Popular Punishments

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MAN OVERBOARD

This form of punishment is fairly self-explanatory. The accused is simply tossed
off of the moving ship and left for dead. A common variation to this theme is for
the accused to be towed by a rope behind the ship until he dies from hypothermia
and exhaustion.

MAROONING

This punishment usually consisted of leaving the accused stranded on a small,
deserted island or a tiny raft to die. Many times the accused was left with a small
pistol in order to kill himself before he was eaten by sharks or perished from
sunstroke or starvation. (Suicide was considered a more honorable death to the
pirates.) Marooning was the popular choice of punishment for deserters.

CAT O' NINE TAILS

This flogging technique is frequently referred to as Moses's Law (40 stripes lacking
one). The name comes from the number of lashes that Jesus receives from Herod
in the Bible. The quartermaster is the only individual who administered floggings
with the cat o' nine tails, and it was frequently used as punishment for striking other
crewmembers, or other less heinous crimes. This was one of the few punishments
that did not lead to death, though it was quite barbaric. The cat o' nine tails was
usually an unwound rope whip of nine strands, the ends of which varied. Sometimes
the ends were tarred nots, and sometimes fish hooks or musketballs
were placed on the end to inflict more pain on the accused. After the beating, the raw
skin was sometimes covered with salt and vinegar for further punishment.

DUNKING

This punishment entailed being endlessly dunked in the ocean and alternately suspended above the ocean for hours. It wasn't as popular as the other punishments.

 

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