When the Franklin Expedition set off to finds the Northwest Passage, they expected the journey to go off without a hitch. The men leading the expedition were seasoned veterans and nautical men who knew how to carry themselves effectively. It was quite crazy to hear about the absurd decisions and life-threatening actions that took place in many of these men’s final days. To have to bury some of the men so early and dig in to the frozen tundra and gravel must have set a tough precedent for the rest of the journey.
If it were me I would have been terrified of what had happened. Watching these strong men lose an intense amount of weight and eventually succumb to their ailments must be hard to bear for the men that knew them. It seems like maybe such early passings could have set the entire trip up for failure if the men decided that they were about to experience the same fate. We learned that lead coming from either the food or water supply could have poisoned the body and the brains of these men, but perhaps the stress of the voyage and the illness that abounded played a subconscious part as well.
It is hard to truly understand the effect that stress can play on ones body. Some people become a mental wreck and are constantly worried about something happening. It seems like worrying about certain things can even cause a sort of self fulfilling prophecy of sorts. When someone is so caught up in something, sometimes exactly what they fear can come true. Since the origins and consequences of stress are not truly know, it is not out of the question that it could have hurt the seafarer’s minds more than originally thought. This might explain their reasoning for abandoning the ship and making the grand, icey, trip across the tundra, but not so much why they brought all of those supplies with them.
Bringing huge and unwieldy things like that writing desk or other things, you would expect them to be doomed. It is neigh impossible to carry that much weight and still have to deal with making the provisions last long enough to make the long haul to safety. I believe that the lead poisoning probably had the most to do with this, as they were most likely delusional on top of being incredibly worried. Whenever people resort to cannibalism, especially of people that they know and have bonded with, there just has to be something wrong mentally. Maybe the will to survive is that strong, but hopefully we will never have to find out.