Military Executions - 1812 War Era
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Author:  pud [ Sat Oct 21, 2006 1:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Military Executions - 1812 War Era

What caused such punishments (military executions) to occur? Well, here's a list:

1) Striking an Officer
2) Sleeping at your Post
3) Mutiny
4) Desertion towards the enemy
5) Corresponding with an enemy
6) Cowardice in battle

All of the above were considered to be traitorous or treasonable in nature.
What did an execution look like?
What follows is a description taken from:
The Peninsular and Waterloo Campaigns. E. Costello. London [England], 1852.

"As this was the first military execution I had ever witnessed, I felt not a little curiosity to see the forms pursued. A large trench had been dug as a grave for the wretched men who were to suffer. Along the summit of the little heap of mould that had been thrown up from the pit, the deserters were placed in a row, with their eyes bandaged, so that on receiving the fatal volley they should fall forward into the trench. Some of the poor fellos, from debility, were unable to kneel and lay at their length, or crouched up into an abtitude of despair, upon the loose earth.

The signal to the firing party was given by a motion of the Provost's cane, when the culprits were all hurried together into eternity, with the exception of one-man of the 52nd, who, strange to say, remained standing and untouched. His countenance, that before had been deadly pale, now exhibited a bright flush. Perhaps he might have imagined himself pardoned; if so, however, he was doomed to be miserably deceived, as the following minute, two men of the reserve came up and fired their pieces into his bosom, when giving a loud scream, that had a very horrible effect upon those near, he sprang forward into his grave. To prevent unnecessary suffering, a reserve firing party was brought up, who continued to fire wherever the slightest sign of life exhibited itself in the bodies, the Provost himself winding up the tragedy by discharging a pistol-shot through the head of each corpse.

After this very solemn and impressive scene, we were marched in column of companies round the dead, so that the spectacle might be witnessed by every man in the division."

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