Lord Hardinge


Henry Hardinge, the son of the Reverend Henry Hardinge was born and died in Kent. During the Peninsular War he served as deputy to D'Urban, QMG to the Portuguese Army. He was highly regarded by the Duke of Wellington and served under him for many years both in the army and in Parliament. At Torres Vedras, The Duke asked Beresford to send '..Hardinge or some other staff officer who has intelligence, to whom I can talk about the concerns of the Portuguese Army.' And when Napoleon returned from Elba, Hardinge was given the task of placing himself as close as possible to Napoleon to keep Wellington appraised of his movements. At the battle of Ligny a stone driven up by a cannon ball smashed Hardinge's left hand so that it had to be amputated at the wrist. The treatment was poor and during the retreat to Wavre he suffered intense pain.

In politics, Hardinge was one of the Prime Minister's inner circle during the premiership of The Duke of Wellington. He was Secretary at War and later Irish Secretary. Wellington was criticised for running the government like a military campaign, employing his old army chums, like Hardinge, in the cabinet. When the Duke was accused in the press of infringement of liberties and introducing Popery, by Lord Winchelsea, a duel was arranged near Battersea Bridge with Hardinge as Wellington's second. Because he only had one hand, Hardinge was unable to load the pistols; this was done by Wellington's doctor, Hume. No-one was hurt in the affair.

As Governor-General of India, Hardinge re-introduced flogging as a punishment of sepoys and sowars. He forbade working on Sunday in government establishments and encouraged public education. He strongly advocated the building of the railways in India but this did not start until his successor, Dalhousie, took over. He took measures to prepare for a war with the Sikhs when it became clear that trouble was brewing on the other side of the Sutlej. The command of the British and Indian Army was given to Sir Hugh Gough and Hardinge decided to serve in a military capacity as Gough's second-in-command. However, he had to revert to his position of Governor-General to over-rule Gough's decision to move against the Sikhs at Ferozeshah without waiting for Sir John Littler's force of 10,000 men to arrive.

When the Duke of Wellington died in 1852, Hardinge took over command at Horse Guards, but it was a bad time to be in charge as the Crimean War fiasco of 1854-5 needed a scapegoat. Wellington had made little effort to modernise the army in the years between Waterloo and the Crimea, and Hardinge was so much in awe of the Duke that, when he took over he did not disturb the routine arrangements that had been sanction by his predecessor. The public were angry that the soldiers had suffered so much because of bad administration, poor supplies and health care, and Lord Hardinge was blamed. A year after he was promoted to Field Marshal he was struck with partial paralysis and obliged to retire. He died a few months later, aged 72 and buried in the church at Fordcombe where he laid the foundation stone on his return from India and which was built mostly through his generosity.

1775 March 30th, born in Wrotham, Kent.
1799 Ensign in Queen's Rangers, Upper Canada
1802 March 25th, Lieutenant by purchase in 4th Foot. On half pay.
1803 1st Royal Scots
1804 47th Foot
1805 Captain by purchase
1806 Royal Military College, High Wycombe
1807 DAQMG to Gen Brent Spencer
1808 Cadiz
1808 August 17th, Roleia.
1808 August 21st, wounded at Vimiera
1809 January, Corunna
1809 Major
1810 DQMG to Portuguese Army
1810 Douro, and Sep 27th, Busaco
1811 Lieutenant-Colonel.
1811 May 16th, Albuera
1812 April 6th, Badajoz
1812 July 22nd, Salamanca
1813 Severely wounded at Vittoria
1814 Feb, Commanded a Portuguese Brigade at storming of heights near Bayonne
1814 July, Transferred as Capt & Lieut-Col to 1st Foot Guards
1815 Liaison Officer at Blucher's HQ
1815 June 16th, Lost his left hand at Ligny
1816 - 1818 Commanded Prussian Contingent in Army of Occupation in France
1818 Nov, Prussian Order of Merit and presented with Sword of Honour by Wellington
1820 Entered politics as MP for Durham
1823 Appointed Clerk of the Ordnance
1826 Returned as MP for Durham
1828 June, Appointed Secretary at War by PM Wellington
1829 March 21st, Acted as Wellington's second in a duel with Lord Winchelsea
1830 Major-General
1830 MP for St Germans
1830 - 1832 MP for Newport, Cornwall
1830 July. Appointed Irish Secretary
1832 - 1844 MP for Launceston
1833 March 4th, Colonel 97th Foot
1834 Chief Secretary in Ireland
1841 Appointed Secretary at War in Peel Government
1841 Nov 22nd, Lieutenant-General
1843 May 31st, Colonel of 57th Foot
1844 Knight Grand Commander of the Bath (GCB)
1844 - 1848 Governor General of Indiav 1845 Dec 10th, Sikhs cross the Sutlej. Start of First Sikh War.
1852 Master General of the Ordnance as a General
1855 Field Marshal
1856 Sept 24th, Died at South Park, Tunbridge Wells, and buried at Fordcombe.


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by Stephen Luscombe