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 David Legge Brainard

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David Legge Brainard

  • Birth 21 Dec 1856 Norway, Herkimer County, New York, USA
  • Death 23 Mar 1946 Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
  • Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
  • Plot Section 2, Lot 955
  • Memorial ID 5849304

United States Army Officer, Explorer. He was born in Norway, New York. On September 18, 1876, he enlisted in the United States Army, and was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry, stationed at Fort Ellis, Montana. He saw action in the Indian campaigns under General Nelson Miles. He was wounded in the face while fighting the Sioux at Muddy Creek, Montana, on May, 7, 1877. In August of 1878, he was one of the four men selected to escort General William T. Sherman and others in Sherman's tour through the National Park. In July 1879, he was promoted Sergeant and in May 1880, he was recommended as a member on the Howgate polar expedition. The expedition was abandoned and he returned to his regiment. Early in the spring of the following year he was again ordered to Washington and made First Sergeant (chief of the enlisted men) of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition under Lieutenant Adolphus W. Greely. He served in this post during three years of Arctic service, being in command of many important boat and sledge expeditions. He was associated with Lieutenant James B. Lockwood in all the important geographical work, and was one of the three who, on May 15, 1882, attained the highest northern point on the globe ever reached by man. The party desperately waited for the arrival of the Proteus, which was an ironclad whaler that had drop the party off to its encampment the previous year, and was now scheduled to bring much needed supplies to the starving party. In the mean time, he fished for shrimps, and prolonged the lives of the party for about seventy days. It was later learned that the Proteus had sunk in the Arctic waters on its journey to meet the party. Trapped in the Arctic for another winter, food was rationed in the hope that a second vessel would soon arrive. That ship too never showed and the men were forced to abandoned their camp. In the end after much hardship in which they had to eat their own boots and remnants of their seal skin clothing to stay alive, the party was rescued on June 23, 1884, by the ship Thetis under the command of Winfield Scott Schley. He and the rest of the expedition returned to a somber but happy welcome in the United States. For his survival efforts, he received from the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain, a testimonial consisting of an elegant gold watch, with accompanying diploma. He chose to make the United States Army his career. When he retired at the rank of Brigadier General, he was famous world wide as the only living man whose foot had trod the highest point in the mysterious Arctic circle.

Bio by: Ugaalltheway


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 16 Oct 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5849304
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for David Legge Brainard (21 Dec 1856–23 Mar 1946), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5849304, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .