Second Franklin Expedition ship finally located
September 12, 2016 3:32 PM   Subscribe

The HMS Terror, the second ship of Franklin's doomed expedition to find the Northwest Passage, has been located. Today the Arctic Research Foundation announced that it has located what it believes to be the HMS Terror, one of two ships belonging to the 1845 expedition. Official confirmation will come from Parks Canada.

The Franklin Expedition's other ship, the HMS Erebus was located in 2014 near Ugjulik, NWT. Both ships were abandoned in April 1848.

Local knowledge was crucial in locating the wreck. "Crewman Sammy Kogvik, 49, of Gjoa Haven...told a bizarre story. About six years ago, Kogvik said, he and a hunting buddy were headed on snowmobiles to fish in a lake when they spotted a large piece of wood, which looked like a mast, sticking out of the sea ice covering Terror Bay."

Sir John Franklin was already an experienced Arctic explorer when he was chosen to lead the 129-man expedition to discover the Northwest Passage. The Erebus and Terror became firmly lodged in the ice of Victoria Straight near King William Island and it was decided to abandon them and make an overland trek for help. A note to that effect, dated April 25, 1848, was left in a stone cairn on King William Island and later discovered by a rescue expedition.

According to the note, Franklin had died on June 11, 1847 and Captain Francis Crozier was in command of the expedition, then numbered at 105. Written on a corner of the note was the addition “and start on to-morrow 26th for Back’s Fish River”.

There were no survivors.

The fate of the Franklin Expedition has been of absorbing interest for nearly 170 years. Franklin's wife, Jane, urged the Admiralty to send a rescue mission, which it did in 1848. Other rescuers, British and American, were tempted by the promise of a reward to join the hunt. The graves of three crew members were discovered on Beechey Island. In 1854, Dr. John Rae, a surgeon and explorer from Orkney, heard stories from the Inuit who had encountered the trek. These stories suggested that some of the survivors had been driven to cannibalism to survive. This assertion, which led to a backlash against Rae, was proven correct by the discovery of human bones on King William Island with cut marks on them.

What killed the remaining members of the Franklin Expedition? Studies of the evidence point to a combination of exposure, starvation, lead poisoning, scurvy, and inadequate clothing for the Arctic environment.

There's heaps of information online if you'd like to know more about the Franklin Expedition and the numerous attempts to find out what happened to it.


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" presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of Her Majesty, Jan. 1855
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Amy, R., Bhatnagar, R., Damkjar, E., & Beattie, O. (1986). The last Franklin expedition: report of a postmortem examination of a crew member. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, 135(2), 115–117. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1491204/
Bayliss, R. (2002). Sir John Franklin’s last arctic expedition: a medical disaster. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 95(3), 151–153. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1279489/
Battersby, William. Identification of the Probable Source of the Lead Poisoning Observed in Members of the Franklin Expedition, Journal of the Hakluyt Society (September 2008). http://www.hakluyt.com/PDF/Battersby_Franklin.pdf
Beattie, Owen B., and Savelle James M. "Discovery of Human Remains from Sir John Franklin's Last Expedition." Historical Archaeology 17, no. 2 (1983): 100-05. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25615456.

Beesly, A. H. (Augustus Henry). Sir John Franklin (1881)
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Eddy, T. M. Sir John Franklin (1854)
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Francis Crozier (1796-1 848?), Arctic Profiles pp. 68-69. http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic37-1-68.pdf

Franklin, John. Thirty Years in the Arctic Regions, Or, The Adventures of Sir John Franklin (1859)
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Goodsir, Robert Anstruther. An Arctic voyage to Baffin's Bay and Lancaster Sound : in search of friends with Sir John Franklin (1850)
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Houston, C. S. (1986). Continuing interest in the Franklin expeditions. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, 135(2), 109–110. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1491183/

Inglefield, Edward Augustus, Sir; Dickie, George; Sutherland, Peter C. A summer search for Sir John Franklin with a peep into the Polar Basin (1853)
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Kane, Elisha Kent. Arctic Explorations in Search of Sir John Franklin (1885)
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Kane, Elisha Kent. Report to the Secretary of the United States Navy, at Washington, of the Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin, during the Years 1853-4-5, with a Chart, Showing the Discoveries Made in the Arctic Regions (1 Jan. 1856)
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Kane, Elisha Kent. The United States Grinnell Expedition in search of Sir John Franklin : a personal narrative (1854)
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Keenleyside, Anne, Bertulli Margaret, and Fricke Henry C. "The Final Days of the Franklin Expedition: New Skeletal Evidence." Arctic 50, no. 1 (1997): 36-46. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40512040.

Markham, Albert Hastings, Sir. Life of Sir John Franklin and the North-west Passage (1891)
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M'Clintock, F. L. Discoveries by the Late Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin and His Party, Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London vol. 4 (1 Jan. 1859)
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M'Clintock, F. L. The Expedition in Search for Sir John Franklin, Journal of the American Geographical and Statistical Society, vol. 1 (1 Nov. 1859)
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Notman, DN; Anderson, L; Beattie, OB; Amy, R. Arctic paleoradiology: portable radiographic examination of two frozen sailors from the Franklin expedition (1845-1848). American Journal of Roentgenology. 1987; 149: 347-350. http://www.ajronline.org/doi/pdf/10.2214/ajr.149.2.347

Osborn, Sherard. The career, last voyage and fate of Captain Sir John Franklin (1860)
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Petermann, A. (August). Historical summary of the search for Sir John Franklin (1853)
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The Polar Seas and Sir John Franklin (1853)
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Rae, John. Arctic Exploration, with Information Respecting Sir John Franklin's Missing Party, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, vol 25 (1 Jan 1855)
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Rondeau, Robin M. The wrecks of Franklin’s ships Erebus and Terror; their likely location and the cause of failure of previous search expeditions, Journal of the Hakluyt Society (March 2010). http://www.hakluyt.com/PDF/Rondeau_Franklin.pdf

Ross, John, Sir. Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin : a narrative of the circumstances and causes which led to the failure of the searching expeditions sent by government and others for the rescue of Sir John Franklin (1855)
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Shapton, Leanne. Artifacts of a Doomed Expedition, New York Times Magazine (18 Mar. 2016). http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/03/20/magazine/franklin-expedition.html?_r=0

Simmonds, Peter Lund. Sir John Franklin and the Arctic regions (1852)
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Traill, H. D. (Henry Duff). The life of Sir John Franklin, R.N. (1896)
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Weld, Charles Richard. The search for Sir John Franklin. A lecture delivered at the Russell institution. January 15, 1851
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Also, here's a great, creepy fictional account: The Terror by Dan Simmons.

And, for good measure, here are some videos.
Buried in Ice, a 1998 NOVA documentary.
Video footage of the Erebus by Parks Canada divers.
posted by orrnyereg (57 comments total) 139 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yet another thing to add to the eerie, end times feel of 2016.
Great post!
posted by thatwhichfalls at 3:35 PM on September 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


Also, here's a great, creepy fictional account: The Terror by Dan Simmons.

This is an excellent book, it really captures the feel of being stranded in the ice.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:39 PM on September 12, 2016 [26 favorites]


I keep saying it, but when you named your ships Erebus and Terror, well, DUH.
posted by Kitteh at 3:40 PM on September 12, 2016 [59 favorites]


I can't believe it was in a place CALLED Terror Bay and it took them this long to figure it out.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:41 PM on September 12, 2016 [34 favorites]


I recommend this as musical accompaniment to this fine post.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 3:46 PM on September 12, 2016 [14 favorites]


Surprised that the Trudeau government put enough money into this project to successfully find the second ship -- I was under the impression that the Franklin search was Harper's baby.

Still, I've been fascinated by the Franklin story ever since I read Dan Simmons' The Terror a decade ago, and I'll be very glad to hear what if anything this find tells us about the Franklin expedition's last days. It is very striking that it looks like the ship was remanned and sailed south.
posted by crazy with stars at 3:47 PM on September 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


I also liked The Terror by Dan Simmons, even if it does get a bit Mystical Inuit Woman Magic in it. It was the perfect book for me to read my first winter in Canada.
posted by Kitteh at 3:47 PM on September 12, 2016 [4 favorites]




I would recommend Barrow's Boys by Fergus Fleming to anyone with any interest in the Franklin expedition, or polar exploration in general (and/or great books).
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:50 PM on September 12, 2016


Arctic Grail by Canada's Historian Laureate, Pierre Berton, is also a great read.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:52 PM on September 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


crazy with stars: I think the Arctic Research Foundation is privately funded (by Jim Balsillie, Mr. Blackberry) - but perhaps there is a public element?

According
to the Ottawa Citizen, Parks Canada has not yet confirmed the find:

I don't really get why Parks Canada wasn't involved in the entire thing.
posted by operalass at 4:05 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Previously and previously on the location of HMS Erebus.
posted by asperity at 4:06 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I keep saying it, but when you named your ships Erebus and Terror, well, DUH.

Erebus and Terror started their careers as bomb ships. (previously). As I pointed out in the previous post, the HMS Terror that froze with Franklin began its career with its bombs bursting in air over Fort McHenry. Born in fire, died in ice.
posted by zamboni at 4:08 PM on September 12, 2016 [20 favorites]


This is also appropriate musical accompaniment.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:10 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]




Elisha Kent Kane is one of my ancestors. I discovered him when I was taking a History of Physical Anthropology course, and we were reading some of Gauss's very racist research on human cranial capacity, which included the phrase "The skulls were procured from the Arctic by Dr. E. Kane. At the time, I was an undergrad named E. Kane applying to grad school, and thought that was a cool coincidence, but then I asked my folks and it turned out that he's a great great etc. uncle who had an amazing and crazy life, even when he wasn't procuring skulls for scientific racists.

He was marooned and trekked across the Arctic! He carried out an illicit romance with Margaret Fox who held seances, against the wishes of his family, which was immortalized after his death in a book, The Secret Love Life of Dr. Kane. He had scurvy! He discovered the ultimate route up to the North Pole! A Dr. E. Kane to aspire too!!!!
posted by ChuraChura at 4:19 PM on September 12, 2016 [59 favorites]


Doesn't the fact that the HMS Terror was found in Terror Bay suggest that somebody else at some point thought that the ship might be around there? The article doesn't address the source of the bay's name.
posted by Flashman at 4:21 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]




Yes, I didn't want to put this in the main body of the post but "Terror Bay" is kind of "X marks the spot", isn't it?

Also, apologies for the funky formatting but I was in a rush so I could go fix dinner.
posted by orrnyereg at 4:34 PM on September 12, 2016


Well, I mean, there's "yeah, they're probably roughly in that big bay over there" and then there's "we got video of the wreckage", right?

Anyway, apropos of nothing (apart from being named after the very ship of the topic), Mount Terror.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:37 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sorry, another addition: Ross Island of Antarctica is home to Mounts Erebus and Terror, an active and inactive volcano, respectively. They were named after, you guessed it, HMSes Erebus and Terror by explorer Sir James Ross--they were Ross's ships before the Franklin Expedition.
posted by orrnyereg at 4:39 PM on September 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


(In my excitement, I misquoted the passage from Gauss. The skulls were procured from the Arctic by "The intrepid explorer, Dr. E. Kane!")
posted by ChuraChura at 5:05 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


"I believe a lot of people approached Parks Canada about the possibly of a ship in Terror Bay but I don’t think they really took it seriously" - article from Nunatsiaq Online with an emphasis on the lack of paying attention to native people.
posted by larrybob at 5:23 PM on September 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


They were named after, you guessed it, HMSes Erebus and Terror by explorer Sir James Ross--they were Ross's ships before the Franklin Expedition.

One gets the impression the British military of two centuries ago was not oversupplied with materiel; when John Graves Simcoe arrived in Upper Canada in 1793 to found the town of York (which ultimately grew into the city of Toronto), he was sleeping in a tent that James Cook had been using decades earlier.

The tent later saw use as a summer resort home for the Simcoe family on the shores of the Don river where it was apparently much beloved by Simcoe's young son Francis*, and the tent was dubbed Castle Frank in his honour. The current-day Castle Frank subway station stands nearby.

*Frank would follow his father into the army and ultimately die on the battlefield during the Peninsular Campaign in 1812.


Yes, I used to be a tour guide.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:32 PM on September 12, 2016 [23 favorites]


Much like [expletive deleted] (and maybe others) said, if anyone had just bothered to listen to the Inuit... but that never happens.

Thanks for all of the links, I look forward to reading through them later.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 6:13 PM on September 12, 2016


Well, I mean, tents nice enough to serve as a summer resort home are not exactly a dime a dozen...
posted by tobascodagama at 6:17 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


I came here expecting a link to either Stan Rogers or the last scene from the series Due South. Metafilter did not disappoint.
posted by Ber at 7:10 PM on September 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


The explorer John Rae spoke with lots of Inuit guides and hunters; they helped him determine the fate of the Franklin expedition. Unfortunately his racist peers, spurred on by Franklin's widow and Charles Dickens, discounted his story, preferring to believe that the Inuit "savages" had attacked and killed Franklin and his crew.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:16 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


If random strangers on other parts of the internet are correct, it was McClintock who identified the bay as the likely site of the ship, and so gave Terror Bay its name. There is another suggestion that the Inuit called it Big Ship Bay. I have no idea if either suggestion is true, despite my digging. Regardless, even discounting those possibilities, the modern Inuit reports makes me wonder why that wasn't the hunt's main search area. But I am sure that that will be fleshed out in the next while.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:23 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I don't even need to click on a link to know I'll be telling strangers about this post for a long time.

Flagging as amazing, yeah!
posted by vrakatar at 7:45 PM on September 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Does anyone remember that cool 70's-era Franklin Expedition Diorama in the Ontario Science Centre in Don Mills?
posted by ovvl at 7:48 PM on September 12, 2016


Why would Parks Canada have anything to do with it? Is the ocean a park? I would have thought the ocean was under the jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:14 PM on September 12, 2016


With a bibliography?!? Nice post!
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 8:19 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well. Now I know what I'm doing with my day off tomorrow!
posted by MissySedai at 8:32 PM on September 12, 2016


Why would Parks Canada have anything to do with it? Is the ocean a park? I would have thought the ocean was under the jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The two ships have actually been National Historic Sites since 1992 - in absentia, as it were.
posted by lumberbaron at 8:33 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Parks Canada does lots of archaeological work both in and out of parks. Having said that there are several National Marine Parks of various flavours that Parks Canada has jurisdiction over. They are also in charge of national historic sites.
posted by Mitheral at 8:34 PM on September 12, 2016


2016 internet: Boaty McBoatface!
2016 admiralty: Do you see, this is a serious mission, and she'll be operating in some very dangerous waters and, well, would you want our PR department to have to paste that in the middle of some potentially very tragic headlines?

1845 internet: We don't exist yet, but if we did we'd probably suggest HMS Floating Deathtrap of Lead Poisoning, Frostbite, Cannibalism, and Scurvy
1845 admiralty: Pity that's but too long to fit in the Register. HMS Terror it is!
posted by 7segment at 9:20 PM on September 12, 2016 [28 favorites]


The Inuit have known where these ships are since they got stuck in the ice 170 years ago. Maybe they should have been listened to sooner.

One of Crozier's descendants was on NPR today talking about this and how it was essentially due to prejudice.
posted by rhizome at 9:36 PM on September 12, 2016


I keep saying it, but when you named your ships Erebus and Terror, well, DUH.

I think the idea was to frighten the ice, but any fool knows, artic ice always plays it cool.

---------
We're getting the last laugh, though. Cough, cough.
posted by notyou at 9:40 PM on September 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is Paul Watson, author of the first article in this outstanding FPP... Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd fame??
posted by seawallrunner at 12:58 AM on September 13, 2016


I came here to say "but didn't the Inuit go 'dude it's RIGHT OVER THERE'" ages ago? Glad to see a couple of people beat me to it.
posted by tel3path at 1:30 AM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Those fools, those poor, poor fools; they've doomed us all...

R'lyeh is in the Arctic. We tried to deceive them; they were supposed to keep searching the Pacific...

“That is not dead which can eternal lie, yet with stranger aeons, even Death may die.”
posted by lowtide at 5:23 AM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is Paul Watson, author of the first article in this outstanding FPP... Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd fame??

Nah, different Paul Watson.
posted by lumberbaron at 6:15 AM on September 13, 2016


There is a fantastic board game called Expedition: Northwest Passage. Every time we play it, someone tries to wrangle a shortcut and winds up getting stranded on the ice.
posted by xedrik at 6:56 AM on September 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


More musical accompaniment by Sinead O'Connor.

Outstanding post!
posted by Hop123 at 7:27 AM on September 13, 2016


Previously on MeFi, the... interesting.. political reality of recognizing who was responsible for finding the Erebus was discussed. Assigning credit to the RCGS, a more fame-seeking private group, seemed to be relatively unfounded.

I am sure more details are forthcoming, but I am pleased that there isn't a single mention of the RCGS this time around.
posted by mikeh at 7:36 AM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ricochet biscuit I've wondered enough times about the name of the castle frank station that I found your explanation incredibly satisfying (but not enough times that I have bothered to look it up, apparently, though I blame the fact that I generally don't have cellular data turned on when I visit and cannot instantly look it up on my phone).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:35 AM on September 13, 2016


best of the web indeed
posted by lescour at 11:45 AM on September 13, 2016


Because i am a Geography freak I would like very much to know where Ugjulik is as Google maps doesn't.
The Guardian tiny map shows it to be on the SW corner of King William Island, but I would prefer a little more.
posted by adamvasco at 12:26 PM on September 13, 2016


Previously (felix, Resolute Desk, 2009).
posted by Twang at 12:29 PM on September 13, 2016


From the Beaverton: 3 survivors rescued from wreckage of HMS Terror.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:47 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Fatal Passage is the book you want if you're interested in John Rae, the Orcadian who actually bothered to go and talk to local Inuit about what happened to the Franklin Expedition.

Studies of the evidence point to a combination of exposure, starvation, lead poisoning, scurvy, and inadequate clothing for the Arctic environment.

Also: tuberculosis. All three of the crewmembers who died the first winter either definitely or probably had TB; there were deaths from TB on the ships that were part of the rescue missions. It seems like TB was so rampant that it was impossible to crew a ship without people with TB, and once they are on board it is an ideal environment for the spread of the disease. It probably wasn't so much of an issue with earlier (or later) expeditions because it took the combination of it with the other factors mentioned above to really make a big impact.

(And to note that people tend to associate scurvy with bleeding gums, which certainly happens; but it also can cause bleeding anywhere - any bleeding into joint spaces would make a difficult journey impossible. It can also cause sudden death by bleeding into the pericardium.)

Another interesting possibility is that of the expedition causing complete environmental collapse in the local area (I think this is from Unravelling the Franklin Mystery: The Inuit Testimony - and even if it isn't, it's a book I'd reccomend). One thing that sometimes come up is "why didn't they live off the land, like (insert someone like Amundsen here)". They were well-armed, and the last Inuit report that is probably of them is of hearing gunfire. The population of both ships was significantly more than estimates of the local Inuit population (even taking an extremely wide radius), and there is a suggestion of Inuit population drop afterwards. They may have hunted successfully - and caused a collapse in wildlife populations that meant that not only did they die, but local Inuit died as well.
posted by Vortisaur at 1:54 PM on September 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


From the Beaverton: 3 survivors rescued from wreckage of HMS Terror.

At press time, the survivors were working with the estate of Stan Rogers to update the song ‘Northwest Passage’ by removing the famous ‘cannibalism’ verse.

Genius dot com note on the lines "leaving weathered, broken bones/ And a long-forgotten lonely cairn of stones"
posted by larrybob at 2:08 PM on September 13, 2016


adamvasco:

I don't have my references at the moment, alas, but I remember Ugjulik/Utjulik/Oot-goo-lik (and any of dozens of more possible transliterations) as being an areal term for the eastern part of Queen Maud Gulf, the western shore of the Adelaide Peninsula, and even some of SW King William Island--not something that maps well to something you can point to on a map.

This page directly associates it with the waters off the shores of the areas I mentioned.
posted by Earthtopus at 6:21 AM on September 14, 2016


Well, I mean, tents nice enough to serve as a summer resort home are not exactly a dime a dozen...

Now, when I say "summer resort home" I mostly mean "spot to wait out the semi-annual cholera season." It was a tent.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:54 PM on September 16, 2016


Serendipity!

I just read Bookshelf this weekend, and it has quite a bit about the fact that these two ships took 2700 books with them on this voyage (1500 on one, 1200 on the other ship. Forgive me, I don't remember which was which). The logistics for putting the weight of a library on the water. I suspect the author is all over this news.
posted by DigDoug at 4:28 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I first encountered the Franklin Expedition via Vollmann's The Rifles.
posted by mwhybark at 10:14 AM on September 24, 2016


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