View Full Version : Lashing as punishment?
Gary of CA
02-11-2008, 09:42 AM
I was a bit shocked to learn that it was used. I knew about buck 'n gag, barrel shirts, riding the horse, being tied to the spare cassion wheel, standing on the platform, standing on the chimes, being tied up by the thumbs, carrying the rail, sweat box, being shaved and drummed out of camp (Rogue's March), hanging, firing squad, but lashing? Here's what I found on page 126 of Fighting Rebels and Redskins:
"Two men of the Volunteers had been tried by Court Martial for robbing a house, and were sentenced to a certain number of lashes on the bare back in the presence of the whole command. We were drawn up in a hollow square, the criminals were brought to the centre, and the sentence of the Court read to them. Then they were tied up to the spare wheel of a caisson and the lashes vigorously administered by the drummers, the military surgeon standing by."
So, how common was lashing? In the hundreds of Civil War books, diaries or journals that I've read, I don't recall reading any other examples. Maybe I just overlooked other examples but if anyone can point out other incidents, please do.
02-11-2008, 10:38 AM
Dear Sir ,
One unfortunate member of Anderson's Raiders" of the" Great Locomotive Chase " fame , when captured , was severly flogged by order of a Confederate lieutenant .
all for the old flag,
02-11-2008, 10:53 AM
Corporal Punishment was much more common in previous centuries than one might realize. In Delaware, punishment by lashes was removed from the law books in 1972, although the last instance was recorded in 1952. There was even a name for the whipping posts, "Red Hannah," and convicts were said to "hug Red Hannah" as they received their lashes.
Beginning in 1638, it was one of several methods of corporal and capital punishment prescribed by law. Horse thieves were punished with 39 lashes and the removal of the soft part of an ear. Branding and tattooing on one's right hand or forehead marked petty thieves and criminals. Public humiliation at being locked into the pillory for an hour at a time was also thought to deter crime. There were 200 crimes for which hanging was the sentence, and the gallows were erected within sight of the whipping post. Rapists commonly received lashes, after which, they were hanged.
In 1945, 24 offenses were punishable by fines, imprisonment in the New Castle Workhouse at hard labor, and a flogging with a prescribed number of lashes using a cat-o'-nine-tails "well laid on the bare back", applied by the superintendent of the county jail or workhouse. The intensity and number of lashes lessened as the debate about corporal punishment increased.
Although much of this post-dates our period, it is here to show how long their use spanned and how commonly accepted lashings were up to almost a century following the War.
The first two pictures are the whipping post and pillory from the workyard behind the museum where I work. The whipping post is still held in the collection in Dover.
02-11-2008, 11:32 AM
My understanding is that flogging was banned in the Federal army at the outset of the war, but was still employed in the Confederate army occasionally. The fact that this instance occurred in the far west is worth considering.
02-11-2008, 11:41 AM
The US Navy was most closely identified with flogging, but the practice was outlawed in 1850, well before the war.
Gary of CA
02-12-2008, 09:23 PM
Thanks everyone. I knew that lashing was quite common in the 18th Century and early 19th Century (especially the British Army and Royal Navy). Three hundred lashes were quite common but administered in 100 lash increments. Napoleonic era British General Robert Crauford (aka Black Bob of the Light Division) used to have it administered despite the enligthened and more humane training given to light troops of the period). To read about it being administered as punishment for a soldier during the Civil War was a bit shocking to me.
02-13-2008, 05:20 PM
For the U.S. Army (Regular Army, that is) flogging was abolished just before the the War of 1812. It was seldom, if ever, used in the state militias. It was thought that inflicting such a punishment on a free citizen contradicted our republican ideals (and it was counterproductive for recruiting purposes). The practice was reintroduced about 1833, when the number of immigrants in the regular army dramatically increased. It was again abolished in 1861.
02-14-2008, 12:42 AM
Diary by a member of the 8th Wisconsin at Young's Point, mid-June 1863:
"Last night the men of the 11th Mo drummed one of their number through the camp out to a swamp a mile a way and left him there. The boys said he was a coward and they did not want him in the regiment.
It was pretty rough on him to be set on a rail, carried on the shoulders of the men, with fife and drum playing the rogues march, and then to be left alone in a dark swamp, but most of the boys hate a coward. "
02-14-2008, 11:12 AM
One of the more infamous incidents of flogging early in the war took place in Missouri. "Rover," a soldier-correspondent with the U.S. Regulars, wrote this in a letter dated July 7, 1861, near Clinton, Missouri:
"Since our stay here, a marauding party, chiefly belonging to the Kansas 1st, sprinkled with one or two regulars, have robbed and plundered all, or nearly so, the farmers within a circle of five miles from camp. . . . Ten of them were sentenced to be tied to a cannon, and receive fifty lashes each, with a 'black snake,' upon the back, and then drummed out of the service. The operation commenced at sunset. About half of them were flogged, when it became too dark to carry the sentence into execution upon all of them. . ."
The event caused great dissastifaction among the volunteer troops present, as "M" of the 2nd Kansas Infantry wrote the following day: "The men feel very bitter about it, and I have heard many threats made against Col. Deitzler [1st Kansas], Halderman [1st Kansas], Sturgis [Major, US], and several other officers."
From Kansans at Wilson's Creek: Soldiers' Letters from the Campaign For Southwest Missouri by Richard W. Hatcher III and William Garrett Piston (1993)
Gary of CA
05-10-2008, 10:54 AM
Darn if Sam Watkins in Company Aytch doesn't mention two men being flogged. His chapter, The Court Martial at Tupelo, discusses the flogging of Dave Brewer and Rube Franklin. I have the new 2007 revised edition and it's on pages 51-52.
05-10-2008, 06:51 PM
I'm surprised you haven't mentioned the infamous "Fort Jackson Mutiny" of December 1863. This occurred directly as a result of LTC Augustus Benedict brutally flogging two black regimental bandsmen with a horsewhip after they "annoyed" him:
05-10-2008, 07:18 PM
I remember reading in one of the "North Carolina Regiments in the Civil War" books about them catching three deserters. They made the men strip down to their drawers, and each man in the company got a "stick of hickory". They then formed up in two lines facing each other, made the deserters run through, and each man got to "hit a lick" on the deserters as they ran by. The man describing it said that by the time the got to the end they were red as blood from top to bottom. They then told them if they caught them again they'd be "planted".
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