By James Harmon Ward, Sir Howard Douglas
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Extra info for A manual of naval tactics: together with a brief critical analysis of the principal modern naval battles
Anyone who seemed ﬁt enough for a seafaring life was dragged away, though occasionally members of his family or a sympathetic crowd would come to his rescue, not always successfully. Press gangs did not carry ﬁrearms or edged weapons on such excursions, apart from the occasional cutlass, and even then they were wielded more to intimidate than to cause harm. Clubs and belaying pins were, however, resorted to when necessary. Watermen and merchantmen were particularly sought after, as well as dockside labourers.
If a captain called a court martial, this body consisted of between ﬁve and 13 members. The procedure was similar to its civil equivalent on land, except that the members, who served in lieu of a jury, were all ofﬁcers – hardly a trial by one’s peers if the defendant happened to be an ordinary seaman. If the court martial found the accused guilty, ﬂogging, sometimes with hundreds of lashes, could result. The most draconian form was ‘ﬂogging round the ﬂeet’, by which the convicted party was rowed to every ship in harbour and given a speciﬁed number of lashes – sometimes with fatal consequences.
The captain was on deck in a moment, and ere it was well light, the signals were ﬂying through the ﬂeet to bear up and form the order of sailing in two columns. com With the bulkheads removed from his cabin and all other partitions down the entire length of the ship stowed in the hold – thus creating an unimpeded gun deck – the captain would issue general orders and might devote some time to write to his wife before conducting a tour of the ship, offering encouraging words and appealing to the men’s patriotism as he went.