Resource/Collingwood: Punishment of Midshipmen; the Collingwood Brothers

28 April, 2008 at 5:35 pm Leave a comment

From all we know today, Old Cuddy detested corporal punishment aboard his ships. If violence was the only way an man could upkeep discipline, then he considered it a weakness of the officer.

“(…) I cannot for the life of me, comprehend the religion of an Officer, who prays all one day, and flogs his men all the next. (…)”

That doesn’t mean he had such punishment banned from his ships all through his career, and he certainly had a firm hand with the midshipmen. Considering how spoilt some of the “young gentlemen” were, he didn’t hold this stance without reason. However, as the following report by Jeffery Raigersfeld, midshipman under Collingwood on the Mediator shows, Old Cuddy handed out punishments when they were justified; he never humiliated people, and even at this early stage of his career, he had already begun to develop a more efficient way of punishment that did not involve the cat or a cane. I’d call it “educational punishment”, in lack of a better term. Just like cutting off the pigtails of lazy midshipmen, ordering them to do the work of ship boys was a very clever move, and had certainly a deeper psychological impact than three lashes with the cat.

“(…) punishments of various kinds, invariably the result of just consideration, and encouragement was liberally affforded when this was deserved. The punishment included, for the ‘young gentlemen’, mast-heading, disrating, being turned before the mast, flogging, and being turned out of the Navy for good. (…)”

“(…) On board the Mediator [Raigersfeld continued], all these punishments were inflicted at various times; and one morning after breakfast, while at anchor in St. John’s Road, Antigua, all the midshipmen were sent for into the Captain’s cabin, and four of us were tied up one after the other to the breech of one of the guns, and flogged upon our bare bottoms with a cat-o’-nine tails, by the boatswain of the ship; some received six lashes, some seven, and myself three. No doubt we all deserved it, and were thankful that we were punished in the cabin instead of upon deck, which was not uncommon in other ships of the fleet.

“Some time after this another of the midshipmen and myself were put to mess with the common men, where we lived with them three months, performing all the offices of the ship boys such as cooking the victuals, standing the rank at the ship’s copper for the beef, burgoo and pease soup, and cleaning the mess platters. At first I was indignant at such treatment, but there was no help for it, therefore I quietly resigned myself to my fate, and I am very glad I was so placed, as it gave me a great insight into the character of seamen, and enabled me to govern them as well as their officers hereafter with advantage to themselves and the country. In so doing Captain Collingwood did his duty by me, as well as his country, and I was thankful he so took it into his head, for during those three months I gained more knowledge of the seamen’s character, than in all the other ships I have since served in during the trials I have undergone in my profession. (…)”

Raigersfeld also had the chance to observe and compare the Collingwood-brothers (while Cuthbert commanded the Mediator, Wilfred was in charge of the Rattler).

“(…) During our stay in the West Indies, Captain Cuthbert Collingwood had frequently under his command the Rattler sloop-of-war, which was commanded by his brother… The brothers resembled each other in nothing but their zeal for the service, which never relaxed, indeed when two ships were cruising together, I often thought that the sail the Rattler carried to keep her station with the Mediator, when a strong breeze blew and a lumping sea was going, that that small ship, a sloop-of-war, would be swamped; however the two brothers were always on good terms with each other when they met on boad the Mediator at dinner, though that was not often. Captain Cuthbert Collingwood was a reserved man, a good seaman and navigator, and well read in the English classics; and most heartily do I thank him for the care and pains the took to make me a seaman. (…)”

Excerpts taken from “The Life of a Sea Officer” by Jeffery Baron de Raigersfeld, edited by L.G. Carr Laughton (1929), pp. 35-6, quoted from “The Life and Letters of Vice-Admiral Lord Collingwood” by Oliver Warner (1968), pp. 24.

About these ads

Entry filed under: books, cuthbert collingwood, resource, royal navy. Tags: , , , .

Writing: The Balance between Facts and Fiction and Characters Behaving Badly Resource: St. Paul’s Cathedral, Collingwood, Nelson, Old Jerv and the waste bin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


FOLLOW ME!



Follow Me on Pinterest

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 320 other followers

MY LATEST BOOK

"THE RADIANT BOY"
Four Ghost Stories from the Age of Sail


Click here for a preview!
Click here to order!

RECOMMENDED AGE OF SAIL WRITING

EMMA COLLINGWOOD ONLINE

Love, Suspense and Sarcasm in the Age of Sail

ALEX BEECROFT
Adventure and Romance

OLD CUDDY - COLLINGWOOD 2010
Tribute to Admiral Lord Collingwood on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his death at sea

OFFICIAL COLLINGWOOD 2010 WEBSITE
2010 is the year to celebrate a great man.

LINKS

MOLLY JOYFUL'S LIST OF USEFUL RESOURCES
Royal Navy, general 18th century history, biographies, books, art etc.


JOYFUL MOLLY ON LIVEJOURNAL
Same entries as on wordpress, but with additional RNotC fandom content (icons, updates on fanfic, meta etc.) and discussion.

RECOMMENDED BLOGS

GARROW'S LAW
Maintained by Mark Pallis, Legal and Historical Consultant on the BBC show

THE OFFICIAL WEBLOG OF WOLFGANG AMADÉ MOZART
THE DUTCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE'S GOSSIP GUIDE TO THE 18TH CENTURY
ONE MORE STITCH
Reproduction and historic knitting inspired by original garments, objects and patterns from the past.

GILLRAY'S PRINTSHOP OF HISTORICAL ABSURDITIES
Being one amateur historian's exploration of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Blog Stats

  • 350,992 hits
site stats

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 320 other followers