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chuckster
04-01-2006, 06:21 PM
I've heard two seperate accounts of discipline policies in the Royal Navy in the age of sail. One is, of course, the brutal British sea captain flogging men sometimes to death for seemingly minor infractions. However, recently I heard an account saying floggings were not as common or as brutal as portrayed in the movies. According to this account, fewer then one tenth of British sailors ever received floggings and those that did were the screw-ups who were punished for actions that threatened the safety of the ship and crew. So, which is more historically accurate?

JoaMei
04-01-2006, 06:30 PM
I've heard two seperate accounts of discipline policies in the Royal Navy in the age of sail. One is, of course, the brutal British sea captain flogging men sometimes to death for seemingly minor infractions. However, recently I heard an account saying floggings were not as common or as brutal as portrayed in the movies. According to this account, fewer then one tenth of British sailors ever received floggings and those that did were the screw-ups who were punished for actions that threatened the safety of the ship and crew. So, which is more historically accurate?

Just think for yourself, draconic penaltys for minor infractions would not be logical and negative for Moral.

And "Movies" are not a good source for correct Information. :)

A good Captain is someone who brings mistake and punishment into proportion, but of course there are or better were bad captains....

usmajunk
04-01-2006, 08:56 PM
if you have seen Master and Commander, there is only one flogging, and that is seen as mild. I know its a movie... but it is based in fact and the author of the book series is generally historically correct. flogging was a common form of discipline, and the amount and harshness depended on the infraction. I you look up flogging through the fleet, which did happen for murder or something, it was basically flogging the person to death in full view of every ship in the harbor at the time. We're talking exposed ribs in the back. nasty nasty stuff.

so yes, it did happen.

wiking
04-02-2006, 02:51 PM
Probably depended on the Captain alot to. If he was a sick ****er who liked to flogg, then there probably was alot of them.

But to the British sailor, the loss of his rum ration would probably sting more than a flogging p-)

Dicipline had to be hard, but not to hard. A captain, and infact the entire Royal Navy (and in some of the major wars, the entire British Isles) counted on quick and unquestioned obedience, and even willing sacrifice of life from the sailors to ensure their survival.

A mutinous crew could easily have turned the Napoleonic war around fast (and i believe it almost did a few times. Nelson was once apointed to a ship to try and calm the crew after they had served under a especially brutal captain.)

Hollis
04-02-2006, 02:56 PM
The H. Hornblower series is a series of excellent books on the British Navy. Also why Royal Marines were on board. A impressed salior is not too impressed with being there.

Also does anyone know the story why 12 bells are no longer rung, it was changed to 8 bells..

WolverineBlue
04-02-2006, 04:06 PM
The Horatio Hornblower series kicked some major ass. I read all the books in a couple of weeks.

wiking
04-02-2006, 04:15 PM
The Horatio Hornblower series kicked some major ass. I read all the books in a couple of weeks.

I'm reading one of them right now. Very good books.

Danvnuk
04-02-2006, 06:40 PM
If you like Hornblower, I highly recommend Patrick O'Brians 'Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Mauturin' series of books - read them all through 3 or 4 times - possibly the best books I've ever read.

The Russell Crowe film 'Master and Commander' was drawn from a few of the books in the series.

As for Flogging - From what I've read, it was a common punishment for serious infractions, although it depended on the paticular Captain's taste for it, Nelson for example was apparently not a huge fan - but it was certainly necessary to maintain discipline.

Interestingly - most of the infractions and the penalties for disobeying the rules were known as the 'Articles of War' and read to the crew when a new Captain came aboard ship and in most cases every Sunday - Most of the penalties resulted in Death - and there were over 200 'articles'

Almost every eventuality was covered down to things like Buggering an animal for example = Death :)

wiking
04-02-2006, 06:44 PM
Usual wording was "Death or such less punishment" except for things like murder, decertion and the like. Those just had "...shall suffer Death."

For minor infractions, pumping out the bilgewater seems to be a common punishment.

DeltaWhisky58
04-02-2006, 07:14 PM
If you like Hornblower, I highly recommend Patrick O'Brians 'Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Mauturin' series of books - read them all through 3 or 4 times - possibly the best books I've ever read.

The Russell Crowe film 'Master and Commander' was drawn from a few of the books in the series.

As for Flogging - From what I've read, it was a common punishment for serious infractions, although it depended on the particular Captain's taste for it, Nelson for example was apparently not a huge fan - but it was certainly necessary to maintain discipline.

Interestingly - most of the infractions and the penalties for disobeying the rules were known as the 'Articles of War' and read to the crew when a new Captain came aboard ship and in most cases every Sunday - Most of the penalties resulted in Death - and there were over 200 'articles'

Almost every eventuality was covered down to things like Buggering an animal for example = Death :)

Agreed - excellent books. Aubrey, the hero of O'Brien's novels was no fan of flogging and hardly ever imposed this form of punishment whereas some captains were know for being hard floggers. It was exactly the same in different Regiments in the British Army, some did, some didn't - sometimes down to individual COs, but in others there were long standing codes wherebye they just didn't flog. Flogging was only abolished in the 1870s or thereabouts!

James
04-02-2006, 07:23 PM
I greatly enjoyed the Aubrey-Maturin series. I was sad when I finished the last one. O'Brien started writing another one but passed away before he finished it. :-(

miguelencanarias
04-03-2006, 12:07 PM
I think the best reference should be a scholar/historian study instead of fiction books and movies (as much as I like the Patrick O' Bryan books). So I strongly suggest reading DR. N.A.M. RODGER's The Wooden World, an anatomy of the Georgian Navy. He addresses subjects as discipline, pressing, etc.

You will be surprised. There are many misconceptions lingering around, probably fostered by Hollywood movies. Few things were actually as you think they were.

By the way, this is what Patrick O'Brian has to say about this book: 'An uncommonly valuable book... The most authoritative and enjoyable text on the subject that can be imagined'.

ex1cdo
04-03-2006, 12:10 PM
I've heard two seperate accounts of discipline policies in the Royal Navy in the age of sail. One is, of course, the brutal British sea captain flogging men sometimes to death for seemingly minor infractions. However, recently I heard an account saying floggings were not as common or as brutal as portrayed in the movies. According to this account, fewer then one tenth of British sailors ever received floggings and those that did were the screw-ups who were punished for actions that threatened the safety of the ship and crew. So, which is more historically accurate?
What? No more flogging? rofl

"Ashore it's wine, women and song. At sea it's rum, bum and concertina.'

bluffcove
04-06-2006, 12:38 PM
re: 8bells and 12 bells

watches are now run on an 8 hour basis not 12, with three instead of two watches aboard a ship

California Joe
04-06-2006, 12:50 PM
Can't wait for the second installment: "Forced Buttsex in the Royal Navy."

Hollis
04-06-2006, 01:12 PM
re: 8bells and 12 bells

watches are now run on an 8 hour basis not 12, with three instead of two watches aboard a ship

Yes but why,. it use to be 12 bells............ A British Navy Historical Question, They changed it for a reason.

And no discussion of Keal Hauling

bluffcove
04-07-2006, 11:30 AM
8 hour watches, and a dog watch enable more normal sleeping patterns, and are more in keeping with natural circadian rhythms, it also means that in an emergency 2/3rds of a ships crew are avaialbe as opposed to having to an on watch and a tired off watch available.

It is simply easier to work a 3 watch system with relaiton to meals sleeping ablutions etc than a two watch system.

Hollis
04-07-2006, 11:50 AM
All the responces makes sense,but the way I heard it was. There was going to be a fleet mutiny, on a certain day at 12 bells. The Admiralty caught wind of it. and decided on that day, once it got to 8 bells, they would start again. That threw the mutineers in to caos, and nothing happened.. They never did get organized for another fleet wide mutiny. Not sure of the time line.

Ok for keel hauling? A punishment for someone who seriously betrayed his shipmates. (not the ship or officers)




8 hour watches, and a dog watch enable more normal sleeping patterns, and are more in keeping with natural circadian rhythms, it also means that in an emergency 2/3rds of a ships crew are avaialbe as opposed to having to an on watch and a tired off watch available.

It is simply easier to work a 3 watch system with relaiton to meals sleeping ablutions etc than a two watch system.

oldsoak
04-07-2006, 11:53 AM
I hear getting lashed is a common occurence in the RN and RM :-P

Para
04-07-2006, 07:22 PM
They also made the person make his own cat of nine tails to get lashed with, all good fun, they knew just how to trear a fellow in those days.

Kilgor
04-08-2006, 09:19 PM
I've heard two seperate accounts of discipline policies in the Royal Navy in the age of sail. One is, of course, the brutal British sea captain flogging men sometimes to death for seemingly minor infractions. However, recently I heard an account saying floggings were not as common or as brutal as portrayed in the movies. According to this account, fewer then one tenth of British sailors ever received floggings and those that did were the screw-ups who were punished for actions that threatened the safety of the ship and crew. So, which is more historically accurate?


Hence Churchills comment on the three traditions of the British Navy...
Rum, buggery and the lash :P

wiking
04-08-2006, 11:04 PM
Even one in ten of the British sailors is ALOT, especially during wartime. Even a mere sloop, just about the smallest thing the royal navy kept afloat, held a good 100 men. A Frigat had over 200, one of the really big 1st or 2nd rates could have maybe 500 or more (it takes alot of men to run out a massive 36 pounder cannon, and when you've got maybe 40 of them, and another 40 guns of other calibers + men to handle the sails while in action.)

Just did a search, Nelson's victory alone carried 820+ men.

bluffcove
04-09-2006, 09:13 AM
...Just an interesting note about crewing of sailing vessels:

Ships of the line and clippers would put to see with spare men, so this is not an entirely accurate portrayal of crewing figures. The crew on any sailing boat were part of the machinery, and jsut like anything on a ship they can get worn out broken or replaced.

Taking spares along and overcrewng at the start of a voyage continued into the 20th century!

DeltaWhisky58
04-09-2006, 10:10 AM
Hence Churchills comment on the three traditions of the British Navy...
Rum, buggery and the lash :P

Correctly - Rum, ****** and the Lash

digrar
04-09-2006, 10:43 AM
Yes but why,. it use to be 12 bells............ A British Navy Historical Question, They changed it for a reason.

And no discussion of Keal Hauling

From all accounts keelhauling isn't the most pleasant experience. p-)

Hollis
04-09-2006, 01:33 PM
From all accounts keelhauling isn't the most pleasant experience. p-)

My understanding it was for a crime committed against the crew. Such as stealing extra water... when on heavy ration.

It was up to the crew whether one could survive being keel hauled..

wiking
04-09-2006, 07:37 PM
...Just an interesting note about crewing of sailing vessels:

Ships of the line and clippers would put to see with spare men, so this is not an entirely accurate portrayal of crewing figures. The crew on any sailing boat were part of the machinery, and jsut like anything on a ship they can get worn out broken or replaced.

Taking spares along and overcrewng at the start of a voyage continued into the 20th century!

Actually, the Victory carried 850 men when at full complement, she was down to 820 at Trafalgar.

Even on a healthy ship, i.e. no fever or other plagues, drink, accidents, hangings, venereal diseases, and just plain old age or wearing out of the human body would cause a death on regular intervals.

bluffcove
04-10-2006, 08:49 AM
My point entirely.

Must be great when you get your papers to sail, "guess what mum, Im going on board as a spare uppertopman!"

oldsoak
04-10-2006, 09:21 AM
My point entirely.

Must be great when you get your papers to sail, "guess what mum, Im going on board as a spare uppertopman!"

better than getting tasked with cleaning out barrels...:-P