Proceedings of a Court Martial of long-AWOL Confederate soldier that imposed punishment which would be considered cruel and unusual today. Trial of Isham Stone.

Proceedings of a Court Martial of long-AWOL Confederate soldier that imposed punishment which would be considered cruel and unusual today

Camp near Kenston, North Carolina: 1863. Unbound.

This three-page summary of the proceedings of a Confederate Army Court Martial is dated “28th July 1863.” The document is in nice shape. Transcript provided. Images in this listing not included.

The proceedings document the trial of Isham Stone, a Private in the 50th North Carolina Infantry, who had been “absent without certification” for nine months after being discharged from an army hospital at Petersburg, Virginia. Stone pleaded guilty, and was sentence to what today would be considered cruel and unusual punishment:

"And the Court do therefore sentence the said prvt Isham Stone Co 'B' 50th Regt N.C.T. to be bucked and gaged four hours each day for twenty days, with a stick ¾ of an inch in diameter, two hours in the morning and two in the evening and be compelled to walk the Guard line around the camp before the sentinels at the point of a bayonet with a 'Barrel Shirt' on, for five days, two hours in the morning and two in the evening of each day, and be closely confined during the execution of the sentence.”. Very good. Item #009592

Bucking and Gagging was a tortuous punishment. A soldier was forced to sit on the ground and bring his knees up to touch his chest. His arms would be wrapped around his legs and tied together with his ankles. Then a rough rod would be inserted under his knees and over his arms. The pain was excruciating. Finally, the soldier was gagged, usually with a stick or bar forced between his jaws like a horse’s bit and tied tightly behind his neck. This was done both to cause more pain and to partially muffle his screaming. Upon release, any movement of the legs was almost as painful as being bound, so to stagger around a camp’s perimeter in a “barrell shirt” at bayonet point must have been equally agonizing. This punishment was usually reserved for deserters who were not sentenced to execution, and it made a vivid impression of other members of the unit. (A less painful version was used for less serious offenses during the Mexican War; see p 394, Dolph’s Sound Off! Soldiers Songs.)

Barrel shirts are exactly what they sound like. A prisoner would have a large heavy barrel lowered over his head and onto his shoulders.

Manuscript records kept by Confederate court martial boards are decidedly uncommon, and ones imposing bucking and gagging and barrel shirts are rare. At the time of listing, other than this example none are for sale in the trade or have appeared at auction per the Rare Book Hub and Worthpoint. OCLC shows none held by institutions.

Price: $1,000.00

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