Wrangel Ferdinand Petrovich 

Outstanding scientist, navigator, polar explorer, admiral, Honorary Member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1855). 
Born in Pskov, in a family of immigrants from Denmark. His grandfather was a chamberlain at the court of Peter III, when Catherine II fell into disgrace and fled abroad. Wrangel's parents, not having the means to raise their son, gave him to the care of one of the relatives.Acquaintance of the teachers of Wrangel with Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern, his stories about his world tour left an indelible mark on the soul of a child, aroused interest in the sea, travel, geographical discoveries and in many respects determined his future fate. 
In 1810, the boy was given to the Naval Cadet Corps. By that time, he did not know a word in Russian, and after graduation he mastered Russian better than German. Impressions about the years of study were very ambiguous: "... the education is Spartan, the teaching is the worst ...." The shortcomings of teaching Wrangel filled with self-education and self-education. His closest friend was P.F. Anjou, the friendship with which went through their lives. They were the best graduates of the graduation class: of 99 cadets, Wrangel was the first, and Anjou was the second. 
At the end of the naval corps in 1815, the midshipman Wrangel served for some time in Revel, sailing in the Gulf of Finland on the frigate Avtoil, but the dream of traveling and geographical discoveries did not leave him. Learning about the impending round-the-world voyage V.M. Golovnin on the sloop "Kamchatka", Wrangel tried to get there, but Golovnin refused. Then Wrangel decided to take a desperate step: he wrote to the commander of the port of Revel a report about his illness and left the ship. A few days later, arriving on a coaster in St. Petersburg, he came to Golovnin. The reaction of that was destructive: “You must be arrested, gracious sir, for fleeing the ship”. The moment was decisive, the situation was saved by Wrangel's answer: “In this case, I would like to go under arrest upon returning from the voyage…. Take me as a simple sailor".  Severe Golovnin was able to assess the condition of the young sailor, understand his dedication, love of the sea, perseverance in achieving his goal. The next day, Wrangel was included in the staff of the expedition. 
During the voyage, Wrangel met and became close to people like F.P. Litke, F.F. Matyushkin, P.T. Kozmin. 
Participation in this voyage around the world, close contacts with Golovnin were decisive in the fate of Wrangel, his formation as a seaman and a scientist. On board the Kamchatka, in addition to the basic service, he put a lot of time and effort into filling education gaps: he studied geography, the history of polar voyages and discoveries, navigation, astronomy, which was greatly contributed by the presence of an excellent library on board. 
The next period of Wrangel activity covers the period 1820 - 1824. and is associated with work at the head of a land detachment charged with conducting an inventory of the northeastern coasts of Russia, answering questions about the existence of the “North Motherland” - land north of the Asian continent, as well as the presence or absence of an isthmus between Asia and America. The appointment of such a responsible business was a manifestation of Wrangel’s highest appreciation as a seaman, scientist and leader. His assistant was Matyushkin. The expedition also included Kozmin. 
At the end of March, 1820, they set off from St. Petersburg, ten days later they were in Moscow, from there, constantly changing horses, and in a month and a half they traveled 5,317 miles to Irkutsk. The Siberian Governor M.M. Speransky, who gave Wrangel unlimited powers in organizing the expedition. By this time, the governor had sent all the necessary instructions to the local authorities. The meeting of Wrangel and Matyushkin with M.M. Hedenstrom. 
At the end of June, they left Irkutsk, two days later they reached Kachug on Lena, from where they set off downstream on a large flat-bottomed vessel. At the very beginning of November, the expedition gathered in Nizhnekolymsk. 
Winter was spent in active preparation of the necessary supplies and equipment. 
On February 19, 1821, Wrangell, Kozmin and three Cossacks traveled east along the coast to Cape Shelagsky, where, according to some foreign geographers, in particular James Burney, there was an isthmus between Asia and America. First, we went to places already described earlier by G.A. Sarychev and I.I. Billings. Wrangel noted with satisfaction that his observations were “perfectly consistent” with the data of his predecessors. Behind the cape of Baranov Kamen were places known only from the description of N.P. Shalaurov. Now their route had to repeat every bend of a very winding coast. There were severe frosts, accompanied by frequent blizzards. Conducting observations turned into a painful ordeal. People suffered, but devices failed, chronometers stopped. On March 5, they finally reached the Shelagsky Cape and determined its coordinates. Wrangel went east to the next cape, which he called Cape Kozmin, and made sure that the coastline turned southeast. Thus, he established that there is no isthmus with America in this place. On the way back, the travelers survived the famine, as the food stores left by them were destroyed by Arctic foxes and wolverines. 
At the end of March, a detachment led by Wrangel and Matyushkin traveled north to decide on the existence of an unknown land. Wrangel decided to start from the west, from the site north of the mouth of the Kolyma, where the existence of the "Andreev Land" was supposed. Passing the Bear Islands, we traveled more than 200 km to the north, overcoming ridges of hummocks, thin ice, streams, and stopped only after further advancement became impossible due to the unreliable ice and the proximity of the raging open sea. They looked at the north for a long time, even at the telescope they took with them, but they did not see the earth. Turning back, they reached the Bear Islands, and on April 20–23 they were working on their inventory. April 28 returned to Nizhnekolymsk. Wrangell was failing, and the more emotional Matyushkin was simply overwhelmed by it. The naval ministry showed discontent with the fact that Wrangel began his search from the west, and not from the Shelagsky Cape, as the instructions prescribed. 
In the summer of 1821, Wrangel described the lower course of the Kolyma. Winter hikes did not pass for him without a trace. He developed rheumatism, and on the advice of the expedition doctor A. Kiber, he stayed in Srednekolymsk until the end of August, which seemed to him a paradise. 
On September 2, he was already in Nizhnekolymsk, where a few weeks later he was joined by Matyushkin and Kiber, completing the inventory of the tundra east of the mouth of the Kolyma and exploring the Maly Anyuya region, and some time later Kozmin, describing the coast between Kolyma and Indigirka. With Kozmin, Wrangel's bosom friend of Anjou came to visit, completing the inventory from Yana to Indigirka. 
Preparing for the new season was extremely difficult. The early onset of winter, poor hunting and fishing led to hunger among the local population. Count on his help in the procurement of food was not necessary. In addition, for some reason, the dogs began to die. Initially, Wrangel was going to work in two groups: to search for the "Northern Land" and describe the coast from the Shelagsky Cape to the Bering Strait. However, the lack of dogs forced him to abandon this plan. He decided to search for land, and the inventory was postponed until next year. 
On March 17, a very heavy ice went from Baranov Kamen to the north. People and dogs were exhausted. Wrangel decided to free himself from part of the food supply by organizing a warehouse on the fast ice and sending part of the nart to the mainland. Then he went north with Kozmin, reaching 71° 13′ N, and Matyushkina sent to the northeast. His group reached 71° 10′N on the 168°E meridian. Several times saw mirages that were taken for the land. In the agreed place, the detachments met. On April 10, Wrangel sent Matyushkin with two guides to the north: after 10 versts the road was blocked by an unfrozen sea. From the point of 72° 2′, 262 km from the coast, along the longitude of Baranov Kamen, they turned east and attempted to search for land north of the Shelagsky Cape. We made sure that there is no land in 130 km from this cape either. Food ended, and Wrangell decided to return to Nizhnekolymsk. 
The ministry expressed increasing discontent with the fact that Wrangel was searching for land north-west and not north of Shelagsky Cape. This greatly offended and oppressed him. He believed that it was necessary to search everywhere north of the coast. Now, after two trips, it has become clear: there is no land in the “distance” from the Siberian coast between the meridians of the Bear Islands and the Shelagsky Cape. Search the land must be east. 
After receiving the Wrangel report in St. Petersburg, the attitude towards the results of his expedition changed dramatically for the better. It was said that his staff "underwent great labors and dangers", and brought immense benefit to geography. Decided to extend the expedition for another year. 
In the last, fourth expedition to the north, Wrangel and Kozmin set out. On February 26, they traveled east along the coast with a group of local residents, and on March 8 they were at Cape Shelagsky. Here they were visited by one of the Chukchi elders, who claimed that there was mountainous land not far from their land in the north. 
Reaching Cape Kozmin, turned north. The hike was extremely difficult and often deadly. Having got on the ice broken by the stormy sea, travelers several times found themselves on the verge of death, saving themselves only by a miracle. When Wrangel, having exhausted all possibilities to move north, decided to turn south, the detachment was at 70° 51′N and 175° 27′E, i.e. 80 miles from the coast and only 30 miles from the desired land, which now bears his name. 
Food stores that travelers left on the ice were gone, and by the time they returned, they had a five-day supply of food 360 miles to the nearest ground warehouse. All hope was to meet with a detachment of Matyushkin, who made a survey of the coast from Shelagsky Cape to Cape Severny. Fortunately, a saving encounter occurred.Matyushkin reported on the information he received from the Chukchi about the land visible north of Cape Yakan. Having reached the Yakan, the travelers looked for a long time to the north, but did not see the land. Matyushkin once again tried to get to her on the ice, but did not achieve success. Wrangell also completed the shooting of the coast to Cape North, the point where the English navigator James Cook reached from the Pacific Ocean. Thus, the question of connecting Asia with America was finally removed. The problem of mapping the northern coast of Siberia from Kolyma to Cape Severny was also solved. 
The expedition, brilliantly conducted by Wrangel, gave excellent scientific results. 
Wrangell initiated the collection of materials on the terrestrial magnetism of Eastern Siberia. The material he collected was the first magnetic reconnaissance survey of Eastern Siberia from Yakutsk to the shores of the Arctic Ocean. 
Wrangel first described the ice of the East Siberian and Chukchi seas, established the boundaries of the distribution of fast ice in this region, first discovered the ice islands and gave them a very accurate description. According to the famous oceanographer N.N. Zubov, Wrangel "gave, in essence, the first descriptions of polar ice". 
Wrangel's detachment, as well as the detachment of his friend P.F. Anjou opened a permanent sea polynya, which later received the name of the Great Northern Polynya, which begins north-west of Kotelny Island and extends southeast, approaching the mainland. 
An outstanding contribution to the study of the climate of the North-East of Russia was the organization by Wrangel and Matyushkin of systematic meteorological observations in Nizhnekolymsk, which were subsequently used by many outstanding scientists to characterize the meteorological conditions on the northern coast of Siberia. The observations of the Wrangel expedition over the aurora were extremely important. 
An inventory of the coast of Siberia from Indigirka to Kolyuchinskaya Bay, produced by Wrangel’s expedition, together with the materials of I. Billings’s expedition, which explored the coast from Kolyuchinskaya Bay to the Bering Strait, made it possible to get a modern outline of the coastline in this region. 
The experience of organizing and conducting trekking on ice on dog sleds, accumulated by Wrangel, was subsequently used by such outstanding polar travelers as F. Nansen and R. Peary. The invention introduced by Wrangel to protect dogs from cold and damage to their paws deserves special attention. They wore a special kind of footwear made of durable leather, while others “more sensitive, less sensitive to other parts of the body covered with hair and freezing”, were wrapped with skins of skins. 
And finally, Wrangel’s research proved the absence of a “large continent” north of the Siberian shores at least 300–500 miles away. At the same time, Wrangel said that according to information from local residents, there is a large mountainous island north of Cape Yakan, and showed its approximate location on the map under 71º N with the words "Mountains are seen from Cape Yakana in the summer". As it turned out, the place was fairly accurate. F.P. Litke wrote that this land "is no longer to be sought, but should be found." In the article of the naval historian A.O. Kornilovich noted: “…. he prepared his successor in this business all the ways for its discovery. He indicated a place from where to look for her, and ways to get to her more conveniently”.  
In the subsequent five years after the Arctic expedition, Wrangel commanded the transport "Krotkiy", made a voyage around the world, and the frigate "Elizabeth", published the first works on the Arctic Sea, finished work on the description of the journey to the northern shores of Siberia. He was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences. 
In the period 1829-1835 he was the chief ruler of Russian America, combining administrative and managerial work with intensive scientific activity and bringing immense benefit to Russian geography and ethnography. 
In 1838, Wrangel became the manager of the Russian-American company, and soon was elected its chief director. His activities in these posts ensured the development of Russian settlements in America and was also marked by great scientific achievements. On the initiative of Wrangel, a whole series of expeditions were organized both to study the areas of the Russian possessions in America, and the eastern and northeastern territories of Russia. 
Only in 1841, Wrangel managed to publish a description of his Arctic voyage, which was prepared in 1828. At the same time, the Academy of Sciences published an addendum to it, and the following year, Wrangel was awarded the Demidov Prize to the fifth sailor. 
An outstanding role belongs to Wrangel in the creation of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, of which he became a founding member, together with F.P. Litke and academician K.M. Baer. The range of state, political and scientific interests of Wrangel was extremely wide, at the same time, he never forgot about the Arctic. Of great importance for subsequent expeditions to study the Arctic was his project to reach the North Pole, the validity and reality of which was confirmed by the practice. It summarized and analyzed the experience of Wrangel and Anjou in organizing toboggan trips on the ice. Wrangel convincingly showed the fallacy of ideas about the possibility of reaching the pole along the Spitsbergen meridian and recommended the way from Greenland, which, after 63 years, the American R. Peary went. 
In 1864, due to health reasons, Wrangel withdrew from the civil service and moved permanently to his estate. But even during this period, practically until the end of his life, he conducted active research work, being aware of the main scientific events of his time. The merits of Wrangel are marked by the Orders of St. George of the 4th degree for 25 years of service, St. Stanislav of the 1st degree, St. Anna of the 1st degree with the Imperial Crown, St. Vladimir of the 2nd degree, White Eagle.

He died in Dorpat (now Tartu). He was buried in the family section of the cemetery, located one kilometer from Viru-Yagupi (the old name Ruil) in Estonia. According to a report in 1960, the grave was not preserved. In the cemetery chapel, we managed to find only a gravestone marble plank with the name and dates of birth and death and a cross. Subsequently, the tombstone was restored. His photograph by Alla Belenkova was taken from http://www.m-necropol.ru/.


The island between the East Siberian and Chukchi seas. Officially opened on August 17, 1849 by Captain G. Kellett, who modestly called it “Land of Kellett”. The modern name was given in 1867 by the noble captain of the Nile whaling ship T. Long: “The first information about the existence of the found land was communicated to the world-educated lieutenant of the Russian fleet Ferdinand Wrangel ... I called it Wrangel Land, wanting to bring due tribute to this man”. 
The island in the Krestova Bay on the west coast of the northern island of Novaya Zemlya. Opened and named in August 1822, by F.P. Litke. 
Cape in the Chukchi Sea on the coast of Alaska east of Cape Barrow.

Lake on Taimyr east of Lake Rusanov.

Cove in the north-east of Ellesmere Island in the Robson Strait.


Return to the main page