Adolphus Greely

Explorer

Born: 27 March 1844
Died: 20 October 1935
Birthplace: Newburyport, Massachusetts
Best known as: U.S. Army Arctic explorer
Adolphus Washington Greely was the first volunteer private in the United States Army to rise to the rank of Major General, and the leader of an Arctic expedition (1881-84) that was tragic but successful. After serving in the Civil War and operating as a communications expert in various wilderness expeditions, Greely was named head of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition. Although the expedition managed to get further north than any previous attempts (83 degrees 24 minutes north latitude), two years passed before the arrival of a relief expedition and 19 of 25 men died. At first Greely was criticized, but he was absolved after an investigation found that he had acted properly. Considered a scientific hero for the meteorological reports he gathered, Greely was also in charge of the construction of thousands of telegraph lines throughout the U.S. and some of its overseas possessions. He also directed the relief operation after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and was a founding member of the National Geographic Society. He died in 1935, less than a year after being awarded the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor.

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