Greeley Adolph Washington
(27.03.1844 - 20.10.1935)
American meteorologist and polar explorer, general.
Born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA, in a poor family. After
graduating from school, Greeley worked as a teacher in a private
house, but in 1861, after the outbreak of the civil war, he, despite
the protests of his parents, enlisted as a volunteer. In
the war, Greeley was wounded three times and rose to the rank of
enrolling in the regular army, he served at border posts, in the
signal department of the US Army, took part in organizing the
Weather Bureau, built military telegraph lines in Texas, along the
Atlantic coast, and along the south-western border.
In 1881, as a major of the 5th US Cavalry Regiment, Greeley was
appointed head of the American Arctic expedition organized in
connection with the I International Polar Year. On
the instructions of the Minister of Defense, he was to build a
meteorological station in the northeast of Ellesmere Island (Grant
Land) at Fort Konger on the shore Robson
In the Russian Arctic literature, this expedition and the
personality of its leader are assessed as a whole rather negatively. It
should be recognized that the author of these lines in previous
editions took the same position. But
now, having finally got acquainted with the book of Greeley, written
on the basis of his field diaries, I am changing my point of view.
The expedition, which had a two-year supply of food, was
delivered from Newfoundland by the Protey steamer in early August. After
half a month the ship went home, leaving 25 people. Polar
explorers conducted regular meteorological and magnetic
observations, examined the shores of Grant's Earth and northern
Greenland, and visited the interior of the island of Ellesmere. In
one of the sleigh trips in 1882, the group of Lieutenant James
Lockwood reached a
record for that period, a move to the north - 83º 24'30″.
Starting out very promisingly, the expedition of the Greeks ended
In the next two years, the ship could not get through to the
the summer of 1883, not waiting for the arrival of the vessel,
detained by the ice, the Americans, on the orders of Greeley, set
off in boats with a small supply of food. By
this time, people were practically healthy. Unable
to find food depots, which for a similar occasion should have been
organized by the army quartermaster, the group was forced to stop
for the third wintering at Cape
Sabin on Pim Island
Smith Strait. Eight
painful months spent these unfortunate people in a primitive
dwelling built of stones, tarpaulins, tents, boats, ice and snow. In
extreme conditions, both the highest moral and volitional qualities
of people, and, unfortunately, base feelings manifested themselves. Yes,
there were quarrels, there were cases of unscrupulous sharing of
products, there were cases of theft of products, but once again I
want to say that only those who survived a similar test and
adequately withstood it can judge the violators. To
the end, Greeley led the group, did everything to save people,
organized both food, and hunting, and providing leisure activities,
while showing maximum restraint and diplomacy.And only when the
actions of one of the members of the expedition became threatening
for the whole team, was he forced to make a difficult decision to
shoot the intruder.
Almost until the very last days, Greeley kept a diary entry. His
personality and attitude clearly characterize such a diary entry,
made at the very end of the expedition on May 23, 1884, a month
before the rescue: “The barometer crashed when we moved to the hill,
and this is a great failure, because I hoped that the observations
would be continue until the last of us dies”.
The seven surviving polar explorers, one of whom
soon died, on June 23 was rescued by the whaling ship Tethys.
Expedition Members Greeley
(sit: the fourth from the left is A.Greely, the fifth
is D. Lockwood)
(Photo from https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockwood,_James)
Subsequently, Greeley wrote a number of books on the Arctic, but
he never went to the polar countries again.
After the expedition, receiving the rank of general, Greeley
continued his service in the army. In
1887, he was appointed head of the Signaling Department, headed the
Weather Bureau, worked in Alaska, and participated in organizing
telegraph and telephone communications in the army. Shortly
before his death in 1935, he was awarded the honorary medal of the
US Congress for his services in the study of the Arctic.
Greeley was an opponent of the expedition F.
Nansen on the
August 1891, he published an article in the American newspaper The
Forum, in which he wrote: “The Nansen Plan is based on
misconceptions about the physical conditions of the Arctic countries
and, if it is tried to be implemented, promises only useless
results, not to mention that he faces death and suffering to the
members of the expedition".
further wrote that Nansen has no experience in Arctic research, his
crossing of Greenland is just a popular venture, there is hardly any
serious polar explorer who will support his plan.
Even after the successful completion of the expedition on the
"Fram", Greeley managed to blame Nansen for “having left his
comrades on a vessel sunk in the ice without permission, hundreds of
miles from any known sushi and did it with the intention not to
return ...”. According
to him, Nansen neglected the most sacred duty of the expedition
wrote these biased and simply unscrupulous words, knowing full well
that Nansen had gone on his unparalleled heroic hike at a time when
the position of his vessel was well defined, and the crew had
accumulated experience ensuring a safe return. This
is confirmed by the brilliant completion of his expedition. In
this case, Greeley actually became like those who in a negative
light represented all his own, even the most correct, actions.
He died in Georgetown, USA. Buried
Island of Greeley and the Strait of Sternek. In
the Strait of Brosh Island. View
from Kane Island
(photo by N. M. Stolbov)
An island in
the center of the archipelago Franz Josef Land and a cape in
the north of the island of McClintock Archipelago Franz Josef Land. Opened
and named in 1904 by the expedition A. Fiala.
The fjord in
the north of the island of Ellesmere. Opened
by the sleigh squad of D. Lockwood in 1882.