The following timeline draws from Franklin’s, Back’s, and Richardson’s journals to detail the death march from Obstruction Rapids to Fort Enterprise in October of 1821 that saw eleven party members perish.
The party spends the better part of the day traversing the Obstruction Rapids on St. Germain’s makeshift raft. Once the party is safely deposited on the west side of the Coppermine, Franklin dispatches Back, St. Germain, Solomon Bélanger, and Beauparlant to Fort Enterprise post haste.
Back’s advance party travels 4 miles before camping for the night.
The expedition travels 6 miles, following the tracks made by Back’s advance party. Hood’s health continues to deteriorate while Crédit is exhausted from carrying the men’s tent.
The expedition spends the morning traversing a series of black hills through deep snow and strong winds. At noon, both Vaillant and Crédit have fallen behind by 1 1/2 miles and 2 miles respectively. Richardson finds Vaillant immobile, while Crédit has disappeared, presumably having returned to the morning’s encampment. The party is too weak and mutinous to rescue them. Richardson, Hepburn, and Hood elect to encamp at the next possible opportune site to relieve the party of further encumbrance.
By noon, the expedition comes upon a thicket of willows that would provide fuel for the Richardson/Hepburn/Hood camp. Supplies are deposited, allowing the rest of the party to proceed faster to Fort Enterprise. None besides Michel Terohaute express interest in remaining behind. The expedition proceeds another 6 3/4 miles, trudging through deep snow before stopping for the night.
After a bitterly cold night without shelter, Terohaute and Jean Baptiste Bélanger plead to return to Hood’s camp. They also pledge to look for Vaillant and Crédit if they had the strength. A quarter of mile later, Perrault also breaks down and is permitted to turn back. After crossing a medium sized lake, Fontano likewise stops and elects to return to Hood’s camp which lies 2 miles to the rear. During this time, Augustus forges ahead of the party, only to reach Fort Enterprise a little after the rest of the party. The remaining men trudge onwards for 4 1/2 miles, stopping for the night near small willows and the shelter of rocks.
Richardson, Hepburn, and Hood begin reading religious books for succour, and find that their conversations bring them good cheer.
The party walks with renewed vigour 5 miles to the edge of Little Marten Lake. They retire for the night at the first rapid in Winter River.
Back’s party reaches a largely abandoned Fort Enterprise to find no provisions and no note from Willard Wentzel.