Historic Expeditions by Henry Hudson, the Corte-Real brothers, Douglas Mawson, Charles Francis Hall That Failed Terribly

Fareeha Arshad

Henry HudsonWikimedia Commons

Historic expeditions have always been unpredictable and dangerous, regardless of how noble the intentions were. History bears witness that there were several such successful events. Unfortunately, there were others that had horrific outcomes — not just for the civilians but also for the people who led those expeditions. Let’s look at some of such expeditions from the past that failed terribly.

1. Henry Hudson

In 1610, Henry Hudson decided to try his luck in the Northwest Passage. During his sea voyage towards Hudson Bay, his ship got stuck in a big block of ice because of winter. He waited until the spring to pursue his goal to discover the route to Asia. He took several other crew members on this expedition.

However, Hudson’s crew members were against this idea and planned a mutiny against their leader. They steered Hudson and his companions in the wrong direction and sailed back to England. By the time Hudson realized the revolt, his boat was far behind and helpless. Hudson and his loyal crew members were never seen again while five of the thirteen rebels died on their way back.

2. The Corte-Real brothers

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The story of the Corte-Real is closely similar to that of Hudson’s. The two brothers, Portuguese Gasper and Miguel Corte-Real planned to follow the Northwest Passage to reach Asia in 1500. However, instead of Asia, they reached Greenland, so they returned home to start their journey again.

After a year, the two brothers set out again to find Asia but again reached Greenland. This time, instead of returning, they steered towards another direction and discovered ‘Newfoundland’. There, they enslaved more than fifty people and started their journey back to Portugal along with them. However, they never got the opportunity to reach back home. The two brothers disappeared and were never heard from again.

3. Douglas Mawson

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In 1911, Douglas Mawson set out to explore Antarctica and a couple of his friends, Xavier Mertz and Belgrave Ninnis. What was planned to be the journey of their lifetimes turned out to be their worst mistake.

Once they set out on their most awaited journey, the travel companion Ninnis did not last long. Then, unfortunately, Ninnis fell through a snow-covered crevasse, taking their tents and food along with him. After losing their rations, the remaining duo started retracing their steps back toward home.

They started feeding on sledge dogs because they had nothing left to eat. Little did they know that their liver contains unusually high levels of vitamin A. Because of this, Mertz started showing bizarre signs of physical and mental health decline, and by 1913 he too passed away, leaving Mawson alone to carry out the remaining sixty miles journey. Mawson finally reached the land — just barely alive.

4. Charles Francis Hall

Charles Francis Hall was known for his search expedition to find John Franklin and his crew members. He led an expedition in 1871 to become the first person to reach the North Pole. He set off from New York along with his crew members, and by the time they reached Greenland, winter had already set in. So they stopped there for a few months, during which the tensions between Hall and his crew members escalated, especially with the surgeon Emil Bessels.

The following year Hall fell critically ill and blamed Bessels for his condition. He repeatedly told that he was poisoned by the surgeon and did not survive for long. Yet, even after losing their captain, Hall, the crew members continued their journey toward the North Pole.

Much later, in 1968, another expedition revealed that Hall was actually poisoned, and his remains showed signs of arsenic poisoning. So perhaps, Hall was not delusional after all.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I write about current affairs, history, science, and lifestyle.

Texas State

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