NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

February 3, 2014

A real home-grown hero

Guess what, folks — it’s only three more months till spring, so hang in there, as our weather will improve, now won’t it?

Let’s see, what is there to write about that will draw your attention? Can’t talk about our Patriots, as my column is written before the Super Bowl, so I know what, why not talk a little history about our hometown and how our history repeats itself.

You have probably been reading about the stranded expedition ship stuck in 7 inches of ice in the Arctic, and rescue was made between ice breakers and helicopters. Well, would you believe that the same story was written back in 1881, when a schooner, captained by Adolphus Greely, a Newburyport-born man, who happened to be Army Capt. Greely at that time, and commanded 25 crew members, taking off to a polar expedition in the Arctic for our government but was stranded, not for a couple of weeks, but for three years.

Adolphus (where did that name come from?) was born in Newburyport in 1844, and at the age of 17 joined the Army as a private, fought gallantly in several battles, was wounded and promoted to an officer, ending up as a major general. Following the war, and for some unknown reason, he was given command of a ship and crew, having no seamanship whatsoever. Yes, the ship and crew were stranded and remained in that capacity for nearly three years, with vain attempts to save them.

The captain and crew made attempts to survive, but the bulk of the crew died of many ailments. Finally, they were rescued, how, I’m not sure, and received a hero’s welcome in the States as well as Newburyport. It has been said that the captain and crew were near starvation when saved. It was further documented that Capt. Greely was later attached to the Signal Corps and was responsible for setting up communications in various parts of the world. He later became chief of this division and given and rank of major general, as well as receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor. Gen.Greely spent his later years in Washington and died in 1935. His remains are entombed in the Arlington National Cemetery.

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