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Eddie

Cat o' nine tails

Hello Chaps
Buglers and Drummers were required to carry out floggings under the supervision of the Bugle/Drum Major.
Was the insrument used merely a "cat" or a "cat of nine tails"? Did all "cats" have nine tails????

Does anyone know if a there was a regulation giving the dimensions and construction of a cat o'nine tails?

Or is it easier just to go to my local branch of "Deviants R Us"???
Matelot81

There is only the cat of nine tails shortened to cat
Length was about 30" with the first 12" plaited togeather
The tails were knotted at the ends and depending on the skill of the bosuns mate/drummer/bugler were very  good at tearing skin
Can't remember where I picked this up from,probably one of my old nautical manuals, but the cat was the same across both services
John Waller

Have a look at Barry Turnbull's website http://brtdesignportfolio.com/88th/website/drummersBRITindex.htm
for a description of one used by the Coldstreams. I don't think there was a regulation cat.
khazzard2000

This image from the 1840s is indicative of common practice.

http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/deta...y-flogging-the-news-photo/3093780
Eddie

Thanks John and Keiran
Looking at those images there looks to be a handle about 18"  but is that a solid piece or plaited rope?

I found this image on the net :


I wonder if its the Naval version which had a fancy rope handle - matelots being good at knots and such like- perhaps the Bosuns mate would knock one up in a make and mend period?

Does anyone know how to make one?
John Waller

Eddie wrote:
Thanks John and Keiran
Looking at those images there looks to be a handle about 18"  but is that a solid piece or plaited rope?

I found this image on the net :


I wonder if its the Naval version which had a fancy rope handle - matelots being good at knots and such like- perhaps the Bosuns mate would knock one up in a make and mend period?

Does anyone know how to make one?


I think Barry mentioned drum sticks used as handles.
Obadiah

You lot are beginning to scare me. You'll be next asking about period gimp masks and hob nailed high heals.

Dave
silver shilling

If a flogging was not a rare occurence, has any body thought of a way of portraying this?  joe public would, I'm sure, find it interesting!!lol

Perhaps concealing ketchup in the hollow 'tails' to represent the cuts!!
Ben Townsend



Through image from Haythornthwaites, The Armies of Wellington, apparently occupation picture (Lami?)
Paul Biggin

silver shilling wrote:
If a flogging was not a rare occurence, has any body thought of a way of portraying this?  joe public would, I'm sure, find it interesting!!lol

Perhaps concealing ketchup in the hollow 'tails' to represent the cuts!!


I'm going to make a Cat and get the wife to whip me with it, cant wait  q8
Ben Townsend

There was a flogging conducted at Waterloo 2010 I believe. The miscreant wore a shirt with a blood vest underneath, it was quite effective. I'd like to see a soft whip with blood tubes in it to release gore on striking, then it could be done without a shirt. Heres a question: if line regiments used serjeants' halberds/spontoons for a triangle, what do the Rifles use instead?
Eddie

Found another image of two "Cats" - dating to 1840 - the large one with green baize handle attributed to Royal Navy - the smaller wooden handled one apparently Army - theese were at a surgeons college in Edinburgh and image credited to National Museums Scotland.



 

There would appear to be variance in construction of "cats"- I can't work out how the cords can be securely attached to the wooden handled one.
From what I can glean from the 'net the cords are actually "whipcord" and look to be hemp?

Any ideas where I can source "whipcord"?
Ben Townsend

"Cat o' ninetails, a whip with nine knotted cords, with which the British soldiers and sailors are punished. Sometimes it has only five cords."

A new and enlarged Military Dictionary, Charles James, 1810.
Eddie

ben wrote:
There was a flogging conducted at Waterloo 2010 I believe. The miscreant wore a shirt with a blood vest underneath, it was quite effective. I'd like to see a soft whip with blood tubes in it to release gore on striking, then it could be done without a shirt. Heres a question: if line regiments used serjeants' halberds/spontoons for a triangle, what do the Rifles use instead?


What was used instead? Have a look at this:

"The Regimental companion" 1811 Charles James vol 1   7th edn referring to a regiment on the march:

"As the triangles, or instruments contrived for the purpose of punishing those men who have been tried and found guilty by a regimental court martial, usually accompany the first division, or head-quarters; much inconvenience arises from the want of them in the succeeding companies, should the commanding officer be reduced to the unpleasant necessity of putting a sentence into immediate execution—especially on the road, after a drum-head court-martial. When example requires the summary execution of such a sentence, the deficiency in question may be readily supplied, by a ladder placed against a tree; or in the hollow of a stona or lime quarry, round and above which the men of the division maybe easily filed to prevent interruption and idle curiosity. Cats with nine tails ought to be provided for the drummers of each division, previous to a march"

It would appear that " the triangles or instruments" are not Sjts pikes in this case - was there a portable ready made triangle?
Ben Townsend

Green Book, or Regulations for the Rifle Corps, 1800, article VII, punishment,

"The Bugle-Major will procure his cat-o'-nine-tails from the Quarter Master Serjeant, for which he will pay the sum of 1s, and which sum he will charge against the punished soldier's accounts of the muster. The cats are always to be returned to theQuarter Master Sergeant after use, each time of punishment; the Quarter Master Sergeant will be answerable that they are made of cord of a thickness never less than what is usually called penny cord."
Paul Biggin

ben wrote:
Green Book, or Regulations for the Rifle Corps, 1800, article VII, punishment,

"The Bugle-Major will procure his cat-o'-nine-tails from the Quarter Master Serjeant, for which he will pay the sum of 1s, and which sum he will charge against the punished soldier's accounts of the muster. The cats are always to be returned to theQuarter Master Sergeant after use, each time of punishment; the Quarter Master Sergeant will be answerable that they are made of cord of a thickness never less than what is usually called penny cord."


I will bring some rope to Kelmarsh and make a Cat, if time allows, however I will not be on the receiving end of it
Eddie

And more from Charles James' "Regimental companion" :

"Punishments sentenced to the soldiers are inflicted by the drummers of the regiment. They are to have cats with nine tails, made of twisted, cord, ready for that purpose, and in good order. In some regiments, the man who is punished pays the drummers for their cats. In others, they are charged to the regimental stock-purse; out of which the triangles are paid."

So does this imply that "Triangles" could mean an actual piece of apparatus not just Sgts pikes lashed together ?

A few more images from the 'net. Note what seems to be a "triangle" - picture credit - NSW Education :



Gunner Argent's cat - Navy - 1880s  - 50cm handle , 61cm Hemp cords. Picture credit - South Australia Maritime Museum :




A cat at National Maritme museum 1866 - 79 :
Ben Townsend

Might be worth contacting the Victory museum? Their research is generally pretty good, and they display this replica georgian cat, replete with baize bag, on The Old Girl,








Eddie

Ben
Thanks for the images from the Victory.

From what I can gather a Naval cat was a heavier article than the Army one - the cords being 1/4" thick - which is borne out from the Victory images.  This may be the reason that there seems a great disparity between the two services in the number of lashes regularily awarded.

The Naval number of lashes was supposed to be a maximum of 12 for each offence and awarded in batches of twelve see :

http://www.cnrs-scrn.org/northern_mariner/vol09/nm_9_1_53to66.pdf

This refers to punishment in three vessels 1770s -90s and averages out about 15 - 17  lashes per man

The average Army number of lashes seems to be about 200!

You quoted from the Green Book that  "Pennycord " was used  - I can't find a definition for that but I think the Army used thinner cord than the Navy and was a lighter form of Flogging.
Ben Townsend

Very interesting article Eddie. I was certainly under the misimpression that naval sentences for flogging were far heavier- numbering in the hundreds. Perhaps this misapprehension stems from popular literature picking up on the naval histories that used to emphasise rule by the lash.

Here is an extract from a 2/95th punishment roll for 1812 to whet your whistle, spot the famous name!


Eddie

Oh ho - the redoubtable Tom Plunkett in trouble again!

I found a nice bit of research on flogging here:

  :http://www.fusiliersinspain.com/research/armylife/flogging.html

this quote from Private O' Neil - believe he was 28th Foot:

"A triangle was erected, composed of three poles, fastened at the top with an iron bolt. To two of these the legs and hands of the sufferer are designed to be fastened, while a board is placed across for the breast to lean upon. The troops were then marched out, and formed a large hollow square around the place of punishment. I was then brought to the place, under guard of a file of soldiers, commanded by an officer. My clothes were so far removed as to leave me naked to the waist, and I was bound to the triangle. Turning to the first soldier on the file, the officer directed that he should proceed to duty. He laid aside his coat, and applied twenty-five lashes, with the cat-o’-nine-tails, to my back. These blows were counted by the officer. After twenty-five had been applied, I was asked if I would give up; I answered, ‘No!’ The blood was already flowing freely from my back, yet I resolved to die rather than submit to what appeared to me so unjust a requirement. The next soldier then took the lash, and struck twenty-five times. Again the officer asked if I would yield, and received the same reply; and this was continued until the whole three hundred had been inflicted. I was then taken down, more dead than alive, and sent to the hospital to be cured of my wounds, -- a process usually requiring from six weeks to three months. The cat--the instrument with which this punishment is inflicted--is composed of nine small cords, twisted very hard, and having three knots on each cord; sometimes the ends of these knots are bound with wire. The whip is usually about eighteen inches long, and the handle fifteen" (O’Neil 1851, 47-4Smilie_PDT.
Eddie

Found this on National Army museum inventory:

Whip, 1850 (c); Cat O'Nine Tails with a rough hewn wood handle; a leather loop is lashed to three notches in the side; nine whipcord strands, each knotted three times at the end; associated with the 38th (1st Staffordshire) Regiment. Equipment, general 1966-03-17


And this from Sgt Lawrence who was sentanced to 400 for going AWOL in Spain:

"The guards brought me to the square of the convent where my sentence was to be carried out and where the regiment was already assembled to witness my punishment. The judgement was read over me by the colonel and I was ordered to strip. Hardened by that time, I did so without the help that was offered and was lashed to the halberds. The colonel gave the ordered for the drummers to commence. Each drummer gave me 25 lashes in turn. I bore it well but, by the time I had received 175, I became so enraged with pain that I pushed the halberds. They were only planted on stones and did not stand firm so I moved them right across the square amid the laughter of the regiment."
Eddie

Here one apparently original which may have appeared on a certain auction website last year - supposedly US Navy. I didn't think they flogged ?













The strands of cord have become detached - the construction method can be seen - channels have been carved in the head to accomodate the cord and also anchored in by a hole right through.
terry1956

reply

hi, the americans did not use the cat at all. In the british navy the chap was given the makings and had to tie the cat himself ( a bit of a wake up call). I have the military general service medal of a guardsman who got 700 lashes for being drunk on duty and hitting his sergeant. The guardsmen lived and died in Canada years later. michael
John Waller

Re: reply

terry1956 wrote:
hi, the americans did not use the cat at all. In the british navy the chap was given the makings and had to tie the cat himself ( a bit of a wake up call). I have the military general service medal of a guardsman who got 700 lashes for being drunk on duty and hitting his sergeant. The guardsmen lived and died in Canada years later. michael


I'm afraid they did Terry. The Yanks didn't end flogging of enlisted sailors until 1850. There is plenty on literature about it including a treatice for it's retention.
terry1956

I stand corrected

well I always had in my head that the Americans and French never used the cat. I stand corrected. Thanks for the heads up we learn something new each day if we our lucky. michael

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