It is an expected motto for a rather deceiving unit title.
This flag served as the standard for the Compagnies Frances de la Marine (Independent Companies of the Navy) from 1690 until the British Capture of New France in 1760. Those involved in historical reenactment, who portray this unit simply refer to themselves as French Marines.
From the Mid-17th Century until 1763, the lands stretching from Nova Scotia to the Gulf Coast, and from the Forks of the Ohio to the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, fell under the control of the French Crown. To protect this vast empire, and its lucrative fur and metals trades, colonial security was placed in the hands of the Navy. In order to fulfill this, most land-based, mission, the Navy began raising companies of infantry to garrison the forts and settlements that had been erected across Canada and the American interior.
The officer corps were all Canadian-born descendants of the first French settlers to arrive on the continent in the1620s and 30s. They would be sent to France to receive a military education before returning home to receive their commissions and commands. The enlisted men, however, were recruited from France. These men tended to originate from prisons and the lower rungs of French society. Those who were well enough off couldn’t dream of leaving everything behind and starting over in the American wilderness, so finding people to immigrate was far more difficult for the French than it was for the English. In fact, when a Marine finally left the service, it was expected of him to remain in the colony and become a tradesmen or farmer in the community he once guarded.
Until 1756, when the Marquis de Montcalm arrived in Canada with a few regiments from the Army, the Marines were the only organized military presence France maintained in North America. Officially, their uniforms consisted of a grey, or white, coat with blue facings on the cuffs and tails. However, when out on campaign, most Marines were indistinguishable from regular militia in terms of dress; save for the iconic anchor displayed on their cartridge boxes. They frequently went into battle alongside native peoples and were quick to adopt their tactics and fighting styles. During peacetime, these men could be found manning the walls of major cities like Quebec, Louisbourg, and New Orleans, canoeing up and down the Mississippi, Ohio, and Illinois Rivers, or exploring the western edge of the Great Plains; seeking to expand the power and reach of the French Monarchs.
Like all French Units on the continent, the Marines were disbanded at the end of the French and Indian War. Most of the enlisted men returned to France, but some stayed behind to build families and lives for themselves in this place they had come to call home.
This flag, and the men who served under it, should remind us that American history isn’t solely rooted in England, or along the Atlantic Coast; and that those roots can go deeper than many of us can imagine.