History, Customs & Traditions

Formed in 1793 under the Militia Act signed by President George Washington and passed by Congress on March 5, 1792.  The Militia Act, in effect, continued and legalized all of the old colonial and state militia organizations and practices, including the recognition of independent organized militias. Each of the militia companies was authorized one Captain, one Lieutenant and one Ensign.

 

There was soon talk of war with England and the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry was organized as the situation in Europe threatened to involve the United States. The Company was organized on August 23, 1793, and Robert Adam was elected Captain, John Winslow was elected Lieutenant and Robert Cochran was elected Ensign. Throughout its' history the F.I.L.I. has always remained a "corps of gentlemen."

 

In 1797, shortly after the F.I.L.I. was organized, Isaac Hammond, a free black veteran of the American Revolution, became the first Fifer. According to North Carolina colonial records, Isaac Hammond was a member of Captain Jones' Company in the 10th Regiment of the North Carolina Continental Line. It was his dying request that he be buried on the F.I.L.I. Parade Ground, near the famous Cool Spring, where he could be near the Company, in spirit, that he loved and served so faithfully.

In 1825, the company served as honor guard to the Marquis de Lafayette on his visit to Fayetteville which was named after him in 1784 in honor of the French nobleman's service in the American revolution. Construction of the U.S. arsenal in Fayetteville in 1838 increased the importance of the company.

When the Civil War began, the F.I.L.I. joined the 1st North Carolina Volunteers, called the "Bethel" Regiment, as Company H. It was the first regiment organized in North Carolina and fought in the Battle of Big Bethel, the first land engagement of the war. Some of its members were among the troops who later surrendered at Appomattox.

 

During the Spanish-American War, the F.I.L.I. entered national service as Company A, 2nd Regiment, commanded by Capt. Benjamin R. Huske. Wearing their Confederate uniforms, the enlistees marched into Camp Dan Russell, where "they doffed the grays" and "donned the blues" of the United States. The company trained at Tybee Island, Ga., but did not sail to Cuba. The troops were mustered out at Macon, Ga., on 8 Feb. 1899. In 1917, the company went to Camp Stewart at El Paso, Tex., to help defend the border from raids by Mexican leader Francisco Villa.

 

During World War I the F.I.L.I. served as Company F of the 119th Infantry Regiment, part of the Thirtieth Division, and fought in Flanders-its last military service.

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