CHARLES W. CHIPP, LT, USN
Charles Chipp '68
Date of birth: August 23, 1848
Date of death: September 12, 1881
The Lucky Bag was first published in 1894.
Charles Winans Chipp was admitted to the Naval Academy from New York on July 23, 1863 at age 14 years 11 months.
Biography & Loss
Born in Kingston, New York, he was educated at the United States Naval Academy in Newport, Rhode Island and Annapolis, Maryland. After graduating in 1868, he served in the steam frigate USS Franklin, flagship of the European Squadron. In 1871, he participated in the United States expedition to Korea. In 1873 he served in USS Juniata when that ship was ordered to the coast of Greenland to search for the Arctic steamer Polaris. Also serving aboard Juniata was Lieutenant George DeLong '65, who would later be Chipp's commanding officer. After service in several other ships, Chipp was ordered to San Francisco to serve as Executive Officer of USS Jeannette, with DeLong commanding. Jeannette was fitting out for her mission, which would be to attempt to sail to the North Pole via the Bering Strait.
On July 8, 1879, USS Jeannette stood out to sea through the Golden Gate on her voyage of exploration. At that time, DeLong wrote to his wife:
Chipp is, as he always was and always will be, calm and earnest. He has always something to do, and is always doing it in that quiet, steady and sure manner of his. He smiles rarely and says very little, but I know where he is and how reliable and true he is in every respect.
Jeannette reached St. Lawrence Bay, Siberia, August 27, 1879, then headed north into the Chukchi Sea. She became trapped in the pack ice near Wrangel Island and in June 1881 was crushed and sank. After the ship's crew trudged across the rugged ice to open water, they set out in three small boats toward the Siberian mainland. The boats were commanded by DeLong, Chipp and Chief Engineer George W. Melville. On September 12, 1881, the three boats were separated in a storm. Lieutenant Chipp's boat, with Chipp and seven other men aboard, was never seen again and no trace of it was ever found.
From "Dangers of Naval Life" by Arthur H. Dutton, former Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, in the January-June 1909 issue of "The Overland Monthly":
Arctic exploration has claimed its victims in the navy as well as in civil life and the army. The deaths of Lieutenant Commander G.W. De Long and Lieutenant C.W. Chipp during the ill-fated Jeannette expedition of 1881, caused a profound sensation throughout the world, their tragic ends in the bleak Lena Delta region of Northern Siberia appealing strongly and deeply to the popular imagination.
Acting Midshipman, 23 July, 1863. Graduated 2 June, 1868. Ensign, 19 April, 1869. Master, 12 July, 1870. Lieutenant, 2 December, 1872. Lost in the Arctic Regions January, 1883.
The Chipp River in northern Alaska was named in honor of Lieutenant Charles W. Chipp. Chipp Peak on Kupreanof Island, in the Alexander Archipelago in southeastern Alaska, is also named for him.