From Eric Mink:
The following is based upon material that I stumbled upon while researching the 1921 United States Marine Corps maneuvers on the Wilderness Battlefield. In my discussions of this event with colleagues and local historians, I was surprised that no one had heard of this event. A very obscure and unknown bit of Fredericksburg military history is worthy of a post.
“Marines Take Fredericksburg” is how The Richmond-Times Dispatch of June 4, 1918 described the descent of nearly 1,000 United States Marines upon the small town of Fredericksburg, Va. For two days, men of the 10th Marine Regiment of Field Artillery camped at the fairgrounds and on June 5 staged an elaborate sham battle that raged from the riverfront, through the streets of Fredericksurg and all the way to crest of Marye’s Heights. It was an extremely unusual event and spectacle that impressed and fascinated the residents of the city, but has since passed from local memory.
On June 3, 1918, the 10th Marine Regiment, led by Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. “Jumbo” Hill, left its home at the Marine Corps Barracks at
Quantico, Va. The barracks had opened the previous year with the expansion and rapid mobilization that followed the United States entry into World War I. Many Marines on their way to France passed through Quantico. The 10th Marine Regiment hoped for deployment to Europe and stepped up its preparedness, and the trip to Fredericksburg was undoubtedly part of its increased activity and training.
The Free Lance described the column that left Quantico as consisting of “800 men, 42 officers, 18 trucks, 10 rolling kitchens, 2 ambulances, and 16 horses.” Missing from this list were the large guns, the artillery that the men also brought with them. The first day consisted of a twenty-mile march, bringing the column to Garrisonville, where it camped for the night. The following day the Marines made for Fredericksburg, stopping for their noon meal on the farm of Judge Richard H.L. Chichester, near Falmouth. The column entered Fredericksburg with the men crossing the river by the Falmouth Bridge, while the vehicles crossed on the Free Bridge (today Chatham Bridge). Tents were erected at the fairgrounds, and after the men consumed their supper they were given their liberty. Many visited the city before returning to camp by 10 p.m.