In the Lena Delta. A Narrative of the Search for Lieut.-Commander De Long and His Companions Followed by an Account of the Greely Relief Expedition and a Proposed Method of Reaching the North Pole.
In July, 1879, George Melville led an expedition that was supposed to go from San Francisco through the Bearing Strait and on to Wrangel Island, near the Siberian coast. However, the boat they were on, Jeannette, was caught in a pack ice east of Wrangel Island. Being an expert engineer, Melville managed to keep Jeannette afloat for almost two years before it got crushed.
By that time, on June 12, 1881, the crew of the ship managed to escape with most of their equipment. True hell started thereafter. Almost 600 miles separated the crew from the nearest solid ground on the Siberian coast. They had to carry boats over frozen glaciers, or paddle through the cold waters as the winds were cutting through their coats and, even though it was June, the air was freezing cold. The entire trip took two months, when they finally reached the ominous Lena Delta, where they got separated into two groups. One group was led by Melville himself, and they ended up on the western side of the river Lena. The leader of the other group was Lieutenant G. W. DeLong, followed by his party.
They ended up on the eastern side of the river.Tragically, every single member of Lieutenant DeLong’s party died from exposure and starvation, while Melville’s group got rescued. After a short while, Melville sets off to find the remains of DeLong’s group, going through another period of survival in rough Siberian climate, ultimately succeeding at his mission and returning back safely. Along the way, he found DeLong’s journal, in which he wrote regularly unti just a few hours before his death. “In the Lena Delta” follows the story of Melville and DeLong’s expedition, their hardships in the freezing terrain and the climax at the Lena Delta that led to Melville’s rescue and DeLong’s demise.
De Long’s journal was also published as a separate book – “Our Lost Explorers, The Narrative of the Jeannette Arctic Expedition”.