The regiment’s first duty was to reinforce Marines assigned to the diplomatic legation already in Shanghai and the prevention of rioting and mob violence within the American sector of the international settlement. Cooperative arrangements were made with the military forces of seven other nations. Responsibility for internal security —which is to say, within the international settlement— went to the American Marines, Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese units. These included checkpoints and roving patrols in the eastern and western sections of the settlement. The regiment was, however, limited to internal defensive measures—its orders specific to avoid confronting Chinese military units. These orders kept the Marines from manning barricades along the perimeter of the settlement, but machine gun sections were occasionally provided to reinforce British and Italian sectors. There were occasions when British forces opened fire on Chinese, but American Marines were not involved in any of these incidents.
In late March, Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler, a veteran of the Boxer Rebellion, arrived to take overall command of Marines serving in China, which included two battalions of the 4th Regiment and one provisional battalion of Marines from Guam. In early April, Butler’s command was designated 3rd Marine Brigade. Butler gave the 4th Regiment more leeway in accomplishing its mission, specifically ordering them to man perimeter defenses, and prevent any breakthrough by anyone.
Marine Corps reinforcements for service in China began to form in the Philippines, including the 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment, 1st Battalion, 10th Regiment, and 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment. While this provisional regiment did arrive off shore of Shanghai in mid-April, it was ultimately sent ashore at Tientsin.
The situation in Shanghai improved considerably by May 1927. Military forces were withdrawn from the perimeter and Marines discontinued patrolling within the settlement by the end of that month. Working in unison, American, British, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch forces were able to maintain the integrity of the international settlement. At Tientsin, 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment was redesignated as the 2nd Battalion, 12th Regiment, the provisional battalion was deactivated, and Marines were either folded into existing units or ordered to other posts and stations at the time.
To be continued