Archive / Papers / Hardy, S.A. Papers


Small Collections box 13

Colonel S.A. Hardy. Served in a regiment of the Bengal Native Infantry and Artillery during Mutiny and commanded a wing of the Regiment against mutineers of the Jodpore Legion; Assistant Adjutant-General to Rajpootana Field Force 1857-58; regimental duty with 21st Hussars 1861-69, joining as senior Captain and leaving as senior Major; Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel 1869 and honorary Colonel on retirement in 1870.

Transcripts of letters from Colonel Hardy to his wife in England, April-June 1863. Transcripts copied and kindly supplied by Mr R.G. Barton.

These letters, sent from Muttra and Agra in the North West Provinces, appear to have been written at a difficult point in Colonel Hardy’s career. There seem to be three distinct reasons which account for the somewhat depressed tone of the letters.

In the first place, Hardy was without his wife who had returned to England to be with the children. He was anxious for her early return, planned for that autumn. The letters discuss in considerable detail the arrangements for the care of the children and for Mrs Hardy’s journey. Hardy clearly felt inadequate without his wife’s presence. He stresses his need for her support and organising powers. Although the letters are filled with army gossip and details of his dining companions he concludes that ‘mess is simply a continuation of the day’s grind’.

The second reason for Colonel Hardy’s unhappiness arose from the generally depressed state of morale in his regiment of the Hussars. ‘Officers seem to have lost their pride in the regiment.’ He blames this on the clumsy actions of his superior officer, named as Curtis. Trouble in the barracks one night had been badly handled and appeared to be mutiny. As a result the Commander-in-Chief had instituted a general court-martial when a regimental court-martial was all that was needed. Hardy reports that the business had reached the press. The holding of the court-martial forms a background to these letters.

Hardy’s final concern was money. He does not regret having left his native regiment. ‘For the officers, except the Commandant and his adjutant, the life is pure vegetation, or rusting rather, except on the frontier where we had patrolling, and magisterial work…’. Nonetheless life in the Hussars had not so far proved a paying proposition. It was not possible to survive without private means of some sort. ‘Look at me, after 23 years of it, and never a gambler or extravagant, I have not at the present moment £100 to put my hand on.’ Hardy was attracted by the idea of life in New Zealand though he realises he was now too old to be a successful settler. The main hope was that promotion would soon come and with it financial improvement. 14ff.