- Noted Arctic explorer, he set a contemporary record by reaching 83 deg. 24’ N latitude. The mission ultimately ended in disaster. His command of 25 officers in men at Fort Conger on Ellesmere Island, Canada, successfully made thousands of weather and tide observations from August 1881 to August 1883, and studied samples of local minerals, plants and animals. In 1883 a relief supply ship failed to arrive, so the expedition headed south in a small boats covering 500 miles in 51 days, landing at Bedford Pym Island in Smith Sound on Oct. 15. They faced 250 days of winter with rations for 40 days and were eventually reduced to eating their own leather clothing. Only Greeley and 6 others survived.
His later career included laying communications lines in the Philippines, Alaska and elsewhere. In 1887 he was promoted to Chief Signal Officer (which put him in charge of the organization that would later become the National Weather Service) and brigader general.
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