Marshall's Horse was mainly composed of the mounted portions of the First City (Grahamstown) Volunteers and Uitenhage Rifle Volunteers. In the despatches and in unofficial accounts the corps are mixed up, and sometimes are called Grahamstown Volunteers, sometimes Marshall's Horse.
Marshall's Horse formed part of his army which, in February and March 1900, advanced from Modder River to Bloemfontein, and on the way they saw a great deal of fighting. In the despatch of 15th March 1900 Lord Roberts said that during the advance on Bloemfontein—that is, after the surrender of Cronje at Paardeberg—he had reorganised the mounted infantry, and the 1st City of Grahamstown Volunteers were said to have been put into the 4th Brigade of Mounted Infantry, commanded by Colonel C P Ridley. On 7th March the battle of Poplar's Grove was fought. The cavalry and mounted infantry did most of the work on that occasion, and suffered practically all the casualties; these included Lieutenant Frieslich of this corps, killed. The strength of the corps when it arrived at Bloemfontein was 12 officers, 245 men, and 231 horses.
Prior to Lord Roberts commencing his advance on Pretoria it was necessary to clear the enemy from their stronghold at Thabanchu, and a powerful force was put under General Ian Hamilton for the purpose of carrying out this object. It included Colonel Ridley's Brigade of Mounted Infantry, which again embraced the 5th Corps of Mounted Infantry, under Colonel Dawson, made up of the 5th Battalion Regular Mounted Infantry, Roberts' Horse, Marshall's Horse, the Ceylon Mounted Infantry, and a pom-pom. An excellent account of the work of Ian Hamilton's army is furnished by Mr Winston Churchill in his 'Ian Hamilton's March'.
On 25th April the enemy had to be cleared out of a very strong position at Israel's Poort. The frontal attack was entrusted to the Canadian Regiment of Infantry and Marshall's Horse, who had to lie for over four hours at about 800 yards from the enemy while the remainder of the mounted infantry were working round on the left. After heavy fighting the position was carried. In his telegram of the 27th April Lord Roberts said that among the casualties were no less than 7 officers of the Grahamstown Volunteers. Captain Gethin was killed, and Major Marshall, Lieutenants Murray, Winnery, Rawal, Barry, Hull, and 4 non-commissioned officers and men were wounded. In his telegraphic despatch of 27th April Lord Roberts said that the Royal Canadian Regiment and Marshall's Horse did particularly well.
All through May, during the advance to Pretoria, Ian Hamilton's force, which was first the army of the right flank and afterwards crossed the centre and became the army of the left flank, was constantly and most obstinately opposed, but every one, from the General downwards, did unsurpassably well. For the army of the centre it was practically a walk-over, the fighting being almost wholly on the flanks. Marshall's Horse frequently took a prominent share of the work. On 5th June at Schippen's Farm, for example, they had 1 killed and 5 wounded. They were engaged at Doornkop, south-west of Johannesburg, on 29th May, and in the battle of Diamond Hill, east of Pretoria, on 11th, 12th, and 13th June, and had slight casualties in both actions.
After Diamond Hill a large force was put under Sir A Hunter to clear the north-east of the Orange River Colony (also Roberts' Horse). Ridley's Mounted Infantry was part of the force, and Marshall's Horse were engaged at Heidelberg on 23rd June and were left there as part of the garrison. In his telegram of 22nd July Lord Roberts mentioned that a post on the railway east of Heidelberg had been attacked, and that General Hart had started from Heidelberg to succour the defenders. Part of Hart's force was 140 of Marshall's Horse. The attack was driven off before Hart arrived.
When De Wet broke out of the Brandwater Basin on 15th-16th July, Broadwood's Cavalry and Ridley's Mounted Infantry dashed off in pursuit, and Marshall's Horse and other troops under Hart were brought down the railway to co-operate. About Rhenoster Marshall's Horse had sharp fighting and some casualties.
For a time De Wet skulked in the Reitzburg Hills, but on the night of 6th August broke out across the Vaal. Ridley's force took part in the pursuit, and Marshall's Horse was at times engaged with De Wet's rear-guard. De Wet escaped through Olifant's Nek to the north of the Megaliesberg about 15th August. At the request of Lord Roberts, Lord Kitchener with the bulk of Ridley's Mounted Infantry and other troops pressed on to the relief of Hore at Eland's River (see Rhodesian Regiment). In the latter part of August and during September Marshall's Horse was employed about Krugersdorp and in the Gatsrand, and frequently had fighting and rather heavy casualties. In October, November, and December they were with Barton in the Frederickstad district, and on 18th October a foraging party got into a nasty place when Marshall's Horse lost 2 killed and 4 wounded. The corps took part in the very severe fighting which Barton's force had between 20th and 25th October, which resulted in the total defeat of the force opposed to him. Marshall's Horse had Lieutenant Mullins and 2 men wounded.
When at the end of 1900 and beginning of 1901 the enemy reinvaded Cape Colony, the greater part of Marshall's Horse, like most of the Cape raised corps, were brought south to protect their own colony and for long did good service in the columns of Colonel Crabbe and other leaders. They were constantly in action and often had casualties. Lieutenant Cliff Turpin was killed and 6 men were wounded on 24th March 1901 in the Zuurberg Mountains when on patrol duty. In July and August they assisted to drive Kritzinger from the Colony. On 9th September Colonel Crabbe completely defeated the commando of Vandermerwe, that leader being killed and 37 of his men captured. Marshall's Horse, under Major Corbett, and Prince Alfred's Guards did a great part of the fighting, and did it well. Marshall's Horse had 3 men killed and Lieutenant Tyler and 1 man wounded.
Part of the corps remained throughout most of 1901 in the Transvaal; about 30 were in the column of Brigadier General Cunningham, afterwards of Brigadier General Dixon, which operated about the Gatsrand and Megaliesberg (see war record of 1st Battalion Derbyshire Regiment). This detachment had 1 man killed and 1 man wounded at Modderfontein on 31st January, and 1 man killed and 1 wounded at Randfontein on 8th February, and had other casualties. A portion of the corps were also in the Kroonstad district in April, May, and June 1901.
In 1902 the corps was in the west of Cape Colony, where fighting was continuous and the marching very severe. On 24th March at Rhenoster Valley a detachment of Marshall's Horse was badly cut up, losing 7 men killed and 1 officer, Lieutenant A P L Gabbatt, and 7 men wounded.
The Mentions gained by the corps, which were unaccountably few considering the acknowledged value of their work, were as follows:—
LORD ROBERTS' DESPATCH: April 1901.—Major G Marshall, awarded the CMG.
LORD KITCHENER'S DESPATCH: 1st June 1902.—Trooper A Lloyd, promoted Corporal, in Cradock district, Cape Colony, March 24th, when advanced scout with one other man who was dangerously wounded, picked him up and carried him into cover, though himself wounded in the side and twice again wounded whilst carrying him in.
There are attestation papers in the National Archives for the Uitenhage Volunteer Rifles and Marshall's Horse, both with the same reference (WO126/89-90). The papers themselves are for people attesting with Marshall's Horse although they are stamped at the top with 'Uitenhage Volunteer Rifles'.
See the forum posts on Marshall's Horse.
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