32nd (Cornwall) Regiment of Foot

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32nd (Cornwall) Regiment of Foot
Active 1702-1881

 Kingdom of England (1702-1707)  Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1801)

 United Kingdom (1801-1881)
Branch  British Army
Engagements War of Spanish Succession, Battle of Salamanca, Battle of Quatre Bras, Battle of Waterloo, Lower Canada Rebellion, Siege of Multan, Battle of Gujrat, Siege of Lucknow
Disbanded 1881

The 32nd Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army.


War of Spanish Succession[edit]

The 32nd Foot was first raised in 1702 as a regiment of marines to fight in the War of Spanish Succession. It won its first battle honour in 1705 for the siege and capture of Gibraltar.

Napoleonic Wars[edit]

The 32nd was deployed in Denmark during the Battle of Copenhagen in 1807. They departed on the 27th of July from Ramsgate. The 32nd was ordered aboard the captured Danish ships as marines.[1]

The 32nd landed in Portugal in 1808, and under the soon to be Duke of Wellington, fought in the battles of Roliça and Vimiero. They fought under Moore in the retreat to Corunna, and on returning to England they were part of the Walcheren expedition in the Netherlands where many were struck down with malaria. After being reinforced they returned to Spain, leading the Battle of Salamanca and taking part in all the major conflicts right into France.

The Regiment during the Napoleonic Wars had white facings on its uniform and the officer's lace and buttons were gold. The officer's jackets were unlaced, with 10 twist buttonholes placed in pairs. The jacket of the other ranks had 10 square loops spaced in pairs.[2]

For the final chapter in Napoleon's history, the 32nd fought at the Battle of Quatre Bras, arriving about 2 pm just in time to help halt the French advance. The regiment lost a number of officers and men during the battle of Quatre Bras resulting in it being marginally smaller during the battle of Waterloo than other regiments on average.

Two days later at Battle of Waterloo the 32nd were stationed opposite the French main attacks, stoically standing their ground before attacking Napoleon's assaulting troops. They were positioned some 300 metres behind La Haie Sainte behind Major Roger's Battery. Whilst they were not directly involved in the struggle for La Haie Sainte itself they were the subject of French attacks by Bourgeois' Brigade during and after the Assault. The 1st Battalion of the 32nd was part of the 8th British Brigade commanded by Major-General James Kempt, which was in turn part of the 5th British Infantry Division under Lieutenant-General Thomas Picton. The Regiment was commanded on the field by Major (Brevet. Lieut-Colonel) John Hicks and numbered at 503 men at the battle of Waterloo having suffered casualties at Quatre Bras.[3] It was two men of the 32nd Grenadier company who bore Pictons's body away after he was fatally shot through the head. During one particular incident a French Cavalry officer was dismounted near the 32nd and attempted to seize the regimental colour. He was stabbed by a Colour-Sergeant and shot by a man of the rank and file before he could do more than grab the staff. The fighting during the battle cost the 32nd 28 men killed and 146 wounded, however 44 of the wounded died within the month.

Lower Canada Rebellon[edit]

In 1833 Inglis joined the 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment of Foot, in which all his regimental service was passed. In 1837 he saw active service in Canada in the Lower Canada Rebellion, including the actions at St. Denis and St. Eustache.

Second Anglo-Sikh War[edit]

During the Second Anglo-Sikh War, in 1848 to 1849 in the Punjab, Inglis was in command at the Siege of Multan and at the Battle of Gujrat.

Indian Mutiny[edit]

Main article: Siege of Lucknow

The regiment famously defended Lucknow from July to November 1857, Victoria Crosses being awarded to William Dowling, Henry George Gore-Browne, Samuel Hill Lawrence, and William Oxenham.

The regiment's commanding officer, Col John E. W. Inglis, served as Brigadier in overall command of the Lucknow Residency during the Siege. He was promoted to General and knighted for his services. The regiment was retitled and equipped as a Light Infantry regiment as a result of its contribution to the defence of the Residency, for which it also won a battle honour.


In 1881 it was merged into The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.

It has been often reported that the colours of the 32nd Foot in Monmouth Church are said to have inspired Sir Edward Hamley to pen these inspiring words:

"A moth-eaten rag on a worm-eaten pole,
It does not look likely to stir a man's soul,
'Tis the deeds that were done 'neath the moth-eaten rag,
When the pole was a staff, and the rag was a flag."

However, this is erroneous. The home church of the 32nd Regiment where regimental colours are retired is St. Petroc's Church located in Bodmin, Cornwall.,[4][5] The verse above actually refers to a different set of colours & regiment, the 43rd. The final stanza reads:[6]

"In the church, where it hands when the moon gilds the graves
And the aisles and the arches, it sweels and it waves;
While below, a faint sound of combat is heard
From the ghostly array of the old Forty-Third"

Battle honours[edit]

Battle honours gained by the regiment were: [7]

Victoria Crosses[edit]

Regimental Colonels[edit]

Colonels of the Regiment were: [7]

Name Date of Appointment
Edward Fox 12th Feb 1702
Jacob Borr 5th Dec 1704
Charles Dubourgay 28th Jun 1723
Thomas Paget 28th Jul 1732
Simon Descury 15th Dec 1738
John Huske 25th Dec 1740
Henry Skelton 27th Aug 1743
William Douglas 29 May 1745
Gen. Francis Leighton 1st Dec 1747
32nd Regiment of Foot - (1751)
Robert Robinson 11th Jun 1773
William Amherst 18th Oct 1775
Gen. The Earl of Ross 17 May 1781
32nd (the Cornwall) Regiment of Foot – (1782)
Gen. James Ogilvie 4th Sep 1802
Gen. Alexander Campbell 15th Feb 1813
Sir Samuel Venables Hinde, K.C.B. 28th Feb 1832
Gen. Sir Robert Macfarlane, K.C.B. 26th Sep 1837
Sir John Buchan, K.C.B. 12th Jun 1843
Sir Richard Armstrong, K.C.B. 25th Jun 1850
Gen. Sir Willoughby Cotton, G.C.B., K.C.B. 17th Apr 1854
32nd (The Cornwall) Regiment Foot (Light Infantry) - (1858)
Sir John Eardley Inglis, K.C.B. 5 May 1860
Gen. Henry Dundas, 3rd Viscount Melville, K.C.B. 17th Oct 1862
Gen. Sir George Brown, G.C.B. 1 April 1863
William George Gold 28th Aug 1865
Gen. Sir George Bell, K.C.B. 2nd Feb 1867
Lord Frederick Paulet, C.B. 3rd Aug 1868
Gen. Sir William Jones, K.C.B. 2nd Jan 1871

After July 1881 the successor regiment, the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, had the following Colonels:

  • Gen. William Jones (1st Battalion)
  • Gen. Charles Stuart (2nd Battalion)

TV and film[edit]

In the TV miniseries Poldark (1975–77), based on the Poldark novels of Winston Graham, Ross Poldark is said to have fought in the American Revolution as a member of the 32nd Foot Regiment.


  1. ^ Ross-Lewin, Henry. With the "Thirty-Second" in the Peninsular and Other Campaigns. Leonaur. pp. 62–68. ISBN 978-0-85706-257-4. 
  2. ^ Franklin, Carl (2010). British Napoleonic Uniforms (revised edition). Spellmount. pp. 195–196. ISBN 978-1-86227-484-6. 
  3. ^ Adkin, Mark (2001). The Waterloo Companion. Aurum Press Ltd. pp. 44, 369. 378. ISBN 978-1854107640. 
  4. ^ http://www.britisharmedforces.org/scli_%20pages/pages/regimental_chapels.htm accessed on July 7, 2015
  5. ^ Historical Records of the 32nd (Cornwall) Light Infantry by Colonel G. C. Swiney, London 1893 pp. xii
  6. ^ The Story of the British Army by Charles Cooper King, London 1897 pp. 330-331
  7. ^ a b "32nd (Cornwall Light Infantry) Regiment of Foot". regiments.org. Archived from the original on 5 March 2006. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 


  • Col G Swiney, Historical records of 32 (Cornwall) Light Infantry 1702-1892. London 1893. [1]
  • With the Thirty Second in the Peninsular and other Campaigns - Harry Ross-Lewin

External links[edit]