George Melville, US explorer

George Melville, US explorer

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Credit: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: George Wallace Melville (1841-1912), US explorer. Melville joined the US Navy in 1861, serving in the US Civil War (1861-1865) on the Union side. He is most famous for his Arctic exploits. In 1879 he was engineer on an expedition that attempted to pass from the Pacific to the Atlantic by passing North of Siberia. The expedition ship, the Jeanette, was trapped for two years in the Arctic ice, and was finally crushed and sank in 1881. Melville commanded the only one of the small boats to reach land safely, and then returned to salvage the expedition records. Melville also oversaw many advances in US Navy technology.

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