13 September 2011

Sir Hardinge And The Vindication Of Major John Richardson

 I first encountered the name Sir Henry Hardinge (1785-1856), who succeeded the Duke of Wellington as the commander-in-chief of the British Army, in a book by Major John Richardson.  The influential Hardinge had known Major Richardson's father (and presumably Major Richardson) when they both served in the Queen's Rangers circa 1798.  Perhaps the camaraderie between the elder Richardson and Hardinge helped Major Richardson a few decades later.

When Major Richardson was embroiled in controversy stemming from his participation with the British Legion in the First Carlist War in Spain, Sir Hardinge stood up for him.  Apparently General George de Lacy Evans and others had a vendetta against Richardson. Richardson, an author and journalist in addition to being a soldier, may have exacerbated the situation when he published "Movements Of The British Legion...".

 From Major Richardson's War of 1812 book:

The affairs of Spain were made the subject of a debate in the British House of Commons on the motion of Sir Henry Hardinge. In this debate the opportunity was seized by [Morgan?] O'Connell and some other members to attack [Major John] Richardson, but his character and conduct were clearly vindicated. His cause was championed by Captain Boldero and Sir Henry Hardinge, the  proposer of the motion. It would be exceedingly unfair even to hint  that anything but justice could influence a man of the integrity and  noble character of Sir Henry Hardinge, but his interest in Richardson in this connection may have arisen from his kindly remembrance of Richardson's father when they served in the same regiment. Sir Henry Hardinge began  that military career which shone so brilliantly at Albuera and at  Ferozshuhr, as an ensign in the Queen's Rangers in 1798 in Upper Canada,  when Dr. Richardson was assistant surgeon of the same corps.

Major Richardson was referred to as the "Canadian Don Quixote" in this publication.  [See the link for details of Major Richardson's troubles]

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