The City Imperial Volunteers were the pride of London and a symbol of the rampant jingoism which affected England in the early months of the War. 1,550 strong, they were raised by the Lord Mayor of London in January 1900 and paid for by the City. The first contingent left for South Africa in March, laden with gifts from friends and supporters (including 2,000 bottles of whisky and enough beer to issue five gallons to a man). They were a cosmopolitan outfit and embraced almost all professions, London Volunteer Regiments and social classes: 'The C.I.V. included an officer of the crown, nine barristers, seven architects, two bankers, thirty civil servants, four schoolmasters, and a ship owner. Tom Cockrane was elected to Parliament while serving in the ranks. Colonel Mackinnon was astonished and amused by the quality of his men. Inquiring of a sentry what his profession was, he was told: "I have none, sir, but my amusement in life is archaeology." On shipboard, he inquired about a Sergeant who in rough weather was exceptionally steady on his feet, and was told that he owned a yacht. Their manners, while impeccable, were incongruously civilian, and Mackinnon had cause to complain to his Sergeants: 'The conversational style in which some of them give commands to strong squads is not condusive to efficiency' (Farwell refers). As a homogenous body, they fought well in Roberts' engagements in 1900, 'like a regiment of veterans', according to Conan Doyle and returned to a hero's welcome at the end of that year when the War was popularly thought to be over.
The C.I.V. were mobbed when they left London. Every member of the Regiment was made a Freeman of the City of London and Colonel Mackinnon noted in his diary for 13.1.1900: 'The detachment marched out of Bunhill Row at 7a.m., but, owing to the enormous crowds lining the streets, it took three hours and twenty minutes to get to Nine Elms. Several men were exhausted, and many articles of equipment lost' (The Journal of the C.I.V. in South Africa refers).