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 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.

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 Cornish regiment were renowned for their bloodcurdling Death Howl before attacking.[citation needed]

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 J. Hicks.[1] There were 647 men of all ranks at the start of 18 June 1815, and at the end of the day there were only 131 men left standing; they suffered the greatest loss of any regiment on that day.

They Stood, They Fought, They Died, They Won, They Are Remembered

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 Hamly 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 colors are retired is St. Petroc's Church located in Bodmin, Cornwall.,[2][3] The verse above actually refers to a different set of colors & regiment, the 43rd. The final stanza by Sir Edward Hamly reads:[4]

"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"


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. ^ Adkin, Mark (2001). The Waterloo Companion. Aurum Press Ltd. pp. 44, 369. 378. ISBN 978-1854107640. 
  2. ^ http://www.britisharmedforces.org/scli_%20pages/pages/regimental_chapels.htm accessed on July 7, 2015
  3. ^ Historical Records of the 32nd (Cornwall) Light Infantry by Colonel G. C. Swiney, London 1893 pp.237-239
  4. ^ The Story of the British Army by Charles Cooper King, London 1897 pp. 330-331
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 12188. p. 3. 15 May 1781. Retrieved 15 November 2009.


  • Col G Swiney, Historical records of 32 (Cornwall) Light Infantry 1702-1892. London 1893. [1]

External links[edit]