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BOTD 7/28/17 "BFTP -- 1808 -- A Delicate Case of Indecent Behavior" An Anonymous Production

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David M. Katz

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Marshall
Blast From The Past - 1808 -A Delicate Case of Indecent Behaviour
An Anonymous Production

You are the thirty year old post captain of a 36 gun Frigate in the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars...


Your New Command
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You have just lately been appointed to your command. You harbour no illusions, although you are a competent officer, you have less than three years seniority and would normally have been given a much smaller sloop-of-war more befitting to someone of your age.

The reason you have been given such an important command is because you accepted Augustus into your ship as a midshipman:



Augustus, Atet. 13
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(It indicates the wealth of his family that a portrait of the thirteen year old in his uniform was commissioned)

He's a bit of a handful, and a more senior officer commanding a 74 gun ship of the line decided that his crew would be better off without the youngster; very shortly afterward, that particular officer found himself ordered to the St. Lawrence station, just in time for a Canadian winter.

Your third lieutenant has brought the lad, and another boy who was a graduate of the Royal Naval Academy, to see you. Apparently he found the two boys engaging in an 'indecent act' together in the cable tiers. He's not sure what to do, so he's dropping the delicate issue on you.

Technically, both boys are now subject to a courts martial and dismissal from the service; practically, this was rarely done with youngsters and the matter would be usually be handled as an internal matter of shipboard discipline. The last time something like this happened, both of the miscreants ended up 'kissing the gunner's daughter' - that is, lowering their trousers and bending over the breech of a cannon to be birched; you quietly arranged for both young officers to be transferred to other (different) ships afterward.

This situation is difficult, however, because of Augustus' very high status. Mishandling this issue could leave you permanently beached on half pay;you are well aware of this and all. The difficulty won't arise with the King's Letter Boy from the Naval Academy since the boy is a middle class nobody; unless he or his parents decide for some reason to kick up a stink over it (they would be most unwise to do this).

Anyway, the options open to you are:

1) Stoppage of grog for a period of time (yes, 13 year old boys received a rum ration). This is the most lenient option and might occasion some talk if word of the transgression gets out among the crew...

2) Mastheading - sending a boy to sit in the crow's nest for some length of time - usually long enough for him to get cold, tired, and very bored.

3) Going on watch and watch - extra watch  duties. This could be very onerous since boys were generally short of sleep in any case on watch.

4) Kissing the gunner's daughter. You'd have to decide how many strokes would be appropriate.

5) Two dozen with the cat-o-nine tails... this punishment was rarely, if ever, used on officers, and more particularly not on boys of any rank. Not recommended.

6) The nuclear option - a courts martial. This would probably result in both boys being cashiered, and would cause the maximum amount of attention to be drawn to the whole affair - something you probably don't want to do.


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David M. Katz

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Marshall
I think I have another option.

I will deal with the punishment privately in my quarters. I will secure a belt or strap and thrash each boy less his breeches.

Afterwards, the King's Letter Boy will be transferred to another vessel and I will keep a close eye on Augustus.


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Adric

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Cowboy
I'm going with the temporary grog stoppage.  I think that 13 year old boys should be able to survive for awhile without any rum, and maybe they will be slightly more sober and therefore less likely to engage in more indecent acts.  As for the word of this incident leaking out among the crew, I will tell my third lieutenant not to discuss the subject with anyone but me.

If word does leak out then the worst that can be said of me is that I am soft on indecent acts between 13 year old boys at sea, and I think I am more likely to survive that charge successfully than dire and unexplained repercussions from on high.  I know I was lucky to get this command and now that I have it I want to figure out how to keep it.

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Y Lee Coyote

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Deputy
Yes, young Augustus is definitely of high rank - his father is ADMIRAL Brine who is several steps up between the Lord Admiral and lowly me.  Tacit is most certainly called for.

I’m sure his father expected him to be subject to regular punishment and a routine punishment of kissing the gunner's daughter with a few strokes would be most appropriate.

The picture by the American artist Copley, incidentally, hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY.  http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/10527  He eventually became an admiral himself.

Y.

P.S. -- Stopping is grog is not a heathy thing to do.  Shipboard fare is limited and the grog provided nutrients.

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Jack

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Admin
I am the Captain of this ship, the Master under God, and not politics nor threat shall keep me from doing my duty. On the other hand, while the boys' sin is serious, mercy should be shown.

The boys will be called into my cabin for a thorough tongue lashing on the nature of their behavior. I will stress that they should be court martialed for this, and how much that would hurt their futures - and their families - if it happened. Instead, I will allow each of them to confess to the seargent at arms that they were engaged in actions harmful to moral, and visit the gunners daughter.


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StevieWeeks

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Trailboss
Stevie thinks that Anonymous, whoever he/she is, knew perfectly well who Augustus Brine was but deliberately didn't identify him as a real boy...

However, of course, Stevie may be wrong about that because he's very stupid and all...

pushkin

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Cowboy
It's mast-heading time.  Not together, of course, because that's what they would prefer, and it would give them the perfect opportunity for more experimentation, with only curious seabirds to watch them.

So while the KLB is reeling around getting cold and dizzy, I shall take the opportunity to examine Augustus more closely and discover how far he really likes this sort of thing.   Who knows what it may lead to?    A recommendation to his father?   Even promotion, stretching a point?   I had managed to get away with doing similar things in my youth as a salty and spunky midshipman, and I had never quite lost the taste for it....

cat

Kat

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Editor Extraordinaire
I like Pushkin's approach. cat

Kat

db105

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Trailboss
I will give them a talk on the inappropriateness of that behavior on a King's ship, and the dangers associated, Afterwards they will kiss the gunner's daughter for insolence. No need to publicize the true reason, and it is insolent to engage in "an indecent act" in my ship. Also, no need to make it brutal. A short punishment will be enough. They will be punished in my presence by the boatswain of the ship in the Captain's cabin, instead of upon deck, using the boy's cat.

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ivor

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Marshall
Can't send them to the masthead. I want no 'frigging in the rigging' on my ship!

Kissing the gunner's daughter would seem the appropriate action. Whether it can be done in my cabin depends on whether there is a gun there. If the cabin is at the stern then it could well have a stern chaser across which their sterns could lie. However, I think the punishment needs to be public as an example to others.

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MemoryMan

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Sherrif
My career is far more important than the peccadilloes of two midshipmen. (and so is my lieutenants)

I will thank the third lieutenant for his discretion bringing the boys to me, remind him of Augustus' status and ORDER him not to breathe a word of this to anybody.  Then I'll send him to procure a cane.

With the boys before me I'll be telling them that it is my duty to refer them a a Courts Martial and ask Augustus what his father's reaction will be about the disgrace this affair will bring on his family when it becomes public.  Then I'll inform them that I will be lenient and let them off with a severe thrashing on this occasion ONLY.

When the lieutenant returns the boys will strip and he can horse them whilst I administer twenty lashes.

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Peter_Z

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Wrangler
I think i'll do it somehow similar like MM
and use a cane in private too

Zac

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Cowboy
Both young gentlemen are probably no strangers to have their bare behinds thrashed, Augustus from public school and the other boy from the Naval Academy.

I will take opportunity to recommend the book 'The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy' by N.A.M. Rodger, a fascinating, and very readable, description of the the Royal Navy in the C18th and very early C19th.

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