Eleven lead musket balls

A group of eleven lead musket balls from the 1845 British Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. A twelfth ball (AAA2124.1) is slightly smaller than the rest of the musket balls.

The musket balls were found by Lieutenant William R. Hobson's sledge team on 3 May 1859 under a small collapsed tent, possibly for the officers, at an abandoned camp site at Cape Felix, King William Island, as part of the search expedition led by Captain F. L. McClintock. Hobson described finding 'a quantity of large shot..' [Stenton, 'Arctic' v.69, No. 4, p. 515]. McClintock never visited Cape Felix, but records 'large shot' being left at the site. [McClintock, 'Voyage of the Fox' (1860), p.369]. The camp site was occupied by about twelve officers and men from the Franklin expedition during the summer of 1847, living in three small tents. They were probably engaged in surveying, scientific work or hunting while the expeditions ships remained trapped in the ice. The site was apparently abandoned in a hurry - Hobson found the tents flattened with blankets and bear skins underneath. He concluded that, as the party had left behind so much of their equipment, they had probably gone back to the ships.

The musket balls were displayed at the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich in Case 3, No. 33 'Musket balls'. The item is also shown in - 'Stereoscopic slides of the relics of Sir John Franklin's Expedition' photographed by Lieutenant Cheyne RN, at the United Services Museum, Whitehall, No. 7 (bottom left in a cloth bag), with the label 'MUSKET BALLS' above.

Object Details

ID: AAA2124
Collection: Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Musket balls
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Unknown
Events: Arctic Exploration: Franklin's Last Expedition, 1845-1848; Arctic Exploration: Franklin Search Expedition, McClintock, 1857-1859
Vessels: Fox (1855)
Date made: Before 1845
People: Hobson, William Robert
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
Measurements: 16 mm
Parts: Eleven lead musket balls

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