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(Extract from 1836 Report Commissioners on Military Punishments: Parliamentary Papers, Reports Commissioners, 1836, Vol.1)
Private A.B. of 1st Foot Guards Examined
Q. Have you any Company Courts Martial in your Regiment, where you sit over each other?
A. We have such things.
Q. How do you punish the men in such instances?
A. By what we term in the Regiment sling-belting them.
Q. What is that?
A. Giving them so many dozen strokes with the sling of a firelock.
Q. Whereabouts is it?
A. On the bottom.
Q. With his trousers off do you mean?
Q. He is held by some of his comrades?
Q. He is laid down upon a bench is he not?
Q. For what offences is such a punishment usually awarded?
A. for thieving from his comrades or for dirty tricks.
Q. Is that felt much among the soldiers?
A. It is disgraceful; he is never thought anything of if so punished.
Q. What sort of punishments are inflicted by the men themselves after a Company Court Martial?
A. Giving a man 8 or 10 dozen stripes with the sling of a firelock on the backside.
Q. That is a very severe punishment?
A. Yes it is.
Until the abolition of formal corporal punishment in the British Army in 1881, the floggings ordered by Regimental Court Martial were invariably inflicted across the shoulders with the cat o'nine tails. This punishment survived after 1881 in military prisons but was increasingly replaced by the infliction of the birch across the bare buttocks. In 1895 it was reported that the cat was "never used now except for cases of assault" and that the birch was considered a very severe and humiliating punishment. Most men cried out and those who did not "generally dropped down when others who shouted have not" (Confidential Report of the Committee Appointed to consider Treatment of Military Prisoners, Public Record Office, W.O. 32/8733).
DETAILS FROM RETURN SHOWING PARTICULARS OF EACH CASE OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT INFLICTED IN MILITARY PRISONS AT HOME IN 1895
Brixton Military PrisonA. Jones, Private, 16th Lancers Age 25 Offences: Idleness at crank, reporting sick without cause, refusing crank. Number of lashes ordered: 18 birch Inflicted: 18 birch
Gosport Military PrisonT. O'Connor, Private, 1st Grenadier Guards Age 19 Offences: violently assaulting warders; attempted assault on Governor Number of lashes ordered: 25 birch Inflicted: 25 birch J. Smith, Private, 2nd South Wales Borders Age 20 Offences: repeatedly threatening a warder Number of lashes ordered: 12 birch Inflicted: 12 birch J. Murphy, Private, 2nd West Riding Age 25 Offence: assaulting warder Number of lashes ordered: 25 birch Inflicted: 25 birch
Dublin Military PrisonJ. Batchelor, Private, 2nd Hampshire Regiment Age 20 Offence: repeated idleness at crank Number of lashes ordered: 12 birch Inflicted: 12 birch J. Dansie, Private, 2nd Duke of Cornwall Infantry Age 18 Offence: repeated idleness at crank Number of lashes ordered: 12 birch Inflicted: 12 birch J. Drew, Private, 1st Yorkshire Light Infantry Age 21 Offence: attempting to escape Number of lashes ordered: 12 birch Inflicted: 12 birch
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