Meticulous was the preparation. Horrifying, the execution.
As an officer and, no doubt, a gentleman, it behooved Captain Swayne to take all necessary precautions when administering the…technique. He and his assistants – men of the North Cork Militia – clad their bodies in the very latest protective garb to ensure that none of the boiling hot substances should harm them during the process. The object of the whole affair was, after all, to inflict suffering on the prisoner – not themselves.
Once the pitch or tar had reached a suitably scalding temperature, Swayne had the honour of pouring it onto the subject’s head. Well…not directly onto the subject’s head as such. The Captain’s assistants would have attached a linen cap around the poor unfortunate’s head, and this crown of sorts was conically-shaped so as to hold the liquid in place. After the mixture had cooled sufficiently, the cap was torn from the suspect’s head – taking with it a significant portion of the skin and tissue underneath.
Other methods had been inflicted, of course; flogging, half-hanging, picketing, dunking, nail-pulling… However, these were mild tortures when compared to the agony of this ‘pitch-capping’. The short, cropped hair of the rebels lent itself quite adequately to this action, providing as it did a sort of guide to where best the cap should be affixed.
Once all the skin and hair was ripped from the skull, the top of the head most closely resembled a clear-cut wood. Indeed, the effect was similar to that of the infamous scalping which both colonists and natives inflicted upon eachother in the Americas. The searing pitch had, at one ancient time or other, been poured into a victim’s orifices…but this often resulted in immediate death, and so was quite useless as a form of non-lethal torture.
Even this vicious cruelty did not distract the diligent Captain Swayne from the possibility of escape. Thus, he made sure to have one of the target’s ears cut off, so as to make identification easier. Should the individual break free from captivity, militiamen could readily discover the well-marked escapee in the surrounding area.
Suffice it to say that Captain Swayne attained all the required information regarding rebel movement in and around the area of Eastern Ireland, and the people of Prosperous were no longer terrorised by the so-called ‘United Irishmen’. The Wexford Rebels would be the next target, and the men of the North Cork Militia had all the tools with which to deal with them.
Civilization itself was at stake – the barbaric savagery of the croppies and their ilk could not be allowed to threaten the noble forces of law and order.
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…