45. Great Britain. Admiralty.    

Further Papers Relative to the Recent Arctic Expeditions in Search of Sir John Franklin and the Crews of H.M.S. “Erebus” and “Terror.”   London: Printed by George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswoode, 1855.


Detail of the map of Bedford Pim’s sledge expedition in 1853, which discovered HMS Investigator at Mercy Bay on Banks Island, from Great Britain. Admiralty, Further Papers Relative to the Recent Arctic Expeditions, 1855.

A number of sledges were sent out from HMS Resolute in 1853, as it lay frozen in at Dealy Island, just off Melville Island.  One of the expeditions, led by Bedford Pim on HM Sledge John Dyer, crossed the ice of Viscount Melville Sound and discovered the Investigator and its crew at Mercy Bay on Banks Island. The map of Pim’s journey was printed in these parliamentary papers, yet another of the Arctic Blue Books (see item 39).

The crew of the Investigator was in bad shape, and many of them were sledged back to Beechey Island, where they departed for England later in 1853.  These were truly the first men to complete the Northwest Passage, although McClure himself would later lay claim to that honor.  McClure and the healthier members of the crew would depart their doomed vessel in 1854 and travel back to England, along with the men of the Resolute and the other ships that Belcher chose to abandon.  In a cosmic rebuttal to Belcher’s decision, the Resolute drifted out into Baffin Bay the next year, where it was salvaged by an American whaler.  Suitably restored, it was returned to Queen Victoria in 1856 as a gesture from the U.S government.  Unimpressed, the Admiralty never recommissioned the ship.   But when the ship was dismantled in 1879, a desk made of timbers from the Resolute was presented to U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes.  The “Resolute Desk” still sits in the Oval Office at the White House.

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