In February 1879, Captain G. Marshall of the Middlesex Yeomanry Cavalry and Captain T. McDonald were authorised to each raise a troop of mounted men, intended as replacements for the Frontier Light Horse; Marshall set about raising his troop in Durban, whilst McDonald raised his men in Pietermaritzburg. Proceeding to Kampala, it was clear on arrival that the Frontier Light Horse was already at full strength and nobody knew what to do with these new men. Thankfully, common sense prevailed and under the command of Captain W. Whalley, ex-17th Lancers and Papal Zouaves, a new regiment was formed called the Natal Light Horse, with a strength of 138 men.
Initially involved in reconnaissance work, the regiment were heavily engaged at Matzanhlopi Camp on 6 June 1879.
The following extract is taken from the Natal Mercury: ‘Before we arrived at the position selected, the Lancers and Dragoons were seen coming over the ridge, but before we left, a party of Zulus had crept down the donga on the left of Baker’s and McDonald’s Horse and crept up in the rear through the long grass, and poured in a volley at 30 yards range, and while they were getting in the saddle they got a second one from their wily friends, at about the same distance.’
Under Lieutenant-Colonel Buller, and operating together with Baker’s Horse, the Frontier Light Horse, Transvaal Rangers and the 1st Imperial Mounted Infantry, the regiment was involved in further bloody actions: ‘Buller’s men had the score of Zlobane to settle with the Zulus; and a vengeful fury raged in their hearts because of a spectacle which met their gaze yesterday. In the long grass they found three comrades who had fallen in a reconnaissance the previous day, mangled with fiendish ingenuity, scalped, their noses and right hands cut off, their hearts torn out, and other nameless mutilations.
154 Medals were awarded to the Natal Light Horse, 152 of them with the ‘1879’ clasp.