An Arctic Execution: Private Charles B. Henry of the United States Lady Franklin Bay Expedition 1881–84


  • Glenn M. Stein



Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, Charles B. Henry, Adolphus Greely, Brainard, Cape Clay, execution, International Polar Year expedition


Private Charles B. Henry, of the United States Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, was put to death by a summary military execution on 6 June 1884, at Camp Clay, near Cape Sabine, Ellesmere Land, in the High Arctic. An execution is an extremely rare event in Arctic and Antarctic history. Shrouded in mystery for over 125 years, Henry’s execution has been told in two contradicting accounts. By considering the actions of key persons, presenting new details, and identifying related artifacts for the first time, the author concludes that the lesser-known account is likely more accurate and that the participants in the execution had their reasons for not sharing the actual version publicly until many years later.