong of the United States Navy, departed San Francisco on 8 July 1879. Originally projected by James Gordon Bennett, the proprietor of the New York Herald, the expedition was an attempt to reach the North Pole by way of the Bering Strait. Prior to the voyage, however, the Secretary of Navy added the task of searching for the long-overdue Vega and the Swedish polar expedition of Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld.
Shortly after crossing the Chukchi Sea, the Jeannette was caught suddenly in an ice pack near Wrangel Island. For the next 21 months, the ship and crew drifted northwest and closer to their initial goal of reaching the North Pole. During this time, DeLong tracked and recorded extensive scientific data. In May 1881 the crew discovered two islands, naming them Jeannette and Henrietta respectively, and in June the crew discovered Bennett Island, claiming it for the United States.
On 12 June, the pressure of the ice pack finally began to crush the ship, forcing the DeLong and his crew to unload equipment and provisions onto the ice before the ship sank the following morning. The expedition now faced the long and arduous march to the Siberian coast. Pulling their provisions in the lifeboats, the crew set-out, eventually setting sail in their three boats in hopes of reaching the mainland. One of the boats and its crew were lost in a sudden violent storm, but the two remaining boats, commanded by DeLong and Chief Engineer George W. Melville, survived only to find themselves faced with a long trek inland over frozen delta. Melville and DeLong separated, seeking to find help faster.DeLong sent the two strongest men ahead to find help. In their absence DeLong and the men under his command all perished on the Siberian tundra. The group commanded by Melville, however, were able to locate a native village and were rescued. After the rescue, Melville arrived in Belun, a Russian outpost, to find the two men DeLong had sent ahead, alive. Melville launched a search team for DeLong, in the process recovering logs and other important documents, but failing to find DeLong's party. In one final effort, Melville turned northward, finding the bodies of DeLong and two companions on 23 March 1882. Melville erected a cairn over the grave, a granite and marble reproduction of which is now at the United States Naval Academy.
This 129+ year old Item is rated Near Mint / Very Fine. No creases. No natural defects. No surface rub. No tears. No water damage.