Drumhead trial

A drumhead court-martial is a court-martial held in the field to hear urgent charges of offences committed in action. The term is said to originate from the use of a drumhead as an improvised writing table,[1][2] as an altar for religious services, [3][4] or a traditional gathering point for a regiment for orders or decisions.[5]

The earliest recorded usage is in an English memoir of the Peninsular War (1807).[6] The term sometimes has connotations of summary justice, with an implied lack of judicial impartiality, as noted in the transcripts of the trial at Nuremberg of Josef Bühler.[7] According to Sir Arthur Wynne Morgan Bryant, such courts-martial have ordered lashings or hangings to punish soldiers (and their officers) who were cowardly, disobedient – or, conversely, acted rashly; and especially as a discouragement to drunkenness.[8]

See also

References

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