32nd (Cornwall) Regiment of Foot
The regiment was first raised by Colonel Edward Fox as Edward Fox’s Regiment of Marines in 1702 to fight in the War of Spanish Succession but was then renamed as the 32nd Regiment of Foot in 1751. In 1782 all “regiments of the line” without a royal title were given a county designation and the regiment became the 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment of Foot – the name it retained until 1 July 1881 when the Childers Reforms came into effect and the regiment amalgamated with the 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment of Foot to form the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (DCLI).
During the Napoleonic period, the 32nd Regiment was, from 1808 to 1814, heavily involved in the Peninsular War gaining Battle honours at “Roleia”, “Vimiera”, “Corunna”, “Salamanca”, “Pyrenees”, “Nivelle”, “Nive”, “Orthes” and “Peninsula”. In 1815, as part of the 5th British Infantry Division under Lieutenant-General Picton, the regiment fought at the Battle of Quatre Bras, arriving about 3 pm on 16 June 1815 just in time to help halt the French advance.
Two days later at the Battle of Waterloo the regiment was stationed, along with other ‘veteran’ regiments, in the centre of Wellington’s army, directly opposite the French main attacks – ‘stoically’ standing their ground before finally advancing on, and ultimately defeating, Napoleon’s assaulting troops. In the 32nd Regiment there were 647 men of all ranks at the start of 16th June 1815, and by the end of the 2 days fighting, there were reported to be only 131 men left standing – suffering the heaviest loss of any British regiment over those days.
They Stood, They Fought, They Died, They Won, They Are Remembered.
It is on this 1808-1815 period that today’s 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment Napoleonic re-enactment Group are primarily focussed, striving to open up the world of living history to everyone.
Based in Cornwall and Devon, and as part of the overall Napoleonic Association, we aim to portray all aspects of life in the Regiment, not just the rank and file. We welcome camp followers, traders, surgeons… any one who would like to take part in living history! We also welcome people interested in researching and re-creating the period. Our creative contacts produce high quality reproductions of the clothing, uniforms and equipment of the Napoleonic era.
At our events everyone can experience dramatic gun firing exhibitions, military marching and drill displays, either as a single regiment or part of a much larger battalion. We camp under canvas, cook over an open fire and march to the beat of our very own fife and drum. We are frequently invited to living history events and large scale battle re-enactments both in the UK and abroad.
The original 32nd regiment achieved great triumphs and suffered great loss, but is not among the most famous of the regiments who took part in the Napoleonic Wars – something we hope to change. We try and recreate the regiment as it was between 1808 and 1815 by showing both the social life in camp and the military life in battle. We have come together through many different interests; from military history, Regency life-style, model-making to historic firearms. All are determined to have fun recreating the noblest period of English history – and we are always looking for new members to join us!