The British army punished its soldiers mercilessly. The purpose was to inspire terror by setting an example. Soldiers were frequently whipped leading to the derisive moniker “bloody backs” by which Redcoat soldiers were frequently known. The most common offence was drunkenness, which could merit 100 lashes.
The sentence was carried out in front of the whole regiment. Stripped to the waist, the soldier was tied to the pillory. Lashes were given by a drummer and the drum major would even strike the drummer with a cane if he failed to whip the prisoner hard enough.
Because this spectacle was so distressing that many regiments made it a point of honor not to cry out in pain during lashings. A “Nightingale” is soldier who sings (cries) out at the halberds. To avoid doing so, a man would hold a bullet between his teeth and bite down, hence the term “bite the bullet.”
Liquid courage courage is another way to face the halberds. The “Stone Fence” is a smooth concoction of dark rum and hard cider garnished with a lemon twist. Be careful not to drink too much lest your comrades offer you a bullet to hold in your teeth.
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