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HADNALL AND ITS LINK WITH WATERLOO

HADNALL is the resting place of one who played his part in the making of English history, Wellington’s right-hand man at Waterloo, General Rowland Hill. Though the house in which he died has gone, the wooded grounds of Hardwicke Grange are still to be seen outside the village; and here under the church tower he lies, his monument near the screen. The sculptor has fashioned a Lifeguardsman leaning on his carbine, a shepherd with his crook, and the British lion between them. Carved with the General’s arms are his three orders and six medals.

Rowland Hill, one of three bearers of that famous name; nephew of one and no kinsman of the other, was Wellington’s right-hand man in the overthrow of Napoleon. The soldier’s uncle was the famous preacher; the Penny Post man was of another family. Born in 1772 at Prees Hall near Hawkstone, he was one of 16 children, of whom five brothers served in the Army. He distinguished himself at the siege of Toulon and in the Egyptian expedition of 1800. Between intervals of active service he was in Scotland and Ireland raising and disciplining men with whom he was to win fame.

Throughout the Peninsular War he was the mainstay of Wellington. He was with Sir John Moore at Corunna, where he saw the last wounded aboard before embarking himself, an act which bought him honour from Parliament, and a statue in Shrewsbury rivalling Nelson’s in Trafalgar Square. During the campaign of 1811 he won a magnificent victory over the French, effected by a night march through storm and mire and an attack in the morning while his Highlanders piped “Hey Johnny Cope, are ye waking yet?”. This led to a great haul of prisoners with the entire camp equipment. Another triumph, entirely his own, was the victory of Almarez, which brought him a peerage. He added to his laurels at Vittoria, at the Passage of the Nive, at Orthez and at Toulouse; each a vital blow to Napoleon.

During the Hundred Days of 1815 Hill was early in the field again, helping to lay the foundation of the final victory to come. At Waterloo he covered the right wing of the general line, and when Napoleon’s Imperial Guard made its charge he placed himself at the head of his troops and led the crucial attack on the enemy flank. His horse shot under him, he was down and lost for a quarter of an hour and given up for dead. Second in command to Wellington during the occupation of Paris, he exercised over the victorious troops the moderating influence characteristic of him at all times.

During Wellington’s Premiership Hill was Commander-in- Chief, and under successive ministries he presided at the Horse Guards. He died in 1842, and among his bequests were annuities to three men charged with the upkeep of his remarkable monument in Shrewsbury, one of the highest columns in the Western countryside.

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