Florida National Guard to celebrate 449th Anniversary of ‘First Muster’

First Muster 449

Ceremony to officially dedicate parade field as ‘Patriot Field

WHAT: The Florida National Guard will celebrate the 449th anniversary of the first known muster of Citizen-Soldiers in the continental U.S. during a celebration in St. Augustine, Fla. Re-enactors from Florida Living History will be present to help tell the story of the Citizen-Soldier in Florida. The ceremony will also officially dedicate the parade field in front of the Florida National Guard headquarters as “Patriot Field.”

WHEN: Friday, Sept. 12, 2014; 3 p.m.

WHERE: St. Francis Barracks parade field, Florida National Guard Headquarters, 82 Marine St., St. Augustine, Fla.

Officer and enlisted platoons will form at 3 p.m. for the ceremony, and members of Florida Living History will demonstrate a traditional Spanish firing detail.

Over the past three years the Florida National Guard has collected soil samples from battlefields around the world where the Florida National Guard – or its militia predecessors – served and fought. These 19 different soil samples represent National Guard militia traditions dating back to the 1560s, continuing through the wars in the 19th and 20th Centuries, and ending with recent deployments to Southwest Asia. Last September the soil was sprinkled on the parade field, and this year special markers commemorating the soil will be unveiled. Photo from Sept. 2013 ceremony: https://www.flickr.com/photos/floridanationalguardonflickr/sets/72157635538136535/ 

The “first muster” took place on Sept. 16, 1565, when Pedro Menendez de Aviles gathered around him the soldiers of his small Spanish army, as well as the civilian settlers who accompanied him to the newly established presidio town of St. Augustine. He was about to march north to the French settlement of Fort Caroline near the mount of the St. Johns River. Because his plan called for the use of the majority of his regular soldiers, Menendez drew upon Spanish laws governing the milicia, or militia, in an imperial province. As both the civil governor and the commander-in-chief of the military establishment, he had the authority to call all free male settlers in the presidio province to active service.