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  • Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton was a decorated soldier of the British army, once

  • called by the Duke of Wellington “a rough foul-mouthed devil as ever lived.”

  • He was also a cruel man, a tyrant of the highest order.

  • After being made governor of the island of Trinidad in 1797, his rulership came with

  • brutality.

  • He tortured and killed slaves, and he made a fortune from selling slaves.

  • His cruelty knew no end, but it's what he did in 1801 that made him infamous.

  • That was the torture of a 14-year old girl, Miss Luisa Calderón.

  • She was subjected to the picquet, one of the most devilish tortures ever devised.

  • Let's stick with the Picton story for now and what happened to that poor girl, Luisa.

  • She had a rough start in life, sold by her mother for 2,750 joes to an old man named

  • Pedro Ruiz.

  • She was just 12 at the time, but Ruiz promised he'd marry the girl when she reached the

  • age of 16.

  • Her mother owned a coffee shop in Puerto de Espana, although historians point out that

  • many of these places doubled as brothels.

  • Ruiz was a repeat customer at the mother's place, which is how he first met Luisa.

  • Women's rights were unheard of back then.

  • Just to give you an example, one time an English soldier fell madly in love with a young slave

  • girl, and the two tried to elope.

  • They were both caught, and on the orders of Picton, she was summarily hanged.

  • The soldier was taken to Marine Square and whipped until the flesh fell from his bones.

  • Luisa was pretty much a slave herself, although a sex slave.

  • When Ruiz wasn't home, she had to stay in the house waiting for him.

  • During one of her lonesome days, another man, Carlos Gonzalez, made advances on her.

  • What happened next has been debated, but it seems Ruiz arrived home one day to find he'd

  • been robbed of most of his gold.

  • He blamed his young concubine for the crime, who he said was complicit.

  • Still, he might have concocted that story because he'd found out about Luisa's infidelity.

  • Other accounts say Gonzales stole the gold, and Luisa knew nothing about it.

  • Ruiz was known to Picton, so after he claimed a robbery had taken place, he visited him.

  • Luisa was subsequently taken to the royal jail, where shackles were placed around her

  • ankle with the torture chamber awaiting her.

  • The magistrate said, “Inflict the Torture upon Louisa Calderon.”

  • We found an official document from back then, which we think adequately illustrates the

  • brutality of the times.

  • Here is a snippet: “The girl was informed in the jail that

  • if she did not confess she would be subjected to the torture; that under the process she

  • might probably lose her limbs or her life, but the calamity would be on her own head,

  • for if she would confess she would not be required to endure it.

  • While her mind was in the state of agitation this notice produced, her fears were aggravated

  • by the introduction of two or three negresses into her prison, who were to suffer under

  • the same experiment as a means of extorting confession of witchcraft.”

  • Luisa pleaded her innocence on many occasions, but her words fell on deaf ears.

  • Picton signed off on the torture and she was later taken to the torture room.

  • The jailer, the magistrate, a man named Francisco de Castro, and the executioner were in the

  • room.

  • They tied her left wrist with a rope and attached it to a pulley system connected to the ceiling.

  • As she was pulled up, her foot was positioned on a piece of wood in a peg shape.

  • Her other arm and leg were both tied, and she was left there balancing on the peg.

  • She was only pulled up enough so she remained steady on the peg, so her full bodyweight

  • was driven against it.

  • This caused excruciating pain.

  • At first, she was left in that position for about 50 minutes, and would not confess to

  • the crime.

  • She was taken down only after almost passing out, but she spent another 22 minutes on the

  • peg when she came around.

  • Again, she didn't confess to the crime.

  • Nonetheless, she had her leg put in irons when she was finally taken down.

  • She stayed fastened to a wall in a cell for the next eight months.

  • Not once did she falter from her position of innocence.

  • Word got out about the torture, and petitions were sent from Trinidad to the King of England.

  • It turned out that what Picton had signed off on was not part of English law.

  • He was ordered to return to England to stand trial.

  • A newspaper ran the headline, “The Trial of Governor T Picton for inflicting the torture

  • on Louisa Calderon, a free mulatto, and one of his Britannic Majesty's Subjects, in

  • the Island of Trinidad.”

  • Picton was eventually acquitted after the defense argued that the torture was acceptable

  • under Spanish Law, which had previously been the law of the island.

  • This was a retrial, however, after he'd been found guilty at first.

  • It was a lengthy trial, but he could afford the court costs.

  • His slave-owning buddies and military friends helped him foot the bill.

  • He died a few years later at the now-famous Battle of Waterloo, when the English kicked

  • Napoleon Bonaparte's hind.

  • In battle, Picton charged forward, shoutingHurrah, hurrahand took a musket ball

  • to the side of his head.

  • As for the English newspapers, as always, two stories emerged from various publications.

  • Picton was described as either a maniacal brute of a man who'd ruled with an iron

  • fist, or he was an upstanding citizen who'd had his unblemished reputation tarnished by

  • somemulattogirl who'd stolen his gold.

  • One newspaper wrote this: “No pains were spared to sully his character,

  • to ruin his fortunes, and to render him an object of public indignation.

  • A little strumpet, by name Louisa Calderon, who cohabited with a petty tradesman in the

  • capital of Trinidad, let another paramour into his house during his absence, who robbed

  • him, with her knowledge and privity, of all he was worth in the world.”

  • We don't know what happened to Luisa.

  • She was in England for the trial, and it seems after she just disappeared into those dark

  • streets of London.

  • You might now be wondering why so many people called Picton out as a brute in such brutish

  • times, after all, back then, the English metered out obscene punishments on those accused of

  • various crimes.

  • In fact, not long before Picton took up his post in Trinidad, the English subjected a

  • man to the punishment of hanging, drawing, and quartering.

  • He was David Tyrie, accused of being a spy for the French.

  • This is how his execution went down: “His head was severed from his body, his

  • heart taken out and burnt, his privates cut off, and his body quartered.”

  • The 20,000 people in the crowd then fought over pieces of his body.

  • They wanted bits to use as trophies or souvenirs.

  • A few years later, a woman named Catherine Murphy was burned at the stake after being

  • found guilty of counterfeiting.

  • The public wasn't impressed, though.

  • Times were changing, and many people said they were fed up with seeing women burned.

  • When Jeremiah Brandreth went to the chopping block, the executioner hacked at his neck

  • clumsily, after which the crowd turned away in disgust.

  • Some booed.

  • Soldiers got ready for a riot.

  • With that in mind, what Picton did was seen as a remnant of an old order, an order now

  • looked on by many progressive folks as savage.

  • England was about to clean up its act, more so because of public sentiment than the establishment

  • suddenly growing warm hearts.

  • Picton reminded people of another era.

  • The crime also upset many folks because the victim had been a young girl, very likely

  • an innocent girl whose lack of money and social standing gave her no chance to fight the men

  • that had oppressed her.

  • The original form of picketing which served as inspiration for Picton was used against

  • soldiers when they had defied orders.

  • This was quite common in the 16th and 17th centuries, so when Picton tried it at the

  • beginning of the 19th century it was seen as anachronistic savagery.

  • The soldier would generally be tied to the nearest tree, his wrist hanging from a branch.

  • His foot would be placed on a peg much like the peg used against Luisa.

  • As it did with her, it would cause considerable pain, but the peg wasn't sharp enough to

  • draw blood and possibly result in an infection.

  • It just hurt a lot.

  • The soldier had nowhere to move.

  • He could pull himself up a little, but his wrist couldn't hold him up for long, so

  • the pressure on his foot was intense.

  • It was unbearable after a while, which is why the military threatened soldiers with

  • it.

  • There is another use of the word picket when we're talking about the military.

  • It means a group of soldiers posted in a forward line.

  • They're the ones who will give the warning if the enemy looks like it's about to attack.

  • This comes from the French word, piquet.

  • We use it these days when workers go on strike.

  • They join the picket line.

  • It seems after Picton did his picket redux, the punishment just vanished.

  • It seems strange that the military would consider it barbaric given that during the first world

  • war, a century later, 20,000 British soldiers were handed a death sentence for crimes.

  • In the end, most got hard labor or long prison sentences, but a firing squad gunned down

  • 306 young men.

  • One guy was just 17 years old.

  • Another young man was accused of being a “coward”.

  • This was his excuse, “I haven't been the same since I scraped my best friend's brains

  • from my face.”

  • Most of those executions were for desertion, and quite a few were for murder, but many

  • were for lesser crimes.

  • 18 men were executed forcowardice”.

  • 7 had their bodies filled with bullets forquitting a post without authority.”

  • Six were executed for striking a superior officer and five were killed for just being

  • disobedient.

  • 2 guys went to the firing line for falling asleep on duty.

  • Failing to perform on duty these days might get you a prison sentence of two years.

  • Hitting a superior officer could land you up to 10 years in prison, but we're not

  • sure a posh moron these days would be shouting orders knowing they would lead to mass slaughter.

  • Whatever the case, it's strange that the piquet was outed as being barbaric in the

  • past when worse was to come.

  • Now you need to watch, “Napoleon - The Deadly Emperor of Europe.”

  • Or, have a look at, “What Is Not Allowed In War?”

Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton was a decorated soldier of the British army, once

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Picquet Punishment - Worst Punishments in the History of Mankind

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    Summer posted on 2021/08/24
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