National Geographic : 1897 Jun
GEORGE W. MELVILLE cally indispensable-when the Jeannettesank five hundred miles from the Lena Delta. Lieutenant Danenhower being disabled and Lieutenant Chipp sick, De Long's main dependence was in his chief engineer, Mel ville, who was well, strong, energetic, and fertile in resources. It is unnecessary to dwell on the dangers and hardships which this unprecedented journey entailed on the members of this party, which were met with fortitude, courage, and energy that made its successful issue one of the most notable efforts in the history of man, overcoming obstacles almost insurmountable. It is only to be said that in this fearful journey for life Melville, as the right arm of De Long, was full of energy and expedients. Such was De Long's confidence in Melville, that, when the three boats left Bennet island, De Long placed the whale-boat entirely under his orders, although Danenhower was placed therein. This unusual step was fully justified by the events, as Melville's boat's crew was the only one that was saved, Chipp perishing at sea and De Long in the Lena Delta. When De Long's des perate condition became known, it was Melville's heroic spirit and personal daring that ventured the unsuccessful autumnal search and later, in the brighter but more fearful polar spring, discovered the remnant of De Long's unselfish crew and secured for them a Christian burial. Congress, in 1890, promoted him fifteen numbers "as a recognition of his meritorious services in successfully directing the party under his command after the wreck of the Arctic exploring steamer Jeannette, and of his per sistent efforts, through dangers and hardships, to find and assist his commanding officer and other members of the expedition before he himself was out of peril." In 1883 Melville volunteered to lead a relief party for the res cue of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, which had that autumn retreated under orders to Cape Sabine, and when the government rejected a proposition, the heroic Melville sailed in the expedition of 1884 commanded by Captain Schley, and was one of the first officers to reach the living remnant of the expe dition, and thus closed with credit his service afloat. Selected in 1887 as Chief Engineer of the Navy with the rela tive rank of Commodore, he has discharged the important duties of this office with such professional fitness and administrative ability as to merit universal praise. During this period the United States Navy has been substantially reorganized and with a degree of success that has enlisted the admiration of the world.