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The Jeannette Expedition

On July 8, 1879, amid cheering crowds, the U.S.S. Jeannette (formerly the Pandora built in England in 1862), a three-masted bark-rigged steam yacht of 420 tons burden, former British navy gun vessel adapted for Arctic waters, set sail from San Francisco for the Bering Strait. She had arrived in San Francisco from Havre, France, through the Straits of Magellan. Up to this point most of the great polar explorations had been conducted by the British or the Scandinavians, sometimes the Russians. But the United States was entering this game with the goal of planging the American flag at the North Pole. There was enough money among individuals like James Gordon Bennett, proprietor of the New York Herald, and enough interest.

The crew was representative of the people of San Francisco after the Gold Rush: Some American citizens, Immigrants from the seafaring countries of Denmark, Norway, Scotland and England. Ah Sam and Charles Tong Sing, Chinese men from San Francisco's Chinatown. And two Inuit dog drivers. The officers of the ship were U.S. Naval Academy graduates: the navigator Lt. John W. Danenhower, the engineer George W. Melville, and, of course, George W. De Long himself. Civilian scientists, Raymond L. Newcomb, a Smithsonian-affiliated naturalist. Jerome J. Collins, a meteorologist from Ireland. And William M. Dunbar, Ice Pilot.

July 10, 1879, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

The American Arctic Expedition.

On Tuesday, the 8th inst., the Jeannette, fitted out by James Gordon Bennett for Arctic exploration, left San Francisco on her difficult and doubtful expedition. It is the purpose of Lieutenant De Long, her commander, to attempt a passage northward through Behring's Straits. She will thus be compelled to enter upon unexplored ground, since beyond the little known territory called Wrangel's Land, no information has ever been gathered... The expedition has been fitted out with lavish liberality, and as far as experience and forethought can go everything has been provided for. The only circumstance which seems to be regrettable is the small power of the Jeannette's engines, for it sometimes has happened that in Arctic exploration important results have depended on the ability of the vessel to reach a certain point in a given time. Speed is specially desirable when traversing broken ice floes, and the want of it may at critical junctures prove serious. It is not expected that the expedition will return, or complete its purpose, in much less than three years...

The Jeanette.

On August 12, the Jeannette anchored opposite the settlement known by Americans as St. Michael's and by Russians as Michaelovski. About 40 trained dogs, three dog-sleds and fur clothing were taken on board, along with two native Alaskans, Anequin and Alexai. On the 25th, the Jeanette arrived at St. Lawrence Bay, East Siberia, 30 miles south of East Cape. They were caught in a gale, and "due to the condition of the ship, and deeply laden, the sea had a clean sweep over us. It stove in our forward parts, carried away the bridge, caved the bulkheads..."

Our Lost Explorers: The Narrative of the Jeannette Arctic Expedition as Related by the Survivors.

The Cruise of the Corwin. John Muir.

On September 2, 1879, when about 50 miles south of Herald Isladn, Captain Barnes, of the American whale-bark Sea Breeze, saw the Jeannette under full sail and steam. By September 11, after a search by Captain C. L. Hooper of the revenue cutter Corwin, there was no trace of the Jeannette.

Several expeditions set out, beginning In the spring of 1881, when a Jeannette Relief Expedition Board was established with the Corwin steaming north from San Francisco. Searches were also conducted by England, Holland, Russian men-of-war and by natives of the North Siberian coast. In December 1881, telegraphs were received that survivors from the shipwrecked steamer Jeannette were found crushed in the ice in latitude 77 dg. 15 min., north, longitude 157 degrees east. Three cutters had set out, two were safe, one missing.

Shortly after crossing the Chukchi Sea, the Jeannette was caught suddenly in an ice pack near Wrangel Island. For the next 21 months, the ship and crew drifted northwest and closer to their initial goal of reaching the North Pole. During this time, DeLong tracked and recorded extensive scientific data. In May 1881 the crew discovered two islands, naming them Jeannette and Henrietta respectively, and in June the crew discovered Bennett Island, claiming it for the United States.

Icebound. The Jeannette.

Trapped in ice for two years, the ship went down in the ice on June 12, 1881 after having drifted 22 months in the pack-ice.

On 12 June, the pressure of the ice pack finally began to crush the ship, forcing the DeLong and his crew to unload equipment and provisions onto the ice before the ship sank the following morning. The expedition now faced the long and arduous march to the Siberian coast. Putting their provisions in the lifeboats, the crew set-out, eventually setting sail in their three boats in hopes of reaching the mainland. One of the boats and its crew were lost in a sudden violent storm, but the two remaining boats, commanded by DeLong and Chief Engineer George W. Melville, survived only to find themselves faced with a long trek inland over frozen delta. Melville and DeLong separated, seeking to find help faster.

Thirty-three officers and crew of the Jeannette left Semenoffski Island in three boats. DeLong and his crew walked nearly a thousand miles to the coast of Siberia. On September 28, 1881, fourteen officers and crew reached the hut of a Yakut hunter. (Image: Lake Baikal. Jeannette Expedition. 1882)

On January 8, 1882, ten members of the crew, accompanied by a Cossack guide, traveled in sledges called povvshkas left Yakutsk and started for Irkutsk in Eastern Siberia, more than 1900 miles distant.

Veatka Tungus Canoe. Jeannette Arctic Indigenous Tribes. 1882.

Mr Jackson, a Special Corespondent of the New York Herald was given horses and support from His Imperial Majesty the Emperior Alexander Alexandrovich, Supreme Ruler of all the Russias from St. Petersburg across the Siberian wilds to Irkutsk and return.

November 17, 1893, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Bonaparte in Exile.
The Famous General's Trip to St. Helena and How He Behaved.

At 6 p. m. dinner was announced, when we all sat down in apparent good spirits, and our actions declared our appetites fully equal to those spirits. General Bonaparte ate of most dishes on the table, using his fingers instead of a fork, seeming to prefer the rich dishes to the plainly dressed food and not even tasting vegetables. Claret was his beverage, which he drank out of a tumbler, keeping the bottle before him.

1903. Longwood House, Napoleon Bonaparte Death Room, Saint Helena IslandNapoleon in Exile.

He conversed the whole of dinner time, confining his conversation principally to the admiral, with whom he talked over the whole of the Russian campaign and attributed the failure of it in the first instance to the burning of Moscow, in the next to the frost setting in much sooner than was expected. He said he meant only to have refreshed his troops for four or five days, and then to have pushed on for St. Petersburg, but finding all his plans frustrated by the burning of Moscow, and his army likely to perish, he hurried back to Paris, setting out with a chosen bodyguard, one-half of which were frozen to death the first night.

He said nothing could be more horrible than the retreat from Moscow, and indeed the whole of the Russian campaign; that for several days together it appeared to him as if he were marching through a sea of fire, owing to the constant succession of villages in flames, which arose in every direction as far as the eye could reach. He said the burning of these villages as well as of Moscow was attributed to his troops, but that it was invariably done by the natives.

Map of Russia, 1870s. In Russian.

After dinner he did not drink wine, but he took a glass of noyau after his coffee, previous to rising from the table. After dinner he walked the deck, conversing principally with the admiral, to whom he said, during this conversation, that previous to his going to Elba he had made preparations for having a navy of a hundred sail of the line; that he had established a conscription for the navy, and that the Toulon fleet was entirely manned and brought forward by people of this description; that he had ordered them positively to get under way and maneuver every day the weather would permit, and to occasionally exchange long shots with our ships; that this had been remonstrated against by those about him, and it had cost him much money to repair the accidents which occurred from the want of maritime knowledge, such as ships getting foul of each other, splitting their sails, springing their masts, etc., but he found this tended to improve the crews, and he determined to persevere in his plan.

After walking for some time he proposed a round game at cards, in compliance with which the admiral, Sir George Bingham, Captain Ross and myself assembled with General Bonaparte and his followers in the after cabin, where we played at ving-tun (sic), which was the game chosen by the ex-emperor, till nearly 11 o'clock, when we all retired to our beds. Century.

September 12, 1914, Sausalito News, Sausalito, California, U.S.A.

Turks Prepare to Strike at Russia and Greece

Washington. With 600,000 veteran troops mobilized and ready for instant action, Turkey is preparing for war on the allies, according to high authority.

The same authority declared the first move of the Turkish campaign would be directed simultaneously against Russia and England. A flying army would be sent into the Caucasus to strike the Russians on their flank and rear. The other army would go direct to Egypt, where it was said the Mohammedan troops of Great Britain would rally to the Turkish cause.

At the British Embassy the belief was expressed that in event Turkey declares war on Russia, the two German battleships, Goeben and Breslau, recently transferred to Turkey, would be sent into the Black sea. It was predicted that the entrance of Turkey into the group of warring nations would produce no change in the present activities of France or England.

"This operation is not meant to allow Turkey to attack Greece, her difference with Greece being the smallest of her concerns today. She has to prepare in view of other and much more important contingencies."


The Battle Between the Black Sea Fleet and the Armoured Cruiser Goeben
November 5, 1914
Mikhail Mikhailovich Semyonov

Russia.Moscow 1812: Napoleon's Fatal MarchRussia.
Adam Zamoyski

Oxford Russian DictionaryRussia.
Invaluable for any serious student of Russian, or any Russian native speaker learning English. This revised edition includes new supplementary material with a correspondence section, grammar help, and treatment of commonly used but tricky words. The text has also been updated with thousands of new English and Russian words, important given changes in language and culture over the last few years.

Ethiopa through Russian Eyes.Russia. Ethiopia Through Russian Eyes Country in Transition1896-1898Russia.
A. Bulatovich, Richard Seltzer

Sea Cows, Shamans, and Scurvy: Alaska's First Naturalist: Georg Wilhelm StellerRussia.
Ann Arnold

The Russian Shores of the Black Sea in the Autumn of 1852 
With a Voyage down the Volga, and a Tour through the Country of the Don Cossacks
Cambridge Library Collection
Laurence Oliphant

The Eastern Seas: A narrative of the voyage of H. M. S. "Dwarf" in China, Japan and Formosa. With a description of the coast of Russian Tartary: Siberia, from the Corea to the river AmurRussia.
Bonham Ward Bax

A History of Russia, Vol. 1: To 1917 Anthem Series on Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies)Russia.
Walter G. Moss

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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