The McClintock Arctic expedition

In 1845 a great British naval expedition was sent to the Arctic with the goal of finding the Northwest Passage, a shorter passage connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific. That expedition had two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, 129 men, and was commanded by Sir John Franklin. Both ships were last seen by whalers in August 1845. By 1847 and during the following years, with no news of the expedition, other ships were sent to try to find them. Lady Franklin purchased a steam yacht, the Fox, and placed command with an Arctic veteran captain, Francis Leopold McClintock, who had been in other earlier Franklin search expeditions. Early in April 1859 they left the ship in small parties to travel overland to King William Island. They found a human skeletons and cairn with two brief notes (dated April 1848) made by officers of Erebus and Terror. The note described the fate of the Franklin expedition - both ships were deserted few days before after being beset in the ice since September 1846 and that 9 officers and 15 men where already dead, by then remaining 105 men. They also announced that the crew were trying to reach the Back River. Illustration created for Desperta Ferro Arqueología e Historia n.º 41 Exploraciones polares