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|Adolphus Washington Greely|
Adolphus Greely in 1887
March 27, 1844|
|Died||October 20, 1935
|Place of burial||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1861 – 1908|
|Commands held||Chief Signal Officer|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Early military career
Greely was born March 27, 1844, in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He entered the United States Army at the age of 17, after having been rejected twice before. He had achieved the rank of brevet Major by the end of the Civil War. Greely joined the regular Army in 1866 as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry; in 1873, Greely was promoted to First Lieutenant.
Lady Franklin Bay Expedition
In 1881, First Lieutenant Greely was given command of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition on the ship Proteus. Promoted by Henry W. Howgate, its purpose was to establish one of a chain of meteorological-observation stations as part of the First International Polar Year. The expedition also was commissioned by the US government to collect astronomical and polar magnetic data, which was carried out by the astronomer Edward Israel, who was part of Greely's crew. Another goal of the expedition was to search for any clues of the USS Jeannette, lost north of Ellesmere Island.
Greely was without previous Arctic experience, but he and his party were able to discover many hitherto unknown miles along the coast of northwest Greenland. The expedition also crossed Ellesmere Island from east to west and Lt. James B. Lockwood and David L. Brainard achieved a new "farthest north" record of 83°23'8".
In 1882, Greely sighted a mountain range during a dog sledding exploration to the interior of northern Ellesmere Island and named them the Conger Range. He also sighted the Innuitian Mountains from Lake Hazen.
Two consecutive supply parties failed to reach Greely's party encamped at Fort Conger on Ellesmere Island in 1882 and 1883. In accordance with his instructions for this case, Greely decided in August 1883 to abandon Fort Conger and retreat south with his team. They reached Cape Sabine expecting to find food and equipment depots from the supply ships, but these had not been provided. With winter setting in Greely and his men were forced to winter at Cape Sabine with inadequate rations and little fuel.
A rescue expedition, led by Capt. Winfield Scott Schley on the USRC Bear (a former whaler built in Greenock, Scotland), was sent to rescue the Greely party. By the time the Bear and ships Thetis and Alert arrived on June 22, 1884, to rescue the expedition, nineteen of Greely's 25-man crew had perished from starvation, drowning, hypothermia, and, in one case, gunshot wounds from an execution ordered by Greely.
Greely and the other survivors were themselves near death; one of the survivors died on the homeward journey. The returning survivors were venerated as heroes, though the heroism was tainted by sensational accusations of cannibalism during the remaining days of low food.
In June 1886, he was promoted to Captain after serving twenty years as a Lieutenant and, in March 1887, President Grover Cleveland appointed him as Chief Signal Officer of the U.S. Army with the rank of Brigadier General.
During his tenure as Chief Signal Officer of the Army, the following military telegraph lines were constructed, operated and maintained during the Spanish American War: Puerto Rico, 800 miles; Cuba, 3,000 miles; the Philippines, 10,200 miles. In connection with Alaska, then General Greely had constructed under very adverse conditions a telegraph system of nearly 4,000 miles, consisting of submarine cables, landcables and wireless telegraphy, the latter covering a distance of 107 miles, which at the time of installation was the longest commercial system regularly working in the world.
In 1906, he served as military commander over the emergency situation created by the San Francisco earthquake. On February 10, 1906, he was promoted to Major General and on March 27, 1908, reached the mandatory retirement age of 64.
In 1911 he represented the United States Army at the coronation of King George V.
He attended the First Presbyterian Church, Newburyport and married Henrietta Nesmith in 1878.
Honors and awards
Medal of Honor citation
He received the Medal of Honor in 1935. Rank and organization: Major General, U.S. Army, retired. Place and date: ----. Entered service at: Louisiana. Born: March 27, 1844, Newburyport, Mass. G.O. No.: 3, W.D., 1935. Act of Congress, March 21, 1935.
For his life of splendid public service, begun on March 27, 1844, having enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army on July 26, 1861, and by successive promotions was commissioned as major general February 10, 1906, and retired by operation of law on his 64th birthday.
Greely's medal was awarded in contradiction to the revised 1916 Army warrant requiring combat action and risk of life "above and beyond the call of duty." However, his Medal was the second Army presentation contrary to the combat requirement, as Charles Lindbergh (an Army reservist not on active duty) received the award for his solo transatlantic flight eight years before, in 1927. Until after WW II the Navy Medal of Honor could be awarded for noncombat actions, reflecting different criteria within the United States armed forces.
USS General A. W. Greely (AP-141)
The USS General A. W. Greely (AP-141), launched November 1944, was named in his honor.
- Three Years of Arctic Service (1886)
- Handbook of Alaska (rev. ed. 1925)
- Reminiscences of Adventure and Service (1927)
- The Polar Regions in the Twentieth Century (1928).
- Guttridge, Leonard F. (September 1, 2000). "Ghosts of Cape Sabine: the harrowing true story of the Greely expedition". Arctic Institute of North America of the University of Calgary. Retrieved April 14, 2008.
- Berton, Pierre (1988). The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the North West Passage and the North Pole. Toronto: Random House of Canada Ltd., p. 437
- Schley, Winfield S Commander, US Navy  1884 Greely Relief Expedition Washington Printing Office (via American Libraries)
- 'ENGLAND'S PRESENT TO AMERICA.; THE STEAM-SHIP ALERT FOR THE GREELY SEARCH EXPEDITION' 4/23/1884 New York Times.(via NYT Archives)
- "American Experience: The Greely Expedition". pbs.org. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
- "Adolphus Greely". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
- "American Geographical Society Honorary Fellowships". amergeog.org. Archived from the original on 26 March 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2009.
- Scott catalog # 2221.
- Barrett Tillman. Heroes: U.S. Army Medal of Honor recipients. New York: Berkeley, 2006, p. 94
- Abandoned in the Arctic (2009), a documentary film about an attempt to recreate Greely's journey Abandoned in the Arctic web site
- Greeley, G. H. (1905). Genealogy of the Greely-Greeley family. Boston, Mass: F. Wood, printer. OCLC 4579981 Missing or empty
|title=(help) Powell, Theodore: "The Long Rescue", W.H. Allen, London, 1961. Ellsberg, Edward: "Hell on Ice", New York, 1936.
- Todd, A. L. (1961). Abandoned; the story of the Greely Arctic Expedition, 1881-1884. New York: McGraw-Hill. (2001). Abandoned : the story of the Greely Arctic Expedition, 1881-1884. Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska Press. ISBN 1-889963-29-1
- Robinson, M. F. (2006). The coldest crucible: Arctic exploration and American culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (2006). The coldest crucible : Arctic exploration and American culture. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-72184-1
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Adolphus Greely|
- "Adolphus Greely". Hall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
- "Works by Adolphus Greely". Retrieved September 24, 2010. at Internet Archive. Scanned illustrated original editions.
- "Naesmyth.com". Retrieved September 24, 2010.
- "Family Tree". Retrieved September 24, 2010.
- "Antarctic Ships". Retrieved September 24, 2010.
- "U.S.R.C Bear". Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
- "Columbia Encyclopedia: Adolphus Washington Greely". Retrieved September 24, 2010.
- "Arlington National Cemetery Website: Adolphus Washington Greely (engl.)". Archived from the original on 31 August 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
- "Adolphus Washington Greely". Retrieved September 24, 2010.
- "Henrietta Hudson Cruger Nesmith, wife of Adolphus W. Greely". Retrieved September 24, 2010.
- "Army Medal of Honor". Retrieved September 24, 2010.[dead link]
- The Greely Expedition — An American Experience Documentary