37. Osborn, Sherard (1822-1875 ).

Stray Leaves from an Arctic Journal, or, Eighteen Months in the Polar Regions:  In Search of Sir John Franklin's Expedition, in the Years 1850-51.  London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1852.


Two sledges battling a storm, from Sherrard Osborn, Stray Leaves from an Arctic Journal, 1852.


The four ships of the Austin expedition, in winter harbor at Griffith Island, from Sherrard Osborn, Stray Leaves from an Arctic Journal, 1852.

Osborn was commander of HMS Pioneer, a screw steamer that served as tender for HMS Resolute, as part of the Austin expedition of 1850-51.  One of the most innovative features of this expedition was the plan to send out a number sledge parties in the spring, while the ships were still frozen into their harbors.  Sledge exploration was the brainchild of Lt. Francis McClintock, commander of the Intrepid, who had tried it out on a previous Franklin search expedition.  For the Austin expedition, each sledge had its own name, its own commander, and its own flag, as in HMS Lady Franklin, where the HMS stands for “Her Majesty’s Sledge.”  Some of the sledge journeys were prodigious—McClintock led HMS Perseverance 760 miles in 80 days and reached Melville Island, which had not been visited since Parry was there in 1820.  These sledges were man-hauled; the British had not yet adopted the Inuit practice of using dog-drawn sleds.

That winter of 1850-51 there were nine ships frozen into the area in or near the Barrow Straits.  The four ships of the Austin expedition were in a bay off of Griffith Island, which is southwest of Cornwallis Island.  All four can be seen in Osborn’s drawing of the winter landscape of 1851; his own ship, Pioneer, is in the near foreground at left; the Intrepid and Assistance are in the distance at right.

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