[LMB] OT: Piracy, Evil Overbeings, etc.

Marna Nightingale marna at marna.ca
Tue, 03 Aug 2004 16:34:19 -0400

> At 10:49 08/03/2004 -0700, Dan Tilque wrote:
>> I mentioned midshipman in the next sentence that you snipped. I
>> wasn't sure if they were actually considered officers at the
>> time, since they had no commission yet.

They were officers, yes. At least in the sense that that was where they 
stood in the chain of command, i.e. the penalties for disobeying their 
orders applied and etc.

At least one English ship at the battle of the Nile was commanded by a 
mid -- who was 14 year old -- and he fought that ship for half of the 
battle. Did rather well.

But they were also usually between 12 and 19. If you were a mid at 25, 
or even 21, you were probably going to stay one.

The heirarchy was clear, but the social reality was that they were at 
one and the same time officers of the navy actively engaged in fighting 
a war and trainees, so there were a lot of oddities.

They made a very few ranks cover a lot of ground. "Midshipman" could be 
a 12 year old boy, or a 40 year old man who'd missed his chance to make 
Lieutenant.  The Articles of War assumed that they were fully 
functioning officers.

The social impact of having kids on a warship, be they crew -- ship's 
boys or officers -- mids -- was interesting in the extreme. On the 
whole, it was humanizing.

All jokes aside, men in groups can survive without women better than 
they can without a sense of *family*, and the youngsters on both sides 
of the mast were, from the letters and such that we have, very much 
little brothers and sons and students to the men who needed that in 
their lives, and usually everyone benefited from this.

None of which should be taken as me disclaiming my wholehearted support 
for the UN Convention on Child Soldiers, btw, but given that they did 
it, the effects were fascinating.