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Cannibalism among Whits Men

THE GREELY ARCTIC EXPEDITION. STARTLING REVELATIONS. New York, September 1. The New York Times, of the 9th August, created a profound sensation by publishing a luujj account, goin^ to show th it the survivors of the Greely Arctic Expedition sustained life by cannibalism of their dead companions, and that the grave fonnd by Lieut. Seeley contained only cleanly picked bones. The horrible state of things brought to light, according to the Times, is as follows: When the rescuing party discovered the halfstarved survivors, their first duties were t> look after two men who were insensible from cold and privation, even to the point «f death. One of them (Gorman) was wild in his delirium. "Oh I" he shrieked, as the sailors took hold to lift him tenderly, " don't let them shoot me, as they did poor Henry. Must I be killed and eaten as Henry was ? Don't let them do it— don't— don't." Heury, it appears, was young Gorman, who, driven wild with hunger, sought to steal a little more than his rations, and, beiug found out, j was shot, and his companions stripped hh flesh from his bones in their hunger, and then ate his heart and lungs. Fragments of human flesh were also used for shrimp bait. The officials put in a general denial of the Times narrative, but otherwise maintained reticence, and refused to investigate. There is a general impression that the paper's statement is substantially true. On the 16th August the Times gave the following additional particulars :— Uutil the death of Surgeon Pavy, of the Greely party, three weeks before the rescue, the flesh cut from most of the dead bodies for use by the survivors as food and bait was removed by a hand skilled in dissection. A few of the bodies had the fleshy portions cut away entirely, but with the majority the work had been so well done that a casual observer would not have suspected without other evidence, of which there was plenty, however, that the survivors had been reduced to cannibalism, and had been for a long time subsisting principally on the bodies of dead companions. It is not coincident that Surgeon Pavy, with those of two others who died after him, should have been reported as washed away. With the Surgeon gone, the scalpel could not be used as before, when the bodies had been left with but little marks of the terrible work done. After his death the survivors were forced to dismember the bodies and denude them of flesh in a way that loft nothing but bones, so these unfortunates were reported as buried in an ice-floe and washed away. On most of the bodies an incision was made from a clavicle downwards below the ribs. The scalpel was then passed along under the skin, and the flap was carefully laid back on either side. The flesh was then removed from the ribs, the skin was peeled back iuto its place, and the edges were carefully pointed, so that there was no external evidenoe left of the ghastly work. The dark lines in the thighs were treated in the same manner, the skin being replaced about the fleshless joints. The legs were stripped to the ankle jofnts, and the arms to the wrists ; bat the hands, feet or face were not mutilated. This was a work requiring skill, and must have been a long and careful operation. No one in the party except Surgeon Pavy could so skilfully remove the flesh from a human body and leave the skin intact. How Pavy met his death has not been explained, but the skilful knife with him was gpne, and every day the pangs of hunger growing more unbearable, caution was relaxed, and the survivors ate of human flesh, however they could best secure it. In the lasb few days before relief came to the wretched men it was the doctrine of survival of the strongest that ruled them, all sense of honor or feeling having been lost. It was John Long who first saw the steam launch, and he slid down upon the snow and ice from the distross signal to meet the rescuing party. His face and beard were covered with blood from a bird which he had shot and been eating. It . is stated that he stopped to conceal half of the body of the bird before sliding down upon the snow. He was the strongest of the party, and, despite a frightful gale, was able to walk to the launch. Sergeant Fredericks also had considerable strength left, and clambered on board the Theris almost unaided. After so many months in desolate arctic regions, after so much suffering, and passing through such scenes of horror, it was Beldom that the men stood upright, I they crawled about on their hands and knees on rooks and ice, and when Sergeant Bramers was undressed on board the Theris his knees were found calloused to the thickness of over half an inch. In the midst of such horrors it was wondered by the rescuing party how Lieut. Greeley and his few companions had kept their reason. About the camp were scattered tho bones of the dead, and the dissected and mutilated bodies were half exposed in a lit^e burial plot at the back of the tent. It was a scene at which the rescuers Bhuddered, as they looked at the bodies of those who died and were not mutilated, where death had been caused by disease. As to how many died by scurvy, accounts differ. Lieutenant Seeley reports 17 as having died of scurvy. Sergeant] Cross was the first one of the exploring party to die. He passed away last New Year's Day. According to Seeley's oeport, he did not die of scurvy, but from the use of liquor. He would drink anything that had the suspicion of alcohol about it — even paint. This love for liquor was so strong among some of the sailtra of the relie.f party that the carpenter, who used a little bottle of alcohol with which to mix ahellack, was obliged to guard it as closely as his money. Sergt. Connelly, one of the rescued, says that Cross died of scurvy on the 18th January, at St. John's. It is reported that one of the two men lost on the 19th April died of scurvy. Several died of scurvy after, but Henry was shot. All did not die of starvation. Itstead, it is feared that others met their deaths as Henry did. It is known that court-martials were of frequent occurrence in the Greely oamp. Surgeon Pavy was ou trial no less than three times. There were dissensions among the men, and as their condition became more desperate their quarrels increased, but, though weakened in body and mind by privation, each did all he could for the other. However, at last, the struggle for life became single. It was each man for himself.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/PBH18840923.2.13

Bibliographic details

Poverty Bay Herald, Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XI, Issue 4098, 23 September 1884

Word Count
1,162

Cannibalism among Whits Men Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XI, Issue 4098, 23 September 1884

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