Statues and Monuments: Major-General Andrew Hay

Posted: January 20, 2016 in London, UK
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Andrew Hay was born in 1762 and enlisted in the army as an ensign at the age of 17. He saw action in the American War of Independence and was promoted to lieutenant in 1781 and Captain in 1783. In 1795 he was promoted to Major, transferred to the 93rd foot and saw service in the West Indies. In 1798 he returned home to Scotland and became a Colonel in the fencibles, a local defence force. In 1803 he returned to the regular army as commander of  a reserve battalion, before being promoted in 1803 to command the 2nd Battalion Highland regiment. briefly stationed in Ireland he was sent to support Spain and Portugal in the Peninsular War. He saw action on the retreat to Corunna and was evacuated back to the UK. he was back in the Peninsular  in 1810 seeing action at the battle of Bussaco, where he was promoted to Major-General. He took part in the battles of Salamanca, Vittoria and the siege of San Sebastian. Due to injuries he assumed command of the 5th Division during the battles of Bidasoa and the Nive.


Following the battle, news reached Wellington’s army, camped outside Bayonne, of the abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte as Emperor.  Hay was the duty officer that day and the first to receive the news, which everyone took to mean the end of the war. Despite also receiving the news of the abdication the Governor of Bayonne, who was later condemned for his action by both sides, chose to continue with his plans to break the seige and the following day led a raid on the Allied forces. Andrew Hay was killed leading his men in defence of the allied positions. He was buried in the church of St Etienne and a memorial was erected to his memory in St Paul’s Cathedral by the British Government.

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