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Discipline in the Age of Sail

Discipline in the Age of Sail - gained the love and...

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The Ineffectiveness of Harsh Punishment by Midn. Katie Davidson, USN Asst. Prof. Hsieh HH 104 Section 5003 31 August 2009
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Discipline was of the utmost importance on a ship in the Age of Sail. Harsh punishments, such as flogging, mastheading, and lashings were considered the only effective ways of maintaining discipline. However, these harsh punishments were not altogether necessary. The effectiveness of the crew depended heavily on the leadership skills of the captain. The captain essentially held “absolute power” over his crew and “was responsible for his ship and all who served on her” (9). The most cohesive crews, such as those of Captain Nelson and Lord Collingwood, were lead by “ideal captains who, while martinets in discipline
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Unformatted text preview: gained the love and affection of their men by their well-tried courage, their abilities, and their solicitude for the comfort of those who served under them” (9). Several captains justified flogging the whole ship’s company in a futile attempt to encourage discipline, but it tended to have adverse effects. Flogging, in general, “had a degrading effect all around… it broke the heart of a good man [and]… rendered a bad one only callous” (18). Good leaders were able to motivate their ship’s company to work with skill and precision without the threat of a dozen lashes. Word count: 194...
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