Saturday, January 13, 2018

Accounting For The 105 Survivors

An estimated 59 Franklin crewmen can be accounted for by counting all known sites except Terror Bay and Starvation Cove. Including the lower estimates for Terror Bay and Starvation Cove the total comes to 95. Using the higher estimates yields a slightly unrealistic total of 109 considering 105 survivors were stated to be alive at Crozier's Landing on April 25, 1848. 

 The list includes crewmen found by the Inuit, crewmen whom were found by searchers such as Schwatka and those found more recently by archaeologists.

In some cases such as the Todd Islets and Booth Point the number has been inferred from physical findings and eyewitness Inuit accounts.

The numbers for Terror Bay and Starvation Cove are estimates.

Lt John Irving   1
Grave presumed to belong to Lieutenant John Irving of HMS Terror.

Gore Point 1
A crude grave containing a skull was found by Schwatka's expedition. Schwatka's Inuit guide Toolooah identified the skull as belonging to a white man.

Near Point Le Vesconte 1
A partially disinterred skeleton from a grave containing blue cloth and gilt buttons.

4 Miles South of Point Le Vesconte 1
A partially disinterred skeleton from a grave containing a belt buckle and percussion caps.

Erebus Bay Boat Places 23
A total of 23 crewmen were spread out over about 2 miles roughly centered on the archaeological site known as NgLj-2.

Terror Bay 30-to-40 (Estimated)
The site of the Terror Bay camp was wiped clean by the sea sometime between the Hall and Schwatka expeditions. The Inuit indicated a large number of dead were found here. Most were cannibalized by the few remaining survivor(s). 

Tee-Ke-Ta told Hall that the tent was longer than 25-ft. Woodman page 155. Assuming 24-inches per crewman a 30-ft tent would hold 30 crewmen and a 40-ft tent would hold 40 crewmen.

Gladman Point 1
The Peglar/Armitage/Gibson skeleton found by McClintock near Gladman Point.

3 Miles Southeast of Gladman Point 1
A grave containing a skeleton and a few buttons was found by Royal Canadian Rangers during the 1973 Northern Quest Exercise.

Douglas Bay 7 
Gibson found 7 skulls here therefore an absolute minimum of 7 crewmen can be accounted for at this location. The total may be higher.

Setumenin 2 
Two graves were found here by the Inuit. The skeleton of Harry Goodsir (originally misidentified as that of Henry Le Vesconte) was found here and retrieved by Hall. 

Booth Point 2
Inuit found 1 crewman in a grave. Beattie found the remains of 1 cannibalized crewman. It seems unlikely to me that these are the same set of remains.

Todd Islets   7
The Inuit described finding 5 crewmen on Todd Island (Keeuna). An additional 2 crewmen were found on nearby Kookar Island. David Woodman discusses how he arrived at this total on pages 159-to-170.

Islet Near Starvation Cove 7
Neninook reported seven skeletons, partially buried in the sand, on an islet about 5 miles northwest of Starvation Cove. These crewmen had boots with nails driven into the souls like the example found in the 1980s.

Tikeraniyou 3
Located 12 to 15 miles northwest of Starvation Cove and near Thunder Cove

Thunder Cove 1
A skull was found at Thunder Cove in 1926.

Starvation Cove 6-to-10 (Estimate)
Schwatka's expedition was the first to visit Starvation Cove and were told that 6-to-10 crewmen were found there. 
An absolute minimum of 4 men can be accounted for here because Learmonth found 3 mandibles (jaw bones) and 1 "whole skull."

South of Starvation Cove 1
Furthest South known crewman. Found 5 miles South of Starvation Cove by the local Inuit who searched the area during Schwatka's expedition. This individual was not in a grave but lying on the surface.


  1. I've had a stab at similar mathematics and I think roughly agree with your thinking. Once you start to put all the remains and assumptions together, and if you posit that one of the ships was remanned following it's abandonment, you can start to run out of men!

  2. Then there was the skeleton found recently by the expedition of the Royal Canadian Regiment, Operation Northern Quest, on the south coast of KWI about 16 km northwest of Peglar Point. Not to mention the iffy Inuit report of a giant body with long teeth on Erebus.

    1. I remembered that soon after posting this. Andres also pointed out a single skeleton was found near Gore Point so I've added that in as well. I might add the "walrus man" in at some point.

  3. This is very interesting, it is too bad there isn't a map to go with it. Once the hums terror was found things have become more clear. There are probably 4 separate episodes happening in the deaths.
    1) buried bodies are probably people who died before the ship was abandoned or before starvation set in after the abandonment.
    2) Erebus bay is after the abandonment and they were likely caught in a spring storm
    3) boot skeletons were probably died after the ships were reclaimed and dumped on shore without burial with other unneeded items
    4) terror bay was probably the ship sinks by quickly like breadlebane and trapping the remaining without enough supplies and therefore the large number of bodies
    5) the todd island and Adelaide peninsula are probably the remainders of terror bay survivors along with unburied bodies east of terror bay.

    1. Auto correct makes it look like I had a stroke when writing that.

    2. You say 4 stages, but list 5 stages..?
      U seem to be suggesting that the 1848 Victory point abandonment group got as far as erebus Bay, then turned back to the ships & reboarded ? If they saw the weather changing and leads opening in the ice, a decision was made to leave all the weak men in a camp, and use the fittest, youngest men to race back to reboard the boats.
      Erebus Bay, NgLj-2 & 'boat place'; those 23 men were there, alive, for some weeks, slowly eating their dead. And they didn't attempt to walk away. Unless they were so scurvy weak that they couldn't move further than to the nearest cooking pot.? But If the crew were that weak at that point, there should be far more skeletons on the route back to the ships at Vic. Point. Unless those were all eaten.?
      Maybe the erebus Bay campers were promised they would be collected when the reboarded ships came past. So they waited, slowly starving. Maybe some were rescued. Maybe the ship reboarders took so long that they only found dead campers, and Cannibalism. Maybe Crozier had been one of those left at erebus Bay, and died. The shame of the survivors meant they weren't comfortable leaving any cairn notes detailing the fiasco of the 1848 abandonment. Thus no paper records.
      The reboarders took whatever usefully remained at erebus bay, and left the dead and detritus. They then sailed the ships to winter over in Terror bay in 1848/9. But Would they leave an intact boat or 2 at erebus bay? And guns and powder and 20lbs of chocolate? Thats Odd.