Barracks inside fortPeriod style tents set up outside fortView of outside the fort

Les Compagnies Franches de la Marine
(The Company of French Marines, Fort de Chartres - Prairie Du Rocher, IL)


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There is a wealth of history in the state of Illinois -- much more than just Springfield and Abraham Lincoln --- or Chicago and its fire. Southern Illinois played  an important role in our nation's history as far back as the 1600s.

For example, Illinois was part of the French Louisiana in the early 1700s. French military built forts at strategic places along water ways. The French Marines garrisoned these forts with the Compagnies de Marine. The Crown gave the Fort's commanders permission to trade with the Indians. Illinois Marines served in all of France's colonial and Indian wars. Illinois Marines and Illinois Indians fought in the Chickasaw Wars and during the French and Indian War served at the Siege of Fort Necessity and at Braddock's Road.

Today, there are many activities throughout the year that celebrate this French connection at Fort de Chartres, located near Prairie Du Rocher. Reenactors, and yes, there are female and youth reenactors, from all around the area, dress in period costumes and French Marine attire, to recreate what life would have been like in that time period. As one reenactor put it, "We eat, drink, sleep and breathe as those French Marines and the people of that era would have."


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The Compagnie Franche de la Marine du Fort de Chartres is a living history organization. We are dedicated to recreating the garrison unit that was present at Fort de Chartres in the mid-1700s. The first two forts at de Chartres were made out of wood which deteriorated and eventually fell down. The third was constructed of limestone in 1753. The forts were named Fort de Chartres in honor of Louis due de Chartres, son of the regent of France. In 1763, France surrendered Illinois to Great Britain in the Treaty of Paris that ended the French and Indian War (Seven Years' War). The original fort sat on the banks of the Mississippi, but an earthquake in the early 1800s shifted the river bed approximately one mile to its present location. This fort was the northern most fort of the Louisiana Territory. The fort itself was not involved in any battles, but many troops garrisoned there played major roles in battles of the French and Indian War.

When hostilities broke out at the beginning of the French and Indian War, the French Marines were the only French regulars in New France. They weren't marines in the modern sense of the word, but the troops fell under the authority of the French ministry of the Marine which was responsible for the administration of French Colonies in New France. They were independent companies of infantry. Most recruits came from France, but by the time of the French and Indian War, most of the officers were recruited out of Canada.

Our group helps preserve and interpret French Colonial history in North America, and particularly in Illinois. We participate in many local living history events. If you have a love of history, consider joining us in preserving and retelling the important story of the French Marines in Illinois.


 ~We thank you for visiting our sight and hope that you will learn and grow with history~