Your task is to map another chunk of the Arctic region; thus, erase yet another blank space on the map of the world. Your mission is to find and sail through the Northwest Passage, a sea route connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific. Its middle part has not been discovered yet, but the Admiralty hopes that it is there and your goal is to prove it.
Orders from the Admiralty
By the Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Her Majesty's Government having deemed it expedient that further attempt should be made for the accomplishment of a north-west passage by sea from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, of which passage a small portion only remains to be completed, we have thought proper to appoint you (Rear-Admiral Franklin) to the command of the expedition to be fitted out for that service, consisting of Her Majesty's Ships "Erebus," under your command, taking with you Her Majesty's ship "Terror," under the command of Captain Crozier.
On putting out to sea, you are to proceed, in the first place, by such a route as from the wind and weather you may deem to be the most suitable for despatch, to Davis' Strait.
You will then proceed in the execution of your orders into Baffin's Bay, and get as soon as possible to the western side of the Strait.
As, however, we have thought fit to cause each ship to be fitted with a small steam-engine and a propeller, to be used only in pushing the ships through channels between masses of ice... the supply of fuel to be taken in the ships is necessarily small so you will use it only in cases of difficulty.
Lancaster Sound, and its continuation through Barrow's Strait, having been four times navigated without any impediment by Sir Edward Parry, will probably be found without any obstacles from ice or islands. Proceed in a straight course to Melville Island; continue to push westward and southward without loss of time in a course as direct towards Bhering's Strait as the position and extent of the ice, or the existence of land, at present unknown, may admit.
Should you be so fortunate as to accomplish a passage through Bhering's Strait, you are then to proceed to the Sandwich Islands, to refit the ships and refresh the crews and you are to lose no time in returning to England by way of Cape Horn.
If at any period of your voyage the season shall be so far advanced as to make it unsafe to navigate the ships and you have to make the resolution of wintering in those regions, you are to use your best endeavours to discover a sheltered and safe harbour, where the ships may be placed in security for the winter.
In an undertaking of this description much must always be left to the discretion of the commanding officer, and you will duly weigh how far the advantage of starting next season from an advanced position may be counterbalanced by what may be suffered during the winter, and by the want of such refreshment and refitting as would be afforded by your return to England.
If you meet with any inhabitants, either Esquimaux or Indians, near the place where you winter, you are to endeavour by every means in your power to cultivate a friendship with them, by presenting them with gifts. You will, however, take care not to suffer yourself to be surprised by them but use every precaution, and be constantly on your guard against any hostility.
We deem it right to caution you against suffering the two vessels placed under your orders to separate, except in the event of accident or unavoidable necessity, and we desire you to keep up the most unreserved communications with the commander of the Terror Captain Crozier.
The expedition has been supplied with a portable observatory to conduct magnetical and meteorological observatories. We direct you, therefore, to place this important branch of science under the immediate charge of Commander Fitzjames.
You are to make use of every means in your power to collect and preserve specimens of animal, mineral and vegetable kingdoms; we trust that you will receive material assistance from the officers under your command, several of whom are represented to us as well qualified in these respects.
Given under our hands, this 5th day of May 1845.