Modern history


Homeward Bound

AFTER MORE THAN THREE YEARS at sea, Wilkes was finding it difficult to conceive of a reality beyond the taut discipline of the four vessels under his command. From his perspective, the Expedition was already an unqualified triumph. Having successfully neutralized a possible French threat, he could now claim to have discovered a new continent. Although his survey of Fiji had come at a terrible price, it would surely be recognized as a wondrous and valuable achievement. His climb up Mauna Loa was the stuff of legend, but, as he well knew, what the American people would be most interested in were his surveys of the Pacific Northwest and California.

The nation that had once looked to the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains as its natural western boundaries was becoming increasingly convinced that its dominion should extend all the way to the Pacific. A group of American settlers had arrived in Oregon in 1841; by the spring of 1842 another group would be headed west. What the American people wanted more than anything else was information about this new, untapped territory, and no one currently possessed more charts, maps, sketches, and detailed writings about the west coast of North America than the commander of the Ex. Ex. This, he decided, would be his trump card. If, for some reason, the naval and political leaders in Washington, D.C., refused to provide him with the accolades he deserved, he would withhold “this desired information until I see how they are about to reward me.” It was extortion, pure and simple, not to mention a shocking and unlawful abuse of his government’s trust, but this was how the egocentric mind of Charles Wilkes worked. Warning Jane that his plan was “entre nous,” he asserted that “there is nothing like having the whip in my own hands.”

In Honolulu, where the squadron stopped briefly for provisions and repairs before continuing on to Manila, Singapore, and eventually home, Wilkes received unsettling indications that his control over the Expedition’s legacy was not as total as he had assumed. His archenemy John Aulick, captain of the USS Yorktown, had just left Honolulu ten days before. According to Aulick, it was widely reported back in the United States that Wilkes had lost his grip on both the Expedition and himself. Fearing that Wilkes had gone “crazy,” a friend of Aulick’s even called on Jane “to ask if such was not the fact.” For Wilkes this was distressing and humiliating news, but it got worse.

In New Zealand, Aulick encountered the British explorer James Ross, just back from his own southern cruise. With a copy of Wilkes’s chart spread out before them, Ross had asserted that his two ships had sailed over an area where the Americans had claimed there was land. Heading east, Ross had sailed into what is known today as the Ross Sea, eventually establishing a new southern record of 78°04’. Instead of a continent, Ross believed that Antarctica was made up of a group of islands and attributed the Americans’ claims to their lack of experience with “the delusive appearances in these icy regions.” These were damaging, if not crippling, claims, especially coming from the acknowledged master of high-latitude exploration. But to have Aulick, an officer of the U.S. Navy, taking such obvious pleasure in undercutting the achievements of a fellow American was truly reprehensible.

Wilkes had originally planned to sell the Flying Fish in Hawaii. But realizing that the schooner would aid in the survey of the reef-strewn Sulu Sea between the Philippines and Malaysia, he decided to retain her services—much to the distress of William Reynolds, who along with Samuel Knox had grown weary of sailing in the open sea in such a small craft. “[W]ith the sweet & calm resignation that has become our distinguished characteristic,” Reynolds sarcastically wrote, they began laying in stores for the more than five-thousand-mile voyage to Manila, where they were to meet up with the Vincennes. The two brigs, the Porpoise and the newly acquired replacement for the Peacock, the Oregon, were to investigate the currents to the east of Japan, then sail through the China Sea to Singapore at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Once the entire squadron had rendezvoused at Singapore that winter, they would sail for home. Wilkes had solemnly pledged that they would arrive at the navy yard in New York no later than May 31, 1842.

As far as Reynolds was concerned, the work of the Expedition was finished; all that remained was a long, dull sail home, and he had assured his family that they now had nothing to worry about when it came to his safety. But in January, just a few days from Manila, Reynolds came as close as he would ever come to perishing at sea.

Knox, the schooner’s commanding officer, insisted that the current would slacken as they approached Manila, allowing them to steer directly for the port without fear of being swept ashore. Although Reynolds objected strongly to the proposal, Knox, the son of a Boston harbor pilot, insisted that he was right. At 11:30 that night, as both Reynolds and Knox slept in their bunks, leaving the watch to Passed Midshipman Joseph Sanford, the lookout saw breakers off the bow. Reynolds bounded to the deck in his nightshirt. “The sight was frightful,” he wrote, “and at the first glance, it seemed impossible we should be saved. The night was very dark, yet we could see the land & the horrible breakers, oh! so close. . . . The wind fairly howled in its violence, and the swell was enormously high, increased twofold by the shoalness of the water, for now, we were in the rollers & could see the bottom. It was do or die, and most likely would do and die.”

If they were to drive the schooner through the waves, they needed more sail. Even though she was already staggering under the lone foresail, they raised the mainsail and jib. “The masts switched like willows,” Reynolds wrote, “and the water came over the bows, just as it falls over a mill dam,ashore, in torrents. . . . Had she not been the most glorious model of a sea boat that ever was built, she could not have borne this sail an instant, but she was true as gold.” Once they reached the safety of Manila, Reynolds realized that this incident had frightened him more than even the near-loss of the Peacock in Antarctica. “Roused out of a sleep, to be drowned in five minutes, without hope, is rather appalling to any man . . . ,” he reflected. “Death cannot be worse than the fright, for the abandonment of hope is death itself.” The incident off the Philippines so troubled him that it would be one of the few events of the Expedition that he could not bring himself to describe in a letter to his family.

For Reynolds, Manila stood as the symbol of a fallen empire. A once-prosperous Spanish port, whose gold-laden galleons had annually voyaged across the Pacific to and from Acapulco, the Philippine capital had fallen into neglect with the waning of Spain’s global influence. The port’s decline, however, had done nothing to lessen the beauty of its women. Reynolds and his fellow officers could not help but gawk at the young ladies they saw passing on the streets. He found himself irresistibly edging toward a resolution: “I am almost tempted to make & record a vow, ‘never to wander again unless Mrs. Reynolds sails in company. ’”

On January 21, the Vincennes and the Flying Fish weighed anchor. As she straggled behind the flagship, the schooner passed a merchant vessel, just four months out of Boston, whose captain offered a pile of newspapers. Reynolds was making his leisurely way through one of the papers when he came upon the latest list of navy promotions. Since he felt he was, at the very least, three years away from a promotion, he began to examine the list with only the mildest interest—until he found his name among the lieutenants. “I was confounded,” he wrote. “Joy and surprise made me dumb! I had not had even the shadow of a hope for such good fortune. . . . Yet here, I had made a Lieut, more than a month ago! I screamed the glorious news aloud, but the utterance nearly choked me. I never felt so proud or happy in all my life.”

Making Reynolds’s elation all the sweeter was that Wilkes’s name was not on the list. He took out a pen and ink, drew a thick black line around the pertinent paragraph, and folded the paper so that the page remained in full view. Then he sent the paper to Wilkes aboard the Vincennes.

The crew of the Flying Fish arrived in Singapore to discover that the two brigs had preceded them by three weeks but that the Vincennes, which had failed to meet them at two prearranged rendezvous points, had not yet arrived. Reynolds and his companions were delighted to have the opportunity to explore this busy, cosmopolitan port, where merchant vessels from no fewer than twenty-four “Asiatic nations,” including the “Chinese, Hindoos, Malays, Jews, Armenians, [and] Parsees” mixed with vessels from Europe and America.

The Vincennes followed just a few days later. Wilkes was in a “great uproar,” claiming that the Flying Fish had failed to meet him at a third rendezvous point. Both Knox and Reynolds were mystified since their written orders only mentioned two points of rendezvous. Instead of speaking directly with Knox, who was one of his most faithful officers, Wilkes angrily ordered a court of inquiry to investigate the actions of the Flying Fish’s commander. The court, comprising Ringgold, Carr, and Alden, with Emmons acting as the judge advocate, would exonerate Knox, but the breach between Wilkes and his officers was now complete. “This act of [Wilkes’s],” Reynolds wrote, “was as black a deed as any that have disgraced him during the cruise.”

It was also the act of a man who had just received dreadful news from home. In Singapore Wilkes found forty-two letters waiting for him from Jane. The latest was dated July 15, 1841—a month later than any other letter received in the squadron; for once, Wilkes had the freshest news from the United States. Jane reported that a large number of objects from the Ex. Ex. had already arrived in Washington and that a geologist with no familiarity with the Expedition’s aims had been allowed to ransack the collections. Wilkes and the scientific corps had been assured that the crates would remain untouched until their return. “They have broken their faith and in all probability ruined half our results,” he wrote.

The news concerning his promotion was also not good. Jane had even dared to question the wisdom of his having flown the pennant of a commodore. “[P]ray, how can you join sides against me . . . ,” he demanded. “I feel proud of having borne [the pennant] with triumphant sweep the world over. . . . My only fault was I did not hoist it the moment I left [Norfolk].” It infuriated Wilkes to know that while he received only criticism from his nation’s leaders—not to mention his wife—the commanders of competing European expeditions had already received their just rewards. He had heard that d’Urville had been promoted to admiral on his return to France; similar honors had been promised to Ross, while his official standing had, if anything, lessened since leaving Norfolk. With the return of the Expedition’s disgruntled officers to the United States, the secretary of the navy, who had formerly addressed him as a lieutenant commandant, now referred to him simply as Lieutenant Wilkes. “I serve a glorious country,” he wrote Jane, “but an administration the shabbiest on Earth.” In desperation, he urged Jane to speak to her “influential friends” concerning his promotion.

But the most disturbing news from his home on Capitol Hill was of a more personal nature. Wilkes’s sister Eliza, Jane reported, was not doing well. As was to be expected, word of her son’s death had been a devastating blow. Wilkes had sent her a miniature of Wilkes Henry from Honolulu, but he had not been able to bring himself to write her about the boy’s passing, and he worried what her reaction to him would be when he saw her for the first time since the tragedy. Wilkes’s brother Henry offered some comfort, writing that Eliza was “gradually reviving from the deplorable loss.” “God bless you my dear C.,” he continued. “May the wound you have received experience the healing effect of time before this [letter] comes to hand. And may you also have the good fortune to find someone who will in some degree supply the place of dear W.”

But for Wilkes, there would be no possibility of compensation. For the last three years he had been looking forward to the day when he would be reunited with Jane and their four children. In Singapore, he learned that at least one of them would not be there when he returned. His eldest son Jack, just fourteen, had decided that he wanted to follow in his absent father’s footsteps; with Jane’s permission, he had secured a midshipman’s appointment and would soon be on his way to Brazil. For Wilkes, who had come to see the navy as a thankless, even malicious employer, it was terrible news. “You cannot look upon this as I do . . . ,” he wrote. “I could write you much more my dear dear Jane upon this subject, but it would give you pain and me too. . . . I cannot [conceal] from you it has given me great pain.”

At Singapore, the Expedition lost one of its most trusted and stalwart members: the Flying Fish. A survey determined that the schooner was suffering from structural problems that made a passage around the Cape of Good Hope a dangerous proposition, and no one wanted the beloved schooner to follow the Sea Gull to the bottom of the ocean. Since Knox was preoccupied with Wilkes’s court of inquiry, Reynolds was left with supervising the transfer of the vessel to her new owner—an Englishman who claimed she would make a “beautiful yacht” but who secretly planned to use her, it was rumored, as an opium smuggler. After cleaning her out, Reynolds lowered the American ensign from the Flying Fish’s masthead. “I had the same sort of regard for her that a man must entertain for a gallant horse that has carried him safely through the fight, & I almost repented that the poor old craft had been so rudely bartered away.”

On February 26, the squadron weighed anchor and began to thread its way through the mass of Chinese junks thronging the waters of Singapore. From the maintop of the Vincennes, Charlie Erskine caught a final glimpse of the Flying Fish: “As we passed her with a strange commander and crew on board, and a foreign flag at her mast-head floating to the balmy breeze, every bosom was filled with sadness.” Of the original six-vessel squadron, only the Vincennes and the Porpoise were now left; of the original 346 men, a little over half remained, with the losses to desertion, death, and dismissal having been made up by recruitments in Sydney, Honolulu, and other ports. By the end of the voyage, a total of 524 men would have served on the Ex. Ex.

The crew of the Flying Fish was dispersed among the Vincennes, the Porpoise, and the Oregon, which was now commanded by Wilkes’s former first lieutenant Overton Carr. Much to his relief, Reynolds had been reassigned to the Porpoise. “I should have got the Hydrophobia on board the Vincennes, with C. W.,” he wrote. Not until March 1 did Wilkes officially recognize Reynolds’s promotion. He also issued orders to the commanders of the Porpoise and the Oregon. While the Vincennes sailed directly for New York, with brief stops at Cape Town and the island of St. Helena, the two brigs were to take a three-thousand-mile detour to Rio de Janeiro, where they were to perform some trivial observations and pick up a small number of additional specimens. Reynolds branded this “a diabolical arrangement.” Just as he had done prior to the squadron’s final assault on Antarctica, Wilkes had scripted it so that his flagship would be the first on the scene. After a voyage of almost four years, Reynolds and his compatriots would be forced to arrive in New York at least a month after the Vincennes. “[ W ]e never shall be reconciled to it,” he wrote. “[A] disagreeable remembrance of it will haunt me for ever, along with the feeling of hatred which I shall cherish for its author.”

But for Charlie Erskine and his fellow sailors aboard the Vincennes, these were happy times. “All life and gayety on board,” he wrote, “and bright visions of home were before us. The weather was fine, the wind fair, and our gallant ship had all the sail on her that she could possibly carry. She made thirteen and a half knots for five days in succession.” One afternoon Charlie noticed that three older seamen were enjoying a nap on the deck and using Wilkes’s dog Sydney as a pillow. “I hunted up a bone and placed it about a foot from the dog’s nose,” he wrote. “As soon as Sydney got a smell of the bone he suddenly sprang up, and the sleepers’ heads came down on deck with a thump. . . . [ I ]f they had known who the culprit was, I verily believe they would have thrown me overboard.” But if life aboard the Vincennes was now better than it had ever been, Charlie would never forget the shocking brutality that had become commonplace under Wilkes’s command. “I had seen as good men as ever trod a ship’s deck, lashed to the rigging—made spread eagles of—and flogged.” He resolved that he would never again sail on a naval vessel. “I had had enough of the navy during [the last four years] to last me a lifetime.”

On March 2, tragedy struck the Vincennes. George Porter, the same sailor who had narrowly escaped death three and a half years ago when a rope wrapped around his neck, succumbed to a fever he had caught in Singapore. “He belonged in Bangor, Maine,” Charlie remembered, “and how eagerly he looked forward to going home and seeing all the loved ones there! Poor George!”

Three weeks later, Benjamin Vanderford, the Salem bêche-de-mer captain who had served as the Expedition’s pilot and interpreter in Fiji, also fell ill. Always a heavy drinker, he began to hallucinate, and after falling into horrifying convulsions, he quickly lost consciousness and died. For Veidovi, the Fijian chief, it was a shattering loss. Vanderford had promised to serve as his protector once they reached the United States. Veidovi retreated to his berth and from that day forward showed a “total disregard of everything that passed around him.”

Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., Robert Pinkney, the latest officer to return from the Expedition under arrest, had recently arrived in town, and the newly appointed secretary of the navy Abel Upshur was shocked by the lieutenant’s account of a commander who proudly insisted that he was above the law. In his annual address Upshur had vowed to do everything he could to stop abuses on the part of the service’s superior officers. Wilkes sounded like just the kind of commander who needed to be made an example of. (That he was the leader of an expedition mounted by Jacksonian Democrats only encouraged Upshur, who was part of John Tyler’s Whig administration.) Given the seriousness of Pinkney’s accusations, Upshur decided that he could not put Wilkes on the promotion list for that spring.

In March, Jane Wilkes received a letter from Dr. John S. Wily, a family friend and former navy surgeon. “You have no time to lose,” Wily urged. “Should your husband be left out of the new batch [of promotions], he is irretrievably injured. Take no denial. The principle on which the Secretary is acting is totally subversive of naval discipline and legally wrong. A man is innocent till found guilty, but here we see a death blow given to an officer when absent on duty by a discontented subaltern, whose charges may be trivial, malicious, or unfounded, and against which he has no means of defending himself. . . . Go to Senators, as many as possible. Say if Charles is to be tried, let him be tried; but not condemned now which is virtually the case. . . . I would almost rather he was dead, than so shamefully dishonored.”

Jane would do exactly as Wily suggested, even writing a memorandum in which she detailed her efforts on her husband’s behalf. Twice Jane visited Secretary Upshur. By the second visit, Upshur had had enough of Jane’s passionate advocacy and told her, she later wrote, that “if I urged the matter any further I should ruin my husband.” Jane responded with a letter of apology for her “too urgent appeal,” stating, “I therefore will wait patiently until the decision of his peers shall (as it most assuredly will) restore my husband to his full standing in the service to which his whole life has been devoted.”

Back aboard the Vincennes, Wilkes was doing everything he could to return to the United States as quickly as possible. Although it looked as if he would not make the May 31 deadline, he still had hopes of returning before the Senate adjourned for the summer. “I shall push hard to get home . . . ,” he had written Jane from Singapore, “and I am in hopes [Congress] will sit late.”

During a brief stop at Cape Town, Wilkes visited the observatory made famous by the astronomer Sir John Herschel. Here he came across a new British chart that showed the tracks of Ross’s and d’Urville’s voyages to Antarctica but made no reference to his own. Still worse, it was clear to Wilkes that Ross had used information from the chart he had sent him. “[T]he truth will come out one of these days,” he insisted in his journal. After another quick stop at St. Helena, where the officers dutifully visited the home where Napoleon had spent his last days in exile, they were off for the final sprint to New York.

On May 16 Wilkes issued a general order requiring that a committee composed of Hudson, Emmons, and the naturalist Charles Pickering collect from each and every officer “all Journals, rough notes, writings, memorandums, drawings, sketches, paintings, as well as all specimens of every kind collected or prepared since leaving the United States.” Even though this had been the policy from the very beginning, it was not a popular order. To have spent four years of one’s life on a voyage round the world and to have nothing left to show for it seemed unnecessarily harsh, especially since there was already more than enough material in the Expedition’s collections. Emmons possessed a Fijian bow and arrow that had been taken during the bloody boat fight off Malolo. “But here they go,” he wrote bitterly, “and if the Government wants them I have not another word to say.” Adding to the resentment of Emmons and others was the rumor that Wilkes was harboring an extensive collection of his own in a cabinet given to him by the consul in Singapore.

As the officers reluctantly turned over their specimens and artifacts, the gun deck of the Vincennes became crowded with crates and boxes. Reynolds’s volatile friend William May, whom Wilkes had recently named master of the ship, was loath to give up a box of shells he had procured at Fiji after the Vincennes’s purser had declined to buy it. On the top of the box, May wrote out “Purchased at Public Sale after the Comdr of the Ex. Ex. had refused them.” When Wilkes saw the box, he immediately assumed May was attempting to mock his order. He called May into his cabin and demanded that he remove the words from the top of the box. May responded that “he would do no such thing,” and Wilkes ordered him to leave the cabin and consider himself under suspension. Even though Wilkes had made attempts to mend fences with May (just as he’d done with Reynolds at the Columbia River), he now determined to draw up formal charges against the passed midshipman.

As the month of June approached, Wilkes’s tension level was reaching an almost unbearable pitch, and he pushed his ship and his men as hard as he had at any point during the voyage. Despite near gale-force winds, he insisted that no sails should be shortened without his approval. On June 1, the always reliable George Emmons was the officer of the deck. Of all the Expedition’s officers, no one had given more of himself than Emmons. In Fiji he had spent more days in an open boat than anyone else; at the Columbia bar he had supervised the successful rescue of the Peacock’s crew; just a few weeks later, while suffering from malaria, he had braved hostile native tribes, grizzly bears, and uncooperative guides to complete a grueling overland expedition to San Francisco. If there was an officer who deserved Wilkes’s gratitude, it was George Emmons.

But when Emmons sent an officer to Wilkes’s cabin “to inform him that I was fearful our spars or rigging might give away if we continued under the same sail,” the commander of the Ex. Ex. ridiculed the lieutenant’s concern by insisting that he make more sail. Emmons dutifully set the fore topgallant sail and the jib. Under the increased strain, the Vincennes parted her bobstay—the chain that led from the tip of the bowsprit down to the cutwater at the bow’s waterline. Without the bobstay, the Vincennes would quickly lose the bowsprit. Emmons had no choice but to put the helm up and begin to reduce sail. Wilkes erupted from his cabin, appearing on deck “very much excited, &” according to Emmons, “immediately commenced giving his orders in a manner that put all order & system of carrying on duty out of the question. . . . I, however, did not partake of his excitement and continued to repeat his orders—that he might not accuse me of disrespect—and at the same time see what a mess he had got every thing in, until he finally ordered me below & sent for the 1st Lieut.” Of course, First Lieutenant Walker did exactly what Emmons had attempted to do—shortening sail and replacing the bobstay before bringing the ship back on course under reduced sail.

By the morning of June 9, the Vincennes was approaching the foggy coast of the United States. At noon of the next day, she anchored off Sandy Hook, where a steamer came alongside and began towing the ship into New York Harbor. The question that concerned all aboard the flagship was what Wilkes would do with his broad pennant. Reynolds was not on hand to witness the scene, but others would later tell him about Wilkes’s final act as Commodore of the U.S. Ex. Ex. “Curiosity was now on tip toe among the officers of the Vincennes to see how this bravado would terminate,” he wrote. Would Wilkes dare anchor at the navy yard with the pennant flying or would he replace it with the coach whip of a lieutenant commander? “He did neither,” Reynolds wrote. “His impudence—great as it was—could not carry him through the first alternative. His bloated pride would not allow him to adopt the other.” As the ship approached the Battery, Wilkes called the crew to muster and “expressed to them my thanks for the manner in which they had conducted themselves during the cruise.” A salute was fired, his pennant was hauled down, and Wilkes turned over the ship to Hudson. Hitching a ride with the pilot, Wilkes was able to slip ashore without having to confront the officer whom Reynolds termed “the real Commodore of the Station.”

Wilkes might call himself the discoverer of Antarctica, as well as the surveyor of Fiji and the Columbia River, but for many of his officers, none of these accomplishments seemed to matter anymore. Of the disaffected, no one was more embittered than William Reynolds. By the time he reached Rio de Janeiro, his feelings for his commander had become a dark obsession that threatened to permanently disfigure his once balanced, sensitive, and ebullient personality. “[Wilkes] has done wrongs that he can never repair,” he wrote. “He has in the gratification of his personal prejudices, his own venom & spite, inflicted injuries on men whose shoes he is unworthy to unloose, that can never be wiped away . . . ! There is not a dissembler in existence more vile or more depraved than the same Mr. Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, whom I once thought was every thing pure and honorable.”

Reynolds’s anger made it impossible for him to recognize the magnitude of what the Expedition had accomplished. He thought only of the odious Wilkes. “Not one hope has been realized,” he insisted. It was only in the context of the suffering he and his fellow officers had endured that Reynolds could compare the Expedition to anything else in American history: “I look upon the hardships, dangers & servitude that we have undergone in this Expedition as parallel in their extent to the worst years of the ‘Revolutionary War’ & if its operations had been protracted for 48 months longer, every one of us would have been expended, from a wearing out of the system.” Although he had since gained some of the weight back, Reynolds, almost six feet tall and already rail thin at 147 pounds when the cruise began, had dropped to just 135 pounds—“enough to have satisfied a dozen Shylocks,” he wrote his family. “I am thin as a shadow, and ugly as thin. My general title of ‘Old Reynolds,’ is no misnomer. I look old & feel accordingly.”

And yet despite everything, the fact of the matter was that they had experienced the adventure of their lives. Rio de Janeiro marked their complete circumnavigation of the world. They had literally gone where no man had gone before, and while Reynolds might not appreciate it, others could not help but be in awe of what he and his shipmates had achieved. Reynolds reported that the officers of the Delaware stationed at Rio “looked at me as if I were a natural curiosity. They had not seen an Explorer in full bloom.”

They left Rio de Janeiro on May 22. The Porpoise passed close to the Delaware’s stern and Reynolds was delighted to hear her band playing “‘Sweet Home’ as loud as they could blow.” Frequent calms and headwinds prolonged the return to New York. Not until early July did they reach the navy yard, and to Reynolds’s considerable anguish he was required to keep watch aboard the Porpoise for several more days. He soon learned that Veidovi had died the day after the Vincennes’s arrival, “in consequence,” the New York Herald explained, “of having no human flesh to eat.” A few days later the Herald reported that the surgeons at the navy hospital where Veidovi had died had “already cut off his head, and it has been laying in pickle for several days.” Soon after, the Fijian’s fleshless skull became a permanent part of the Expedition’s collection.

On the morning of the Fourth of July, two young men came aboard the Porpoise, both of them looking for Lieutenant William Reynolds. It wasn’t until one of them asked, “Which of you, is it?” that Reynolds knew the man’s voice to be that of his older brother Sam. After four long years, the two brothers didn’t recognize each other.

Sam and his friend took William ashore to see some of the holiday celebration in New York. By July 6, he had been granted a leave of absence and spent the night at the American Hotel. Then it was on to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “The return home!,” he recorded on the last page of his journal, “cannot be written here.”

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