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, as an altar for religious services,  or a traditional gathering point for a regiment for orders or decisions.
The earliest recorded usage is in an English memoir of the Peninsular War (1807). 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 Buhler. 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.
In popular culture
In Herman Melville's novella Billy Budd, the title character (a young sailor) was sentenced to death by a drumhead court for striking and killing the Master-at-arms on the HMS Bellipotent. This novella was adapted for stage, opera, film, and television performances.
This kind of court-martial is referenced in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Drumhead". Captain Picard compares the witch hunt-like investigation by Admiral Norah Satie to a drumhead trial.
References ^ Definition from ĖBrewer's Dictionary
^ An example of an illustration from the Thirty Years War showing a drum used as a table at military executions: 
^ Ėhttp://www.thisiskent.co.uk/letters/Scots-soldiers-parade-streets-Canterbury/article-538473-detail/article.html parade and drumhead service
^ Ėhttp://www.maybole.org/Community/organisations/british/maybole_branch_rbl_scotland.htm Drumhead Service at Culzean Castle
^ Ėhttp://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/Templates/LargeImageTemplate.aspx?img=/NR/rdonlyres/CB6226B7-22D6-4B0C-9FF7-008FF21A3916/0/CCT08127OUTUNC0210.jpg Her Majesty the Queen presents the RAF with the new colour at a Drumhead service, RAF Fairford. [Photo: Cpl Scott Robertson RAF]
^ 'Court martial, n. 1.b. drumhead court-martial', Oxford English Dictionary Online (2009), citing Sir Charles Shaw, Personal memoirs and correspondence, comprising a narrative of the war ... in Portugal and Spain (1837), II, 449.
^ ĖTranscript at tne Nizkor project
^ Years of Victory (1802-1812), Arthur Bryant, 1944
This legal term article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.
Legal term stubs
Informal legal terms
Update:Thispagewaslastmodifiedon26February2013at02:35wikipedia.org/wiki/Standret" title="Standret" lang="da" hreflang="dawikipedia.org/wiki/Standgericht" title="Standgericht" lang="de" hreflang="dewikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%91%D7%99%D7%AA_%D7%93%D7%99%D7%9F_%D7%A9%D7%93%D7%94" title="×××Ŗ ××× ×©××" lang="he" hreflang="hewikipedia.org/wiki/Standrett" title="Standrett" lang="no" hreflang="nowikipedia.org/wiki/Standgericht" title="Standgericht" lang="pl" hreflang="plwikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%92%D0%BE%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%BD%D0%BE-%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B9_%D1%81%D1%83%D0%B4" title="ŠŠ¾ŠµŠ½Š½Š¾-ŠæŠ¾Š»ŠµŠ²Š¾Š¹ ŃŃŠ“" lang="ru" hreflang="ruwikipedia.org/wiki/Kentt%C3%A4oikeus" title="KenttĆ¤oikeus" lang="fi" hreflang="fiwikipedia.org/wiki/St%C3%A5ndr%C3%A4tt" title="StĆ„ndrĆ¤tt" lang="sv" hreflang="sv
Acquisition date:2013/05/16 13:48