Superb autographed card signed by then Sergeant (eventual General) David L. Brainard. Considered the true hero of the doomed Lady Franklin Bay Expedition (a.k.a. Greely Expedition). Card signed and dated shortly after their rescue in 1884.
Measures 4" x 2.5" and is in fine condition.
Please see below for more on Brainard. He was quite a man.
$125.00 plus shipping
"David Legg Brainard, the fifth son of Alanson and Maria, was born on the farm in Norway, New York, on December 21, 1856. He attended public school in Norway, and the State Normal School (teacher's college) at Courtland, New York, At age 19 he visited the Philadelphia Centennial, where he viewed the wonders of the new Machine Age. Upon his return home he had to change cars in New York City, but when he reached in his pocket for money, there was none. Too proud to write home for the needed funds, and after looking around for a solution to his predicament, he took the free ferry that ran to the United States Army Post on Governor's Island, and there on September 18, 1876, he signed up as a Private in the 2nd U.S. Cavalry. Changing into a uniform, he found a $10 bill tucked in the pocket of his civilian shirt . . . but he was in the Army now!
In due course Private Brainard was promoted to Corporal and Sergeant, and took part in Sioux, Bannock and Nez Perce Indian Campaigns in 1877-78 under General N.A. Miles, during which he was wounded on the face and right hand.
Brainard transferred to the Signal Corps after eight years with the cavalry, leading to his assignment as First Sergeant on the Greeley Expedition, which was formed as a result of international polar conferences in 1879 and 1880 in Hamburg and Berne. The United States joined with England, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, Russia, Germany, Denmark, and Austria in establishing a ring of widely separated outposts within the Arctic Circle to record a series of meteorological and magnetic observations.
The Greeley Expedition consisted of four officers, 19 enlisted men, an astronomer, meteorologist, photographer, and two Eskimos, under the command of Lieutenant Adolphus W. Greeley. Its base, named Fort Conger, was set up at Lady Franklin Bay, 1,000 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 250 miles north of the last Eskimo settlement.
After Greeley made two journeys into the interior of Grinnell Land, his next goal was to reach a "new farthest north" point toward the North Pole. On April 13, 1882, Sgt. Brainard led nine men with four heavy sledges northward, followed the next day by Lt. James B. Lockwood with 12 men and 11 dog sleds. Brainard was to put down a base for the use of the lighter-loaded party. Suffering through average temperatures of 75 degrees below freezing, violent storms and rough ice, they reached latitude 83 degrees 30' North, within 350 miles of the North Pole, the farthest north ever reached by man. A silk U.S. flag made by Mrs. Greeley was unfurled on land they named Lockwood Island. After 275 years the record belonged to the United States, not England.
While the expedition had two years of supplies, a relief ship pushed north in August, 1882, with supplemental supplies, but was forced back by heavy ice, leaving a small food cache on Littleton Island. In the following August a second relief ship sank with its precious supplies. Its crew was rescued by a third government vessel. Records show that from July 1882 to August 1883, of the 50,000 rations taken by three steamships to the vicinity of Littleton Island, only 1,000 - a three-month supply - were left, the remainder lost in the sea or returned to the United States.
The Greeley party has already passed their first terrible winter without adequate supplies. Now their fate seemed sealed. Greely and his men struggled to the south and in October, 1883, established a camp near Cape Sabine. Crude huts were built of heavy granite stones dug with bleeding hands from the snow and ice. Then as the men waited in desperation for the relief ship that never came, they ate such wild game and seafood as they were able to bring in, then they gnawed on sealskins, ate their boot soles, even the lashings of their sledges.
One by one the men died, including the second in command, Lieutenant James B. Lockwood, the man who had planted the flag farthest north. In his journal of April 9th, 1884, Sgt. Brainard wrote:
"Lieut. Lockwood became unconscious early this morning and at 4:30 p.m. breathed his last. This will be a sad blow to his family who evidently idolized him. To me it is also a sorrowful event. He had been my companion during long and eventful excursions, and my feeling toward him was akin to that of a brother. Biederbick and myself straightened his limps and prepared his remains for burial. This was the saddest duty I have ever yet been called upon to perform."
As the remaining survivors were starving, Sgt. Brainard, who was in charge of the rations of sealskin and other miserable substitutes for food, made primitive scales and carefully weighed out the ration of each man. As shown by the official reports, when others were too weak to move, Brainard prolonged their lives by 70 days by catching shrimp and sea lice, and distributing them to the starving men. Later they testified that they were confident Brainard never took even his rightful share.
Of the 26 Americans and two Eskimos in the original party, only seven were alive when the U.S. Navy vessel "Thetis" arrived. They had been without food of any kind for 48 hours. Another 48 hours and all would have been lost. On the day they were rescued, when Brainard tried to make another entry in his journal, he was too weak to hold his pencil. Six of the 26 reached home alive.
Two years after his return, in 1886, Brainard was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Second Cavalry by President Cleveland, in recognition of his "distinguished and meritorious services" with the expedition. A notice dated May 12, 1904, announcing the formation of The Explorers' Club, was signed by Gen. A. W. Greeley, Sgt. David L. Brainard, and Donaldson Smith, Gold Medalist of the Royal Geographical Society. Brainard served as the club's fourth president, and later its Honorary President for life. On April 23, 1907, a banquet was held by The Arctic Club at the Marlborough Hotel in New York City, in honor of Colonel David L. Brainard, U.S.A.
David Brainard was successively promoted to higher ranks and on October 2, 1917, was commissioned Brigadier General in the National Army; then July 25, 1918, a Brigadier General, United States Army. He retired July 27, 1918. Brigadier General David L. Brainard, U.S.A., retired, of Washington, D.C. was honored on December 21, 1936, his 80th birthday, by The American Polar Society. Brainard was presented a scroll on which is inscribed a map showing the route taken by Lt. James B. Lockwood and Brainard, which enabled them to reach the then highest point north. The scroll is signed by Paul Siple, the society's president, who accompanied Admiral Byrd on his two Antarctic expeditions. General Brainard died on March 22, 1946, age 89."