The officers of the 164th Infantry extended an invitation, on this date in 1927, to all North Dakotans to come to Camp Grafton to witness special maneuvers and parade review in honor of Governor A. G. Sorlie.
Colonel D. S. Ritchie, regimental commander, stated, “While the specific purpose of the observance of Governor’s Day is to give the executive of the state an opportunity to see the National Guard in action, we are anxious that everyone who can possibly come will do so. Last year we had fully 10,000 people on hand for the maneuvers and review, and this year with the greatly enlarged program that is being carried out, we will be disappointed if we do not have at least 20,000 people on hand,” he said.
The 164th was indeed planning a “greatly enlarged program.” The AP story out of Devils Lake read, “The outstanding feature of the Sunday program is the simulation of a war time attack by a full strength company. This event. . .will feature the advance of a company of 200 soldiers in regular wartime fashion, under a screen of smoke, produced by smoke candles, and phosphorous bombs with star shells and flares also being used. The whole advance will be carried out under a barrage of machine guns and 37 millimeter guns,” the story continued. “All in all it gives promise of being the biggest and most realistic demonstration of actual warfare ever attempted in North Dakota.”
Governor A.G. Sorlie was not disappointed when the event took place two days later. Meeting expectations, the crowd was the largest ever seen at Camp Grafton. According to the AP story, an estimated fifteen to twenty thousand people showed up to observe the military maneuvers provided by some twelve-hundred North Dakota Guardsmen.
“The entire day was given over to various military demonstrations in honor of the governor’s presence,” the story read. “Especially during the afternoon there never was a dull moment, there being band concerts by the regiment band of Lisbon, demonstration of a war-strength attack, and exhibition of machine gun firing at toy balloons.
“The war strength company demonstration, in which 200 men were used, was highly impressive and demonstrated to Governor Sorlie and other visitors the efficient training which the North Dakota guardsmen are receiving at the home stations of the various units and at the camp.”
By Merry Helm
Source: Bismarck Tribune. June 17 & 20, 1927.