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heipless boy's of his charge to the grating. While I stood in trembling expectation of being degraded by the hated cat, a summons from the captain providentially called off our brave boy-flogger, and I escaped. The offence was never mentioned afterwards. The reader can easily perceive how such a constant exposure to the lash must embitter a seaman's life.”
Mark the severity visited upon the slightest offences. “ A midshipman named Gale, a most rascally, unprincipled fellow, found his pocket handkerchief in possession of one of the crew. He charged the man with stealing it. It was in vain that the poor wretch asserted that he found it under his hammock.
He was reported as a thief; a court-martial sat upon him, and returned the shamefully disproportionate sentence of three hundred lashes through the feet, and one year's imprisonment! Nor was that sentence a dead letter; the unhappy man endured it to the letter. Fifty were laid on alongside of the Macedonian, in conformity with a common practice of inflicting the most strokes at the first ship, in order that the gory back of the criminal may strike the more terror into the crews of the other ships. This poor tortured man bore two hundred and twenty, and was pronounced by the attending surgeon unfit to receive the rest. Galled, bruised, and agonized as he was, he besought him to suffer the infliction of the remaining eighty, that he might not be called to pass through the degrading scene again ; but this prayer was denied ! He was brought on board, and when his wounds were healed, the captain, Shylock-like, determined to have the whole pound of flesh, ordered him to receive the remainder!”
“ I have heard,” says the late William Ladd, “ the captain of a British man-of-war order one of his men to receive a dozen lashes for having on blue trowsers. Sailors are subject every moment of their lives, not only to a torrent of imprecations and curses, but to the boatswain's cat-oʻ-nine-tails. The least complaint brings them to the gangway; and not unfrequently is a sailor sentenced to receive five hundred and even a thousand lashes, to be inflicted day after day as he may be able to bear them. He is attended at each whipping by a surgeon to determine how much he can bear without immediate danger to life; and often does the flagellation proceed till the victim faints, and then he is respited to renew his sufferings another day. This account I had from a British surgeon. I have often shuddered at the recital of the whippings through the fleet, the keel-hauling, the spread eagle, the gagging, the hand-cuffing, and other punishments inflicted on sailors who have been trepanned or forced into a service from which death is the only release.” *
Nor is the punishment of soldiers much less revolting. “One day,” says the same writer, “I was on parade when preparation was making for a kind of punishment called the gauntlet. "All the soldiers of the regiment were placed in two ranks facing each
* Essays on Peace and War, No. 22
other, and about five feet apart. To each soldier was given a stick three feet long, or more. I could not bear to stay and witness the execution; but I was afterwards informed that the culprit, stripped naked to his waist, and his hands tied before him, was marched between the ranks, preceded by a soldier walking backwards with a bayonet at the sufferer's breast, to keep him from going too fast. In this way he was struck once by every soldier, officers going down on the outside of the ranks to see that each man did his duty! and, if any one was merely suspected of not laying on hard enough, he received over his own head a blow from the officer's
Sometimes the criminal has to retrace his steps; and, as a regiment consists of six hundred or a thousand men, and some German regiments of two thousand, he must receive from twelve hundred to two or even four thousand blows! The punishment often proves fatal ; and to such a pitch of despair were those soldiers carried by their sufferings, that many of them committed suicide ; and one poor fellow shot himself near my lodgings."
“ Flogging is certainly a tremendous punishment. The delinquent is stripped to the waist, tied up by his hands, and then flogged with a whip having nine lashes, with three knots each, so that each stroke makes twenty-seven wounds ; if a capital sentence is awarded, he receives nine hundred and ninety-nine of these stripes; and, at every twenty-five strokes, the drummer, who inflicts them, is changed, in order to insure a more energetic enforcement of the penalty. This punishment occurs very frequently in the English army, drunkenness and other acts of insubordination being often punished with from one to two hundred lashes." *
“ One wintry morn," says another eye-witness, † “ when the bleak wind whistled along the ranks of a regiment paraded to see corporal punishment inflicted, every eye was turned in pity towards the delinquent”-his offence was drunkenness—“ until the commanding officer, with stentorian lungs, cried out, “Strip, sir.' The morning was so bitterly cold, that the mere exposure of a man's naked body was itself a severe punishment. When the offender was tied, or rather hung, up by the hands, his back, from intense cold and previous flogging, exhibited a complete blackand-blue appearance. On the first lash, the blood spirted out several yards; and, after he had received fifty, his back from the neck to the waist, was one continued stream of blood. When taken down, he staggered, and fell to the ground. The poor man never looked up again; his prospects as a soldier were utterly destroyed; and so keenly did his degradation prey upon his spirits, that he at length shot himself in his barrack-room.
I will now give a specimen from our own country. A surgeon, stationed during the war of 1812–14 at Greenbush, N. Y., says, “One morning several prisoners confined in the provost guardhouse, were brought out to hear their sentences. Some wore the
^ * The testimony of a warrior, quoted in the Harbinger of Peace, vol. i., p. 281
+ lb., p. 279.
marks of long confinement, and upon all had the severity of the prison house stamped its impression. They looked dejected at this public exposure, and anxious to learn their fate. I had never seen the face of any of them before, and only knew that a single one had been adjudged to death. Soon as their names were called, and their sentences announced, I discerned, by his agony and gestures, the miserable man on whom that sentence was to fall-a man in the bloom of youth, and the fulness of health and vigor.
“ Prompted by feelings of sympathy, I called next morning to see him in his prison. There, chained by his leg to the beam of the guard-house, he was reading the Bible, trying to prepare himself, as he said, for the fatal hour. I learned from him the circumstances of his case. He was the father of a family, having a wife and three young children, thirty or forty miles distant from the camp. His crime was desertion; and his only object, he declared, was to visit his wife and children. Having seen that all was well with them, it was his intention to return. But, whatever his intention, he was a deserter, and, as such, taken and brought into the camp, manacled. The time between the sentence and its execution was brief; the authority in whom alone was vested the power of reprieve or pardon, distant. Thus he had no hope, and requested only the attendance of a minister of the gospel, and permission to see his wife and children. The first part of the request was granted; but whether he was permitted or not to see his family, I do not now remember.
“ Dreading the hour of his execution, I resolved, if possible, to avoid being present at the scene. But the commander sent me an express order to attend, that I might, in my official capacity of surgeon, see the sentence fully executed. The poor fellow was taken from the guard house, to be escorted to the fatal spot. Before him was his coffin-a box of rough pine boards—borne on the shoulders of two men. The prisoner stood, with his arms pinioned, between two clergymen. A white cotton gown, or winding sheet, reached to his feet. It was trimmed with black, and had attached to it, over his heart, the black image of a heartthe mark at which the executioners were to aim. On his head was a cap of white, also trimmed with black. His countenance was blanched to the hue of his winding sheet, and his frame trembled with agony. Our procession formed, we moved forward with slow and measured steps to the tune of a death march, (Roslin Castle,) played with muffled drums, and mourning fifes. The scene was solemn beyond the power of description; a man in the vigor of life walking to his grave-to the tune of his own death march-clothed in his burial robes-surrounded, not by friends assembled to perform the last sad offices of affection, and to weep over him in the last sad hour, but by soldiers with bristling bayonets and loaded muskets, urged by stern command to do the violence of death to a fellow soldier. Amid reflections like these, we arrived at the place of execution, a large open field, in whose centre a heap of earth, freshly thrown up, marked the spot of the deserter's grave. On this field the whole force then at the cantonment was drawn up in the form of a hollow square, with the side beyond the grave vacant. The executioners, eight in number, had been drawn by lot. No soldier would volunteer for such a duty. Their muskets had been charged by the officer of the day, seven of them with ball, the eighth with powder alone. Thus each may believe that he has the blank cartridge, and therefore has no hand in the death of his brother soldier-striking indications of the nature of the service.
“ The coffin was placed parallel with the grave, and about two feet distant. In the intervening space, the prisoner was directed to stand. He desired permission to say a word to his fellow soldiers; and thus standing between his coffin and his grave, he warned them against desertion, continuing to speak until the officer on duty, with his watch in his hand, announced to him in a low voice, Two o'clock, your last moment is at hand—you must kneel on your coffin. This done, the officer drew down the white cap, so as to cover the eyes and most of the face of the prisoner. The kneeling was the signal for the executioners to advance. They had before, to avoid being distinguished by the prisoner, stood intermingled with the soldiers who formed the line. They now came forward, marching abreast, and took their stand a little to the left, about two rods distant from their living mark. The officer raised his sword. At this signal, the executioners took aim. He then gave a blow on a drum which was at hand; the executioners all fired at the same instant. The miserable man, with a horrid scream, leaped from the earth, and fell between his coffin and his grave.
The sergeant of the guard, a moment after, shot him through the head, holding the muzzle so near that his cap took fire; and there the body lay upon the face, the head emitting the mingled fumes of burning cotton and burning hair. The whole line then marched by the body, as it lay upon the earth, the head still smoking, that every man might behold for himself the fate of a deserter.
“We then started on our return. The whole band struck up, with uncommon animation, our national air, (Yankee Doodle,) and to its lively measures we were hurried back to our parade ground! Having been dismissed, the commander of the post sent an invitation to all the officers to meet at his quarters, whither we repaired, and were treated to a glass of gin and water!!”
I will quote a recent case from England. “On the 29th of June, 1839, the Tower of London and its environs were thrown into great excitement by the flogging of two privates, for insulting noncommissioned officers! One was sentenced to receive one hundred lashes with the cat-o'-nine-tails, and the other one hundred and fifty. The time chosen was ten o'clock; the place the most public in the Tower. The first man brought out, was a fine young man, named Jarman, whose crime was insulting his sergeant. He was secured to the halberts by thin cords, which severely cut his flesh; and the dreadful and beastly infliction commenced. He received his punishment without uttering a word or a groan, although the punishment was unusually severe, the drummers being changed every ten lashes, instead of twenty-five as heretofore, and the cat, the instrument of punishment, very heavy. After he had received the hundred lashes, or nine hundred stripes, his back presented a mangled appearance, and the blood poured down his person.
“As soon as the first man left the square, the second man, Slade, a much slighter person than the other, was called to the front. He was sentenced to receive one hundred and fifty lashes, or one thousand three hundred and fifty stripes. It was evident he did not possess the nerve of the other man; he shook so violently that he was scarcely able to pull his jacket off, and his terror was evident to all. Upon being tied up, he shook from head to foot; and the moment he was struck, he began to shriek loudly, and earnestly called out “mercy, mercy!' which were heard very distinctly all over the Tower. The cat fell with double force on his back, owing to its being wetted with the blood of the other man. Slade no sooner began to call out than the drums were beaten to stifle his cries, and re-echoed among the walls. When about seventy or eighty lashes had been inflicted, the poor fellow's head fell on his shoulder, and it was supposed he had fainted; but such was not the case, as the commanding officer walked up to the triangle, and on looking him in the face, he ordered the drummer to proceed. At this time, with the exception of the drummers who were selected to flog, it took all the others to secure him, his back being literally cut to pieces from his neck to his loins. His cries for mercy were unavailing, until one hundred lashes had been inflicted, when it was found he was unable to bear any more. He was led away between two of his comrades, a truly shocking spectacle of suffering humanity. Several men fainted away; and we could mention the names of several officers who did have humanity enough to loosen the stocks and coats of several privates. Many clerks and others of the ordnance department, witnessed part of the punishment, but, to use their own words, were unable to stand it out. The lady of the resident governor happened to go to her window, and, hearing the cries of Slade, fell into hysterics, and the whole family were for some time in great confusion. Several respectable civilians expressed their indignation, and said they would not live in the Tower, if such scenes were repeated.”
In other countries, military punishments are often still more barbarous; but I will quote only a single case similar to those of England and the United States. “Shortly,” says Campbell, writing from Algiers, “after we reached
the ground where the French deserter's fate was to be enacted. From the prison-gate we saw come forth a company, their drums muffled with crape, and the victim in the centre on foot, followed by the horse and cart that were to carry back his dead body. After his sentence had been read by the commanding officer, he made his last speech to the troops, more than a thousand in number, drawn up around him: "Comrades, what my sentence of death has told you is all true, except that it has unjustly called me the chief conspirator in this late desertion. For I seduced nobody into it; on the contrary, I was persuaded into it by others. The motive of my crime was merely an intense desire to see my father's family in Italy; and now