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rowly escaping death from the cholera. The period of my enlistment then expired; my colonel made out my discharge, and, as he handed it to me, he said:
"Sergeant Reeves, here is your discharge. You are honorably discharged from the service of the United States. You have been a good soldier; you have conducted yourself honorably, and done your duty to your country. May you prosper wherever you go, and the lesson that you have experienced, the last five years, be such that you will never regret it."
The lieutenant made out my papers, which amounted to over two hundred dollars. I then shook hands with the officers; going to the quarters, I did the same with the men, and then bade farewell to the army forever. Thus ended my experience in the service of my country. I had gone through the perils of many battles without a wound, only a few years later to have my right arm blown off by the premature discharge of a cannon on a Fourth of July celebration; so that this narrative is of necessity a left-handed production.
As the reader has finished this article, it is to be inferred that a few lines additional, in explanation, will be agreeable. Some few months since, we accidentally fell in with a young man who had been in our army five years, embracing in that period that of our war with Mexico, and whose descriptive faculty appeared such that we at once engaged him to write a narrative of his adventures. The result was a very copious record, which we have here presented in a much abridged form--the original comprising nearly five hundred manuscript pages. We think it will be judged a vivid sketch. It is drawn from nature, and when that is faithfully copied, it will be found to interest, especially in a department of human experience so varied and exciting as that of the life of a soldier in time of war.
AMERICAN ARCTIC EXPEDITION,
IN SEARCH OF SIR JOHN FRANKLIN,
UNDER THE COMMAND OI
DR. ELISHA KENT KANE, U. S. N.
No American ever so suddenly or more deservedly achieved a wide reputation, than did the late Dr. Kane. His character combined a rare union of intellectual and moral qualities, which being signally shown in a great mission of benevolence and peril, drew the attention of all men, so that he at once attained universal regard. He was a scholar and at the same time an adventurer; to the loftiest intrepidity he united the most shrinking modesty. Possessing a delicate frame, rapidly crumbling under disease, an indomitable will enabled him to conquer hardships and sufferings under which the strongest sank. When his assigned task was performed and his great mission ended, then he, too, perished, young in years, but destined to be old in fame, and leaving this lesson to his countrymen-By greatness of deeds, and not by time, is the work of life to be measured.
To the very many who possess his “modest and thrilling narrative,'' what we give here will be superfluous. An outline history, from published sources, is all that can come within our compass to present of that American Expedition to the cold and icy north, in which was blended, on the part of its commander, so much of heroism, self-reliance, genius, and enterprise.
Sir John Franklin, whose fate has been the object of such solicitude, was one of the most intrepid of Arctic explorers. He sailed from the shores of England, for the last time, in May, 1845. Two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, manned by one hundred and thirty-eight select, resolute, and experienced seamen, composed the vessels and forces under his command. The ships were the best vessels, and the best provided, that had ever breasted the ice and storms of the far north. The objects of the expedition were the survey of the northwest coast of America, and the accomplishment of a northwest passage, along the same coast, from the waters of the Atlantic into those of the Pacific Ocean. They had abundant provisions for three years. On the 26th of July, a little more than two months after their departure, they were seen by a whaler moored to an iceberg, waiting for an opening through the vast body of ice which extends along the middle of Baffin's Bay, to prosecute their voyage. Since then no human eye has been known to rest upon either of the ships of this unfortunate expedition. Possibly some unhappy survivors may yet be lingering out a miserable existence on the shores of that great sea which, for ages unseen and unknown by man, has been tossing in fury under the storms of the farthest north. It is more probable that every soul, long since, has perished, and that the fate of Sir John Franklin and his hapless crews will ever remain, in the an. nals of human adventure, one of the most melancholy of all mysteries.
Toward the close of the year 1847, the people of England began to be alarmed in regard to the fate of Franklin. Three expeditions were promptly dispatched in search of him. Returning unsuccessful, others and still others were sent out on this great errand of humanity, covering a series of many years and an expenditure of more than four millions of dollars. All was of no avail. The first winter quarters of Franklin were, however, discovered on Beechy Island by a few relics, among which were the grave; of three of his men. The opinion was also then formed that Sir John had passed with his vessels through Wellington Channel into the great Polar Sea beyond, away north of the point of intense cold, where the milder temperature and the existence of many forms of animal life to serve for food gave the hope that he might yet have been living. Later, in March, 1854, Dr. Rae, at the head of an overland expedition of the Hudson Bay Company, met some Esquimaux at Pelly Bay, from whom he obtained several articles which were identified as belonging to various members of Sir John Franklin's party.
The possession of these articles by the Esquimaux was accounted for by a story which is related in the following extract from Dr. Rae's journal, published soon after his arrival in England : "On the morning of the 20th we were met by a very intelligent Esquimaux, driving a dog-sledge laden with musk-ox beef. This man at once consented to accompany us two days' journey, and in a few minutes had deposited his load on the snow, and was ready to join us. Having explained to him my object, he said that the road by which he had come was the best for us; and, having lightened the men's sledges, we traveled with more facility. We were now joined by another of the natives, who had been absent seal-hunting yesterday, but, being anxious to see us, had visited our snow-house early this morning, and then followed up our track. This man was very communicative, and, on putting to him the usual questions as to his having seen white man' before, or any ships or boats, he replied in the negative; but said that a party of Kabloomans' had died of starvation a long distance to the west of where we then were, and beyond a large river. He stated that he did not know the exact place, that he never had been there, and that he could not accompany us so far. The substance of the information then and subsequently obtained from various sources was to the following effect :
In the spring, four winters past (1850), while some Esquimaux families were killing seals near the north shore of a large island, named in Arrowsinith's charts King William's Land about forty white men were seen traveling in company southward over the ice, and dragging a boat and sledges with them. They were passing along the west shore of the above-named island. None of the party could speak the Esquimaux language so well as to be understood, but by signs the natives were led to believe that the ship or ships had been crushed by ice, and that they were now going to where they expected to find deer to shoot. From the appearance of the men--all of whom, with the oxception of an officer, were hauling on the drag-ropes of the sledge, and looked thin--they were then supposed to be getting short of provisions; and they purchased a small seal, or piece of seal, from the natives. The officer was described as being a tall, stout, middle-aged man. When their day's journey terminated, they pitched tents to rest in.
At a later date the same season, but previous to the disruption of the ice, the corpses of some thirty persons and some graves were discovered on the continent, and five dead bodies on an island near it, about a long day's journey to the northwest of the mouth of a large strearn, which can be no other than Back's Great Fish River (named by the Esquimaux Oot-koo-hi-ca-lik), as its description and that of the low shore in the neighborhood of Point Ogle and Montreal Island agree exactly with that of Sir George Back. Some of the bodies were in a tent, or tents; others were under the boat, which had been turned over to form a shelter; and some lay scattered about in different directions. Of those seen on the island, it was supposed that one was that of an officer (chief), as he had a telescope strapped over his shoulders, and a double-barreled gun lay underneath him.
From the mutilated state of many of the bodies, and the contents of the kettles, it is evident that our wretched countrymen had been driven to the dread alternative of cannibalism as a means of sustaining life. A few of the unfortunate men must have survived until the arrival of the wild-fowl (say until the end of May), as shots were heard, and fresh bones and feathers of geese were noticed near the scene of the sad event.
There appears to have been an abundant store of ammunition, as the gunpowder was emptied by the natives in a heap on the ground out of the keys or cases containing it, and a quantity of shot and ball was found below. high-water mark, having probably been left on the ice close to the beach before the spring commenced. There must have been a number of telescopes, guns (several of them double-barreled), watches, compasses, etc., all of which seem to have been broken up, as I saw pieces of these different articles with the natives, and I purchased as many as possible, together with some silver spoons and forks, an Order of Merit in the form of a star, and a small silver plate engraved 'Sir John Franklin, K. C. B.'
Dr. Rae concludes by expressing the opinion that no violence had been offered to the sufferers by the natives, but that they were starved to death. The following is a list of the articles obtained from the Esquimaux : One silver table-fork crest, an animal's head with wings extended above; three silver table-forks---crest, a bird with wings extended; one silver tablespoon-crest, with initials 'F. R. M. C. (Captain Crozier, Terror); one silver table-spoon and one fork---crest, bird with laurel-branch in mouth, motto, "Spero meliora ;' one silver table-spoon, one tea-spoon, and one dessertfork-crest, a fish's head looking upward, with laurel-branches on each side; one silver table-fork-initials, 'H. D. S. G.' (Harry D. S. Goodsir, assistantsurgeon, Erebus); one silver table-fork-initials, 'A. M’D. (Alexander M'Donald, assistant surgeon, Terror); one silver table-fork-initials, .G. A. M. (Gillies A. Macbean, second master, Terror); one silver table-fork
initials, 'J. T.;' one silver dessert-spoon--initials, 'J. S. P.' (John S. Ped
die, surgeon, Erebus); a round silver plate, engraved, 'Sir John Franklin, K. C. B.;' a star or order, with motto, 'Nec aspera terrent, G. R. III, MDCCCXV.:
On obtaining the above information, Dr. Rae instantly hastened to Eng. land, for the purpose of preventing any further expeditions being dispatched in search of the lost navigators. His report, as might have been expected, was subjected on all hands to criticism and comment. Many were of opinion that the information obtained did not warrant the conclusion that the whole party was lost. Some of the criticisms made on his report induced Dr. Rae to take up the pen in self-defense; and in a letter which he addressed to the editor of the London Times, we find the following remarks, which come with great weight from one who, of all others, is most competent to speak authoritively. They were written in reply to an attack made upon him by a gentleman who had a relative with the lost expedition, and serve to show how difficult it is to form a correct judgment on subjects of which we have not had personal experience.
" It is asked by your correspondent,” says Dr. Rae, *. where Esquimaux can live, where Dr. Rae's party could find abundant means, what should prevent Sir John Franklin and his party from subsisting too ?'
No man but one perfectly unacquainted with the subject could ask such a question. At the season when Sir John Franklin's party was seen traveling over the ice, the seal-holes are covered by snow, and can only be discovered by the acute sense of smell of the native dogs; and, after the Seal-hole is discovered, much patience, experience, and care are requisite to kill the seal. As soon as the snow thaws (say in June) the seals show themselves on the ice; but they are then so difficult of approach that not one of my men (Ouglibuck, the interpreter, excepted), although they often made the attempt, could approach near enough to shoot any of these animals.
I wintered at a part of the Arctic coast remarkable by its geographical forination for the abundance of deer during the autumn migrations, but only then; and it was at that time that we laid up our winter stock of food ; but it was hard work even for us (all practiced sportsmen, picked men, and in full strength and training) to collect a sufficiency.
That portion of country near to and on which a portion of Sir John Franklin's party was seen is, in the spring, notoriously the most barren of animal life of any of the Arctic shores; and the few deer that may be seen are generally very shy, from having been hunted during the winter by Indians, on the borders of the woodlands. To prove this scarcity of game, I may add, that during my spring journey of fifty-six days' duration, one deer only and a few partridges were shot by us.
It is asked by your correspondent, 'Why the unfortunate men should have encumbered themselves with silver forks and spoons and silver plates ? ' etc. The total weight of the silver forks and spoons could not be more than four or five pounds at the utmost, and would not appear much when divided among forty persons; and any officer who has ever had the misfortune to abandon his ship or boat anywhere, but more particularly in the Arctic sea, knows how apt men are to encumber themselves with articles