John Franklin: Traveller on Undiscovered Seas (Quest Biography)
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John Franklin explored and charted Canada's arctic seacoast in 1819-1822, 1825-27, and 1845. On the first expedition he nearly starved and on the third he died. None of his men survived the third expedition, but the search for clues to their fate helped open up the North and his celebrated Canadian song and stories.
After the disastrous attack, the Bedford returned to Britain, where she arrived on May 30, 1815. If Franklin was still looking for adventures against the French, he was disappointed. In June, Wellington finally defeated Napoleon at Waterloo and the Napoleonic Wars ended. Franklin would have to seek adventure elsewhere. 4 Towards the North Pole “The piece that had been disengaged at first wholly disappeared under water, and nothing was seen but a violent boiling of the sea and a shooting-up of clouds of spray.
Many of the combined fleet’s ships were bigger, faster, and more heavily gunned than anything the British possessed. The biggest was the extraordinary Spanish flagship, Santissima Trinidad, considered by many to be the most beautiful ship afloat. With four gundecks, she towered over Nelson’s Victory or Franklin’s Bellerophon, and her 136 cannons had the potential to wreak terrible havoc amongst enemy sailors. However, the British had one advantage: they could fire their guns faster and more accurately than the enemy could.
Franklin was distraught by the news and doubted if he could go on. Nevertheless, he was a pragmatist; he did continue, and the following summer he named Port Griffin at the mouth of the Mackenzie River for his dead wife’s beautiful friend Jane. 8 Back to the Canadian Arctic “Not a murmur of discontent was heard throughout the voyage and every individual engaged with alacrity in the laborious tasks he was called up to perform. …” Richardson on his eastern explorations Franklin learned many lessons from the disasters of his first expedition.
Even worse, there were none of the promised supplies. The whole party broke down in tears. Unable to continue or to go back, Franklin and the other survivors managed as best they could. On the evening of October 29, Richardson and Hepburn staggered into the bleak camp. They had a tale of unspeakable horror to tell. Michel had arrived back alone and apparently worked hard to hunt and supply Richardson, Hood, and Hepburn with food. On one occasion he presented them with some wolf meat. But his behaviour became increasingly erratic.
In 1834, a General named Zavellas was suspected of planning to bring his troops in and plunder the city during the celebrations. The governor, his previous argument with Franklin apparently forgotten, requested troops to keep the peace. Franklin’s problem here was that he could not be seen to take sides in a local conflict in an independent country. Nevertheless, the situation appeared serious enough to intervene. A party of 140 British and French seamen went ashore. Franklin issued a proclamation that they had no political purpose and were there only to prevent disorder, and he requested the help of local soldiers and civilians.