Discipline: flogging and its abolition

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Discipline: flogging and its abolition

Postby Mark » 09 Sep 2007 18:37

Can anyone tell me what year flogging was abolished in the Army and Navy and where and when it was last used? Would I be correct in thinking it was last used as a form of punishment during the Zulu War in 1879?

Also does anyone know anything about the reasons why it was abolished?

Cheers

Mark
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Re: Abolition of Flogging

Postby villaphan » 10 Sep 2007 16:33

Hi Mark

I found a couple of references to it on the net both saying it was abolished in 1881 no mention of when it was last used.Also found another one saying it was abolished in 1868 by an act of parliament but wheather that was when it was first discussed through to the actual abolishment i`ve no idea.

Mark
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Re: Abolition of Flogging

Postby hickspasha » 30 Oct 2007 13:07

It's easy to understand the confusion about when this particularly brutal form of punishment finally met it's end. Villaphan was correct in both dates. In 1868 by an act of Parliament flogging was outlawed for troops on HOME SERVICE, however, the practice continued overseas as field punishment until finally abolished in 1881. Yes, Mark, it definitely would have been employed during the Zulu War, the publicity over the outrageous number of flogging instances during that war propelled it's complete abolution. Flogging was at it's worst during the Napoleonic Wars as it could be administered for almost any infraction and was liberally. The number of strokes were not limited so this could be assigned at the whim of the court-martial (500 lashes were not unheard of and almost certainly meant death). It was civilian reformers who actually took an interest in changing this barbaric practise. After the Crimean War "softening" of the worst aspects of the Wellingtonian regime did occur and by the time of Victoria's accession the number of strokes permitted had been reduced to fifty. In 1867 flogging was restricted to serious crimes only, such as mutiny. In case you are wondering the replacement for flogging was "Field Punishment No. 1, in which a man was tied to the wheel of a gun carriage for a specified period." There were many other, almost mediaeval forms of punishment available to the military during this period. For instance the practise of tattooing deserters under the arm with the letter "D" by using a iron tool with pins attached to the head was only discontinued in 1871. Ay, it was a man's life in the British Army!
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Re: Abolition of Flogging

Postby Geoff » 28 Nov 2007 20:10

hickspasha wrote: For instance the practise of tattooing deserters under the arm with the letter "D" by using a iron tool with pins attached to the head was only discontinued in 1871. Ay, it was a man's life in the British Army!


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Re: Abolition of Flogging

Postby Geoff » 29 Nov 2007 20:59

I'm currently reading a fascinating book by Richard Holmes called Sahib: The British Soldier in India. He has some interesting statistics with regards to the practice of flogging in India (some of this repeats what hickspasha has posted above but I think it's interesting nonetheless):

Flogging was in use in the British Army until 1868, though it could be administered for offences committed on campaign till 1881 and in military prisons till 1907. There was a steady decrease in both its frequency and severity. In the late 1820's the army flogged about one in fifty of its soldiers every year, and this had fallen to one in 189 by 1845. In 1807, 1000 lashes was established as a maximum, save in cases where the offender would otherwise have been executed, and this was reduced to 200 lashes in 1836, fifty lashes in 1847 and twenty-five in 1879. Flogging in India was more than usually controversial because it was abolished in the Indian army by Lord William Bentinck in 1835. For a ten-year period, until its restoration in 1845 by Lord Hardinge, British troops in India could be flogged but Indians could not...Flogging was administered in India to the very end of its legal existence. In Afghanistan in 1879 Charles MacGregor noted that: 'Our men gutted a village tonight against orders, so the provost-marshal flogged no less than 150 of them.' On 16 January 1880, the Reverend J.G. Gregson, a Baptist clergyman, was at Jelalabad: 'Before breakfast I saw a regiment parade to witness some of their men flogged for breaking into the canteen and stealing the rum.'

Richard Holmes, Sahib: The British Soldier in India, London: Harper Perennial, 2006. pp.430-432
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Re: Abolition of Flogging

Postby Mark » 29 Nov 2007 21:09

Geoff

Very interesting reading, I can't imagine what 1000 lashes would do to a man - kill him I guess. Brutal punishment at no mistake!

I wonder how many men died from flogging?

Mark
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Re: Abolition of Flogging

Postby berring » 05 Jan 2008 05:59

Mark,

In "The Victorian Army at Home" by A.R. Skelley (London, Croom Helm 1977) there is an extensive chapter on discpline and punishment in the Army. There is no reference to the abolition of flogging in the army at home in 1868. Instead it simply says that in 1868 flogging in peace time was limited to serious offences only (and only to soldiers with bad service records). In 1859 it had been limited to serious offences for all troops no matter their record. Also, at this time the number lashes had been reduced to an average of about 50 per offence (reduced again in 1879 to a maximum of 25 per offence). One reason for the change in 1868 was that a soldier had died in 1867 from receiving 50 lashes and there had been a public outcry. One possible reason for the confusion over abolition in 1868 may be that between 1868 and 1877 only 3 soldiers were flogged in total. By contrast, immediately previous to that date about 50 were flogged per year. This changed dramatically in 1879 when 545 soldiers were flogged (mostly in South Africa). This increased use spurred total abolition in 1881.

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Re: Abolition of Flogging

Postby David G. » 13 Mar 2008 21:15

An "Experimental Corp's of Riflemen" formed in 1800 ( The 95th of Foot)(Prince Consort's)( now Royal Green Jackets) abolished flogging as a form of punishment from the getgo. I have not found out what they did to replace fogging but I know tieing a guy to a cart wheel was a punishment. Was flogging a part of the Highland Reg's? or was it kept for the line infantry and sailors?
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Re: Abolition of Flogging

Postby mike snook » 22 Jun 2008 10:11

David

No longer Royal Greenjackets I fear. Now part of 'The Rifles'.

I didn't know that flogging was not practised in the Rifle Brigade (and am surprised to learn it), but otherwise flogging was universal and was certainly practised in Highland regiments, which are, by the way, line regiments.

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Re: Discipline: flogging and its abolition

Postby zerostate » 14 Jun 2010 12:36

I'm just ressurecting this thread to add what I know on the subject of flogging in the army...
Flogging was still a punishment in the British army in 1900. It was used in extreme cases on active service on board ship, or for disipline breaches in a military prison where 25 lashes of the cat or birch was the maximum, with 15 usual for a first time flogging.
I don't know when it was finally abolished, but since the birch was used in civillian prisons until the 1970s IIRC, it probably lasted a few years more.

References: Mr Thomas Aitkins, by E.J. Hardy (who was a colonel chaplain), 1900; and The Queen's Service, by Horace Wyndham (an ex-sergeant who was writing about all aspects of enlisted army life), 1899.

Chris

"Cookery is the art of preparing and softening food by the action of fire, so as to render it fit for digestion" - Instructions to Military Cooks in the Preperation of Dinners at the Instructional Kitchen, Aldershot, 1878.
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Re: Discipline: flogging and its abolition

Postby zerostate » 01 Jul 2010 23:45

I came across more in my researches - sorry for the double post, but I now have the definitive answer! :D

From Hansard, House of Commons debate 28 January 1913 vol 47 c1158:

16. Mr. KING
asked at what date flogging was abolished as a method of disciplinary correction in the Army; whether any demands have since been received from officers or others asking for its reintroduction; and whether, since the abolition of flogging, there has been any deterioration or improvement in the morale and discipline of the Army?

Colonel SEELY
Flogging was restricted by the Mutiny Act of 1868 to active service and to certain offences committed while under sentence in military prisons. Under the Army Discipline and Regulation Act, 1881, it was further restricted to military prisons and in 1906 corporal punishment in military prisons was abolished. No demands have been put forward by officers or others for the reintroduction of flogging. The general improvement of conduct in the Army during the last few years has been remarkable, but it is not possible to say whether that improvement is due to the abolition of flogging.

Mr. J. WARD
Of course it is."


There we have it!

Chris

"Cookery is the art of preparing and softening food by the action of fire, so as to render it fit for digestion" - Instructions to Military Cooks in the Preperation of Dinners at the Instructional Kitchen, Aldershot, 1878.
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Re: Discipline: flogging and its abolition

Postby mike snook » 02 Jul 2010 00:20

:lol: or Snook, Into the Jaws of Death, pp 53-4 - The Victorian Army in an Age of Transition. Absolutely - 1868 and 1881.

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Re: Discipline: flogging and its abolition

Postby zerostate » 02 Jul 2010 03:41

Looks like I'lll have to get your books after all Mike :wink:

1906 is the important date from my point of view, because I was looking at when it was abolished in military prisons.

Chris

"Cookery is the art of preparing and softening food by the action of fire, so as to render it fit for digestion" - Instructions to Military Cooks in the Preperation of Dinners at the Instructional Kitchen, Aldershot, 1878.
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Re: Abolition of Flogging

Postby Frogsmile » 18 Mar 2011 01:23

David G. wrote:An "Experimental Corp's of Riflemen" formed in 1800 ( The 95th of Foot)(Prince Consort's)( now Royal Green Jackets) abolished flogging as a form of punishment from the getgo. I have not found out what they did to replace fogging but I know tieing a guy to a cart wheel was a punishment. Was flogging a part of the Highland Reg's? or was it kept for the line infantry and sailors?


Although it's true to say that flogging was minimised as a routine punishment in the 95th it was not abolished. There are numerous cases of it being inflicted on riflemen of the Light Division in the Peninsular War, most infamously by General 'Black Bob' Craufurd who one one occasion stopped the division during the retreat to form a square to observe punishment. This is mentioned in numerous recollections of the time, such as by Rifleman Benjamin Harris (Recollections of a Rifleman), and Rifleman John Kincaid's (Random Shots from a Rifleman), to mention just two.
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Re: Discipline: flogging and its abolition

Postby jersey » 18 Mar 2011 05:04

My grandfathers pay book which was started in 1885, and from various marks was probably printed in 1883, mentions various
punishments that can be awarded, does not mention flogging at all. So, apart from the previous reference to military prisons being used until 1906 I guess that flogging had been abandoned at least by 1883.
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