Flogging

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jonwilly, May 28, 2011.

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  1. I frequently argue with a US acquaintance, good natured, I'll add.
    One of his favourite insults is
    If you hadn't Flogged your Men you might not have lost the Colonies.
    Now as I understand, Flogging was a Regimental Punishment, CO's Orders in my Day and in the Navy Captains Orders or whatever, Lt to Captain dependent on size of boat, I will suggest.
    However some where in the past I have read 'Somewhere' that it was not a frequent Punishment in either service.
    Also excessive use brought an investigation from above.

    john
     
  2. Well that's the Yanks for you. Their inability to tell the difference between popular mythology and reality is explained by their general belief that their rebellion was spurred by noble sentiments.
     
  3. Last time a British soldier was officially flogged was in Burma, 12 lashes. A court marshall found the senior officer acted correctly.
     
  4. Rubbish! I flogged one in Dortmund in 1973, I got 2/6d, I seem to recall.
     
  5. Corporal and capital punishment was the norm for a variety of crimes at the time. Judges and magistrates routinely sentenced civilians to public floggings. I think that employers could also flog servants and apprentices.

    I remember reading somewhere that Nelson's sailors were generally punished less harshly than ordinary people - at least for petty offences.
     
  6. To my knowledge, the last time a British soldier was flogged was in Germany in 199_. It was carried out by a junior NCO with a couple of rifle slings and promptly covered up by the OC and WO2.
     
  7. Fang_Farrier

    Fang_Farrier LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    I seem to recall a story about Wellington and Bulcher (though I may be wrong on that) in that Bulcher was there as a flogging is going on, he asked what did the man do? And was told he'd stolen. He then remarked that in the Prussian Army he'd be shot for it. He asked how common floggings were to ne told often. To which his responce he only had to shoot a man very occasionally.
    Something like that anyway!
     
  8. You would've thought that shooting the man once would have been enough. Still the Prussians never were very good marksmen,
     
  9. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    "The attitude of the Gallant six hundred, which so aroused Lord Tennyson's admiration, arose from the fact that should anyone be bold enough to ask the reason why, the would-be enquirer would be triced to a triangle and flogged insensible"

    the Advance to Barbarism
     
  10. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    In the Royal Navy of Nelson's time, physical punishment was the norm.

    It began with 'starting'. Petty officers, etc., carried a knotted rope, and they lashed out at (started) any men who were not thought to be carrying out an order with sufficient speed.

    The next step in the corporal punishment ladder was at the captain's discretion. He could (by the Articles of War) order up to one dozen lashes. This limit was often exceeded and captain recorded punishments of two, three or four dozen lashes in the ships log. As a copy of this log was regularly sent to the Admiralty, the additional punishment was officially winked at.

    The final stage in the ladder of punishments was the court martial. This could order punishments up to and including death. The worst case flogging was 'flogging around the fleet'. A seaman might be sentenced to 500 lashes. He was then put in a boat and rowed around the ships currently at anchor - receiving a proportion of his punishment at each.

    How much punishment a man might be subjected to depended on the officers he served under. At one end of the scale was Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, who disliked physical punishment. He would give a man menial tasks like cleaning the ships heads (toilets) for a month rather than flogging him. In spite of (or because of) this attitude, Collingwood's ships were generally the happiest and best disciplined in the fleet.

    At the other of the scale was Hugh Pigot. Pigot was a sadistic thug who would often punish for no reason other than a seaman was the last man down from aloft. In 1797, his ship was the scene of the bloodiest mutiny in the RN's history.

    HMS Hermione (1782) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    In general, sailors preferred to sail under a 'taut' captain - that is to say a captain that would award physical punishment, but was scrupulously fair about it. This meant that the idle, the bullying and the slovenly among them were given an incentive to reform their ways, while good men were unlikely to be punished.

    What irked sailors was not so much punishment as pay. They were frequently paid late and not in cash, but in tickets that could only be redeemed at their home ports, often only at a discount to their face value. In the war of 1812, American ships were recorded as going into battle flying banners reading 'we fight for dollars' or similar - reminding their opponents that they'd been paid and 'Jack Tar' hadn't.

    Wordsmith
     
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  11. You were ripped off. We went decimal in 1971 so you should have got 12,1/2pence instead.
     
  12. You are so right, however, I was attached to 36 HY AD REGT RA, even the Thunderbirds were behind the times!
     
  13. Perhaps a reflection of the harshness of the criminal justice system for civvies at the time.

    Every year, in RN wardrooms the world over, Trafalgar Night is celebrated. The guest of honour will tell a little anecdote about Nelson. Often it's the tale of a Booty on one of Nelson's ships being found drunk at his post.

    The penalty awarded by the court martial was death.

    Nelson pardoned him, but not until the bloke was standing with the noose round his neck and waiting to meet his maker. What a b@stard.

    In Nelson's day, the rum ration amounted to about 200 units a week - about 10 times today's safe limit for booze. Men going to sea very quickly became raging alcoholics and the withdrawal caused by having the rum ration stopped could be a fate worse than death.

    IIRC flogging (and bounty for captured ships) remained in the Naval Discipline Act until the 1950s but there's no record of a man being flogged in the 20th Century. The caning of boys (matelots under 16) continued until the late 1960s.
     
  14. B_AND_T

    B_AND_T LE Book Reviewer

    I've been flogging my little soldier for years. Never did him any harm.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. The army was notorious for the lash, in the 18th century, the Navy too although the myth is a little unfair. The Navy did use the lash, but for some summary punishments, it was regarded as fair enough - there are enough accounts where sailors had the option of getting too drunk to work on board ship and taking 12-24 lashes for drunkeness or not drinking and avoiding the lash. Enough figured it was a fair price.

    Summary punishments from the captain were much preferred to a court martial which, because of all the faff (3-5 captains or higher; digging out the articles of war, evidence etc; doing this in the reaches of the Empire, like the indies - it really just wasn't practical) carried enormours punishments mainly as a deterrence. 300 lashes for some crimes, 500; I think somewhere one person was sentenced to 1,000 for buggery (i.e. death - in many instances surgeons would get the man drunk enough to not feel too much pain, and allow the punishment to continue rather than stop it before he died - afterall, it'd continue when he was sufficiently well). Society and indeed most sailors really hated sodomy. A captain was hanged for it, and even unconsenting victims would be punished, very harshly, at times. The attitude regarding sodomy in the Navy was far more unfair and harsh than most other crimes on board ship.

    Punishment-wise, what sailors really objected to was inconsistent punishment. With the Hermione mutiny, it wasn't just the fact that pigot was tyranical and cruel although that certainly didn't help, but he arbitrarily awarded punishments for crimes that varied - drunkeness might ilicit 12 lashes one time and 120 the next. Sailors liked a stable environment and captains had to remain consistent. However, it's true that happier ships tended to have officers who didn't believe in heavy corporal punishment. On the other hand, the Navy needed all the officers it could get manning-wise, so the quality of officers and their philosophy regarding punishment would really vary.

    The admiralty would investigate excessive punishments or official ones, but there were a fair few arbitrary ones that you'll only find in accounts. Interestingly the Navy in the late 17th - early 19th century was surprisingly democratic, certainly before the US war of independance, class was far less of a requisit for being a good officer and commanding the respect of the men than it was in the army, which really reflects the vast demand for officers especially in times of war -1702-1713; 1739-43/44(?); 1756-63; 1775-1784 etc. The Navy had a decent system of complaints, ships' companies in ports could take petitions to the Admiralty representative in the port and there are accounts of long queues of men waiting to present their grievances and not just once every now and then. It was accepted as part fo the service. Certainly a lot of evidence investigated by NAM Rodger indicates it. Other historians take a more cynical view, although others support Rodger.

    The navy was definitely in general a user of the lash, but in the 'age of sail' such as it was it was a not as harsh as it was in the Victorian Navy, but again, it all depended on the Admiral or Captain or Master and Commander. There were always some who were harsher than others. The instances of really unfair punishments or extremely harsh ones were far less frequent than it's generally held to be. Also, keep in mind, who would be the ones who objected. Pressed men generally spent more time lambasting the Navy for every one of its flaws; they usually ran (read deserted). Many career sailors accepted it for the well being of the ship. Theives often got harsh summary punishments, but most sailors despised theives and looked on the harsh punishment with satisfaction. The Navy was not a massively oppressive institution, especially by the standards of the day. As far as work went, in many respects servicing a large man o' war was better than a large indiaman which tended to run with as few crew as possible, so each man had to do more. As for punishment and the lash, a lot accepted it for the good of the ship, if not approved it.

    As for the army, I couldn't comment, but the overrising impression I always got was that it was worse punishmentwise.