In northern France’s Champagne region, the battle-hardened Leathernecks of the 4th Marine Brigade faced one of their most daunting Great War tasks: storming heavily defended Blanc Mont Ridge.Belleau Wood, Soissons, and St. Mihiel. The 2nd’s composition—half U.S. Army, half U.S. Marine Corps—set the unit apart from other divisions. Its 3rd Brigade consisted of the 9th and 23rd Infantry regiments and the 5th Machine Gun Battalion—all Army units—while its 4th Marine Brigade included the 5th and 6th Marines and the 6th Machine Gun Battalion. Further differentiating the division was that its commander, Major General John A. Lejeune, was a Marine.
The 2nd Division had fought under French control at Belleau Wood and Soissons before serving under American Expeditionary Forces commander General John A. Pershing for the assault on the St. Mihiel salient. But on 23 September, while the division was resting near Toul, Lejeune received word that it again would serve under the French. It had been ordered to reinforce the French Fourth Army for its advance alongside Pershing’s U.S. First Army during the Meuse-Argonne offensive.