Ste. Anne Parish Militia – Nouvelle Chartres, circa 1754

Photo provided by Ted & Dianne Mueller for an Southern Illinois 2015 article

Ste. Anne’s Militia was born out of the George Rogers Clark March from Fort Massac to the Cahokia Courthouse in 1976.  A great majority of the founding members were a part of the march and had been involved in living history prior to that event.  During the march, it was identified that there was a need for a group to portray French Colonial habitants in the Illinois Country from the period of the new stone fort (mid 1750’s).

Until this point, the focus of much living history and black powder shooting was the fur trade and western mountain men.  There were few groups focusing upon French Colonial periods.  Much of the interest in French Colonial living history at this time was also instigated by the bicentennial of the American Revolution.

The militia represents the group of habitants or settlers that lived and worked in the village of Novelle Chartres and were a part of Ste. Anne’s Parish.  During the period, Ste. Anne’s parish encompassed the village at the fort and satellite churches in Prarie du Rocher and Ste. Phillpe.  The majority of members were engaged in agriculture and trade as well as some craftsmen.  While the majority of our members dress and appear in typical French Colonial civilian dress, some military accoutrements and coats can be seen in our ranks when depicting the military aspects of the militia.

Documentary sources from the parish church records indicate that a militia company from the village at Fort de Chartres was in existence from the time of the first fort in the 1720’s.  The recreated militia company represents the unit as it may have looked in the mid 1750’s soon after the new stone fort was largely completed.  By this time, the Illinois Country was thriving economically.  Fort de Chartres was the seat of government for Upper Louisiana and the center of a large agricultural production economy.  Given this, the population of the village numbered several hundred people. Being that all males old enough to bear arms were required to be a part of the militia, the numbers in ranks at any given time could number as high as one hundred or more men.

The obvious function of the militia during the period was to act as a support for the Companies Franches de la Marine troops.  Additionally, the militia worked to maintain roads, bridges, and other public works.  Aside from military and work details, the militia also functioned at a social level.  Militia musters were social events and provided diverse “refreshments” and entertainments. Contact The Original Ste Anne Parish Militia through their Facebook page.