Arctic Explorer Mystery
Assembling a Crew
President Grant authorized a naval vessel for Hall's use, and he chose a 387-ton steamer, the Periwinkle, that had done Civil War duty as a gunboat. The ship, renamed the USS Polaris -- after the North Star -- was refitted for ice duty at the Washington Navy Yard as Hall began assembling a crew.
He hired 10 Americans, ranging in rank from the cook to two of the top officers, sailing master Sidney Buddington, a veteran whaling captain from
After a year of preparation, the fully loaded Polaris steamed out of
As part of his contract, Capt. Hall was required to keep a detailed daily journal and to make frequent reports on his whereabouts and progress through letters to George Robeson, secretary of the Navy -- some of which were simply tossed overboard in sealed copper cylinders for retrieval by passing ships.
On August 22, the Polaris prepared to set out for the Arctic after its final
Hall left behind a letter for Robeson:
"The prospects for the expedition are fine; the weather beautiful, clear, and exceptionally warm...The Polaris bids adieu to civilization. God be with us."