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Thread: Floggings in the Royal Navy?

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    Member chuckster's Avatar
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    Default Floggings in the Royal Navy?

    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?

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    Senior Member JoaMei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckster
    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....
    Last edited by JoaMei; 04-01-2006 at 05:47 PM.

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    Member usmajunk's Avatar
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    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.

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    Senior Member wiking's Avatar
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    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

    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.)

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    Μολὼν λαβέ Hollis's Avatar
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    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..

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    Charlie bit me WolverineBlue's Avatar
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    The Horatio Hornblower series kicked some major ass. I read all the books in a couple of weeks.

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    Senior Member wiking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WolverineBlue
    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.

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    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

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    Senior Member wiking's Avatar
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    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.

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    Avoiding Asshats, Lying Low DeltaWhisky58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danvnuk
    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!

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    Moderator James's Avatar
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    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.

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    Senior Member miguelencanarias's Avatar
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    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'.

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    Evil Socialist Canuckistani ex1cdo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckster
    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?

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

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    Senior Member bluffcove's Avatar
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    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

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    No Good Bloody Seppo California Joe's Avatar
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    Can't wait for the second installment: "Forced Buttsex in the Royal Navy."

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