The Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry

By Weeks Parker | Fayetteville History | August 2022 Issue

The Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry (F.I.L.I.), which is the South’s oldest military unit in continuous existence and the second oldest in the United States, was formed in 1793 with 23 charter members.

The 100th anniversary of the founding of this organization was commemorated in Fayetteville on Aug. 9 and 10, 1893, when a photograph was made of the members standing in front of the former female seminary on Hay Street as they and other dignitaries awaited the centennial address by Justice James C. MacRae of the North Carolina Supreme Court. A banquet and dance were later held in the ballroom of the LaFayette Hotel on Hay Street.

In the early 1900s, Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry soldiers drilled in front of the old St. Luke’s Hospital near the present Highland Presbyterian Church. In 1936, an armory was constructed on Burgess Street across from Central Elementary School. The building is now used as a museum for the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry, which is now commanded by Bruce Daws.