32nd Foot

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> 32nd Foot

Origin and History

A regiment of marines was raised in Sussex and the adjacent counties at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, as per a Royal Warrant dated June 1 1702. It was known as the "Edward Fox's Regiment" and consisted of 12 companies, with 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, 2 drummers, and 59 privates each. The grenadier company counted an additional sergeant.

Till 1751, the regiment was known by the names of its successive colonels.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, in May 1702, the regiment was initially sent to the Isle of Wight via Portsmouth. In July, the regiment (658 men) was part of the Anglo-Dutch expedition sent against Cadiz. The expeditionary force rapidly made itself master of Rota (July 27) and Fort Santa Catalina (August 2). However, it was soon forced to re-embark (August 25-28), the regiment acting as a rearguard during the operation. On its way back to England, the fleet surprised a French fleet at Vigo on October 22 and an amphibious operation allowed the British to capture the entire French fleet. In November, the regiment was landed at Portsmouth and marched to Arundel, Horsham and Crickfield. In January 1703, the regiment was sent to Portsmouth. During this campaign, 7 companies of the regiment served on board the fleet in the Mediterranean, under Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel. In 1704, a detachment of the regiment embarked aboard the Anglo-Dutch fleet who operated against the Mediterranean coast of Spain, occupying Barcelona in May and seizing Gibraltar in August. In 1705 and 1706, detachments of the regiment continued to serve in Spain, at Gibraltar, Lerida and Barcelona. On April 25 1707, part of the regiment fought in the battle of Almansa. In November 1708, 200 men of the regiment took part in the defence of Denia who surrendered, the defenders being taken as prisoners of war. The remaining detachments operating in Spain were then drafted in other British regiments.

On March 15 1715, the regiment was reinstated. It was immediately sent to Ireland where it remained for several years.

In 1734, the regiment left Ireland, landed at Bristol and marched to Hertford, Hatfield, Ware, and Hoddesden. In 1735, the regiment moved to Canterbury, with detachments at Ashford, Faversham, Maidstone, Rochester, and Sittingbourne. In January, 1736, the regiment was ordered to Ireland, and placed on the Irish establishment, marching from Canterbury to Bristol, the port of embarkation.

At the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment was garrisoning Fort Augustus in Scotland. In the Summer of 1742, the regiment formed part of the British contingent sent to the continent to cooperate with the Austrian and Dutch armies. On June 27 1743, the regiment took part in the battle of Dettingen where it was kept in reserve. In November, it took its winter quarters in Flanders. In May 1744, the British contingent concentrated at Aschel but saw little action during this campaign. In October, it took its winter quarters at Ghent, Bruges, and Ostend. On May 11 1745, the regiment took part in the battle of Fontenoy where it suffered heavy losses. In September, the regiment was among those recalled to Great Britain to quench the Jacobite Rising. It embarked at Wilhelmstadt in October and arrived off Gravesend ten days later. It immediately marched northward. On December 4, it had reached Stafford. The regiment subsequently did good service in Lancashire but does not appear to have taken part in the battles of Falkirk or Culloden. In 1746, the regiment took part in the dispersal of Scottish clans, remaining in Scotland for a short period. In the autumn, the regiment was sent back to Flanders. On October 11, it took part in the battle of Rocoux. On October 26, the British contingent marched to Venloo and then proceeded to their winter quarters in the duchies of Limburg and Luxembourg. On July 2 1747, the regiment took part in the battle of Lauffeld.

After the war, in 1748, the regiment returned to Great Britain where it was stationed in Chelmsford, being reduced to only two companies. In 1749, it was sent to Gibraltar.

On July 1 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British infantry, the regiment was designated as the “32nd Regiment of Foot”.

The regiment remained at Gibraltar till 1753 when it was transferred to Scotland.

As per a resolution dated September 20 1756, a second battalion was exceptionally added to the regiment. It was raised in Scotland. In 1758, this second battalion became the 71st Regiment of Foot.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

  • since December 1 1747 till June 11 1773: Colonel Francis Leighton

Service during the War

The regiment was stationed in Scotland from 1753 to 1763.

As of May 30 1759, it counted 1 battalion for a total of 900 men.

In 1762, the regiment was at Glasgow and consisted of 42 officers, 56 NCOs and 856 privates for a total of 954 men.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Richard Couture from a template by Frédéric Aubert
N.B.: detail of the lace not illustrated
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white and a black cockade (left side)
Grenadier British mitre with: a greyish white front edged white embroidered with dark green leaves and stalks, red roses each with 4 dark green 'pips' and with a dark yellow King's cypher surmounted by a crown (yellow with red cushions, white pearls and ermine headband); a small red front flap edged white with the white horse of Hanover surmounted by the motto "Nec aspera terrent" with a dark green bottom strip with yellow stripes; red back; a greyish white headband edged white probably wearing the number 32 in the middle part behind; white pompom
Neckstock white
Coat brick red lined greyish white and laced white (white braid with 2 black zigzags) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 white buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel; a red swallow nest laced white (same lace as above) on each shoulder
Collar none
Shoulder Straps brick red (left shoulder only) fastened with a pewter button
Lapels greyish white laced white (same lace as above) with 7 pewter buttons and 6 white buttonholes (same lace as above)
Pockets horizontal pockets laced white (same lace as above)
Cuffs greyish white slashed cuffs laced white (same lace as above) with 4 pewter buttons and 4 white buttonholes (same lace as above) on the sleeve above each the cuff
Turnbacks greyish white
Waistcoat brick red edged white (same lace as above)
Breeches brick red
Gaiters white with black buttons
brown, grey or black during campaigns (black after 1759)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black
Footgear black shoes


Troopers were armed with a “Brown Bess” muskets, a bayonet and a sword.

Officers

Officers of the regiment wore the same coat as the private soldiers but with the following differences:

  • silver gorget around the neck
  • a silver aiguilette on the right shoulder
  • silver lace instead of the normal lace
  • a crimson sash

Officers wore the same headgear as the private soldiers under their command; however, officers of the grenadier company wore a more decorated mitre cap.

Officers generally carried a spontoon; however, in battle some carried a musket instead.

Musicians

The drummers of the regiment were clothed in greyish white, lined, faced, and lapelled on the breast with red, and laced in such manner as the colonel shall think fit for distinction sake, the lace, however, was of the colours of that on the soldiers' coats.

The front or fore part of the drums was painted greyish white, with the king's cypher and crown, and the number “XXXII” under it. The rims were red.

Colours

King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with a rose and thistle wreath around the regiment number "XXXII" in gold Roman numerals.

Regimental Colour: red cross of St. George in a white field with its centre decorated with a rose and thistle wreath around the regiment number "XXXII" in gold Roman numerals. The Union in the upper left corner.

N.B.: since this regiment exceptionally counted 2 battalions, the colours of the 2nd Battalion were distinguished by a flaming ray superposed to the upper left branch of the saltire.

King's Colour - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Regimental Colour - Source: Frédéric Aubert
King's Colour 2nd Battalion - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Regimental Colour 2nd Battalion - Source: Frédéric Aubert

References

The history of the regiment is an abridged version of a text extracted from the following book which is in the public domain:

  • Swiney, George Clayton; Historical Records of the 32nd (Cornwall) Light Infantry...; Simpkin, Marshall , Hamilton, Kent, 1893

Other sources

Fortescue J. W., A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899

Funcken, Liliane and Fred, Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

George II, The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751

Lawson, Cecil C. P., A History of the Uniforms of the British Army - from the Beginnings to 1760, vol. II

Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately does not seem to be online any more)

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756 - 1763. Edited and published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt, 1989