Summary

A career Army officer and leader of an ill-fated arctic expedition who was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor.

Conflict Period:
Other Service 1
Branch:
Army 1
Rank:
Major General 1
Birth:
27 Mar 1844 2
Newburyport, Massachusetts 3
Death:
20 Oct 1935 3
Washington, D.C. 3
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Adolphus Washington Greely 2
Full Name:
Adolphus W Greely 1
Birth:
27 Mar 1844 2
Newburyport, Massachusetts 2
Male 2
Birth:
Massachusetts 1
Death:
20 Oct 1935 2
Washington, D.C. 2
Burial:
Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia 2
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Marriage:
Henrietta Greely 3
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Other Service 1

Branch:
Army 1
Rank:
Major General 1
Service Start Date:
1861 2
Service End Date:
1908 2
Enlistment Location:
Louisiana 1

Civil War (Union) 2

Branch:
Army 2
Rank:
Captain (1865) 2
Unit:
81st United States Colored Infantry 2
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Employment:
Employer: Greely Expedition 4
Position: Commander 4
Place: Arctic 4
Start Date: 1881 4
End Date: 1884 4

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Stories

For his life of splendid public service, begun on 27 March 1844, having enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army on 26 July 1861, and by successive promotions was commissioned as major general 10 February 1906, and retired by operation of law on his 64th birthday.

The Greely Expedition

Arctic

From 1881 to 1884 Greely led a military polar expedition to the arctic to collect scientific data. The first year went as planned, but the following summer, supply ships failed to arrive. When supply ships didn’t come the next summer either, Greely followed pre-existing orders to take the men in small boats to a location where they could be reached more easily. After more than a month and a half at sea fighting ice, the men finally reached land, barren though it was. The men wintered there, but supplies ran out and most of the 24 men died from starvation and hypothermia. Eventually, three years after the expedition originally set out, the 7 remaining men, including Greely, were rescued, though accusations of cannibalism later tarnished the reputation of the expedition. 

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