The Beechey Island Graves

Shortly after the Franklin Expedition of 1845 set out to find the long sought Northwest Passage, the two ships stopped at Beechey Island. It was here that they spent the winter of 1845, not sailing from their temporary home again until Spring of 1846. During this time, however, three men perished.

Buried near the shore, Able Seaman John Hartnell, Petty Officer John Torrington, and Royal Marine William Braine were the first casualties of the Franklin Expedition. Their remains have since been exhumed, studied for answers, and reburied. Cause of death for the men were found to be pneumonia, undernourishment, zinc deficiency, and tuberculosis. Lead poisoning was also discovered, but it seemed to be only an accelerator of other symptoms leading to death instead of the main cause.

A fourth grave stands with the men, that of Thomas Morgan. He died on one of the many expeditions that set out to locate Franklin's men. 

These graves still stand to this day.

Franklin Expedition Beechey Island
The Autopsy of Thomas Hartnell

Upon exhumation, scientists discovered that the extreme cold of the Arctic had kept the bodies almost perfectly preserved and mummified. When they studied the body of Thomas Hartnell, however, they found he had already been autopsied.

It is thought that Harry Goodsir, the assistant surgeon aboard HMS Erebus, was the one who performed Hartnell's autopsy. He studied this craft with his father, John Goodsir.

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