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"A Flogging at Sea, 1839" Topic


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Renaissance
18th Century
Napoleonic
19th Century

217 hits since 14 Mar 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2019 12:21 p.m. PST

"Until the middle of the nineteenth century, flogging was the most common form of punishment used to maintain discipline aboard ship whether the vessel was military or merchant. Flogging was a whipping using a cat-o'nine-tails – a diabolical device designed especially for its task. The cat-o'nine-tails consisted of nine lengths of cord with each length containing up to three knots. The cords were attached to a handle often made of a short piece of thick rope. The knotted cords would rip into a victim's skin with each lash causing excruciating pain. Repeated blows often left the victim unconscious. The number of lashes meted out to a victim depended on the offense committed and the Captain's discretion. Typically, they would range between 5 and 100.

Flogging at sea was brought to the attention of the general public in 1840 through the publication of a number of books that highlighted the practice. The most notable of these was Two Years Before the Mast written by Richard Henry Dana. Dana had dropped out of Harvard for medical reasons and spent two years as a crewman aboard a freighter plying the Pacific. His popular book recounted his experience including the use of flogging. Although Dana abhorred the practice, he did not condemn it…."
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