On Friday, September 16, 2011, The Company of St. James commemorated the 446th anniversary of the first mustering of America’s original citizen-soldiers in St. Augustine in partnership with the Florida National Guard and Florida Department of Military Affairs.
The First Muster heritage Event took place on the grounds of the Florida National Guard’s headquarters in the St. Francis Barracks in St. Augustine, Florida. This year’s Event was the second to commemorate that initial muster of America’s militia and the “birthday” of the US National Guard.
The Company of St. James, a member unit of Florida Living History, Inc., was invited to provide living historians dressed in the garb, and bearing the weapons, of the 16th-century, Spanish citizen-soldiers who formed America’s first militia, as well as to discuss and demonstrate the military arts of the period.
The first muster of militia troops in the continental United States took place on September 16, 1565, in the newly established Spanish presidio of San Agustín.
Major General Emmett R. Titshaw, Jr., Adjutant General of Florida, opened the First Muster Event with remarks to the assembled troops and attendees. In line with his command philosophy of linking the Florida National Guard’s heritage to its horizons, Gen. Titshaw commented “From 50, we’ve become 12,000…That is a remarkable growth and achievement over the years.”
He noted that this heritage Event was the continuation of a five-year program to educate people about Florida National Guard history, culminating in 2015 with the 450th anniversary of both the founding of St. Augustine and of America’s first militia.
Lt. Col. (Ret) Greg Moore, Command Historian, gave a brief talk on the historical background of the First Muster and the circumstances surrounding the mustering of citizen-soldiers to defend the new settlement and to safeguard the families and property of their countrymen.
The 2011 First Muster anniversary commemoration was a thorough success and plans are being made to expand this annual heritage Event ongoing. Feedback from both attendees and participants on this year’s First Muster has been entirely positive.