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Discipline on the Ship


Martha's Vineyard Museum

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About this artifact

This etching by A. A. Von Schmidt depicts a crew member being flogged by the captain while other members of the crew watch. This illustration was published in J. Ross Browne's 1846 book, Etchings of a Whaling Cruise.
J. Ross Browne gives a very vivid description of a flogging in his account of his experiences whaling in the 1840's. In this account the captain is punishing two crew members for fighting but is also very clear with the crew that it should serve as a warning to them. " "Now," said the captain, "you've been fighting, and I'll flog you both. Mr. D. (first mate), seize those men up!" Jack's wrists were lashed to a ratlin on the starboard side, and Bully's to a ratlin on the starboard. The captain then provided himself with a piece of tarred ratlin, and, striding up to Bully, bared the man's back. "Remember, now, this is for fighting." "Oh, for God's sake, don't flog me, captain!" said Bully, sensible of the degradation of the punishment about to be inflicted on him. "Not a word!" said the captain, whose blood was boiling with passion. Take that! and that! and that! Do you feel it? Will you fight again?" Poor Bully groaned and writhed with agony. Each stripe of the ratlin raised a blood-red mark on his back. "I'll show you how to fight!" roared the captain, swinging the ratlin over his shoulder, and raising the stripes with every blow. "I'll make an example of you! Take warning, all of you. You see what you get for fighting. If that ain't enough, I'll lay it on heavier next time. I'll skin your back worse than that! Cut him down now! See if he'll behave himself!"

c. 1846
A. A. Von Schmidt

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