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St. Albans Raid

  • Time Period: October 19, 1864
  • Area: St. Albans, Vermont

The northernmost engagement of the Civil War was fought far from the usual battlefields, in the Vermont town of St. Albans near the Canadian border.

Hoping to divert Union soldiers from Southern fronts, the Confederate government authorized a daring young Kentuckian, Bennett H. Young, to recruit for the raid a band of prisoners who had escaped to canada. Young and 20 fellow raiders, posing as vacationers and hunters, converged on St. Albans over a period of several days. Just before 3:00 P.M. on October 19th, while some of the Confederates began herding citizens onto the town common and taking their horses, others burst into the 3 local banks and began scooping up cash, securing a total of $20,000. Several of the townspeople resisted; while 2 of these were wounded, the only fatality was a Confederate sympathizer who stepped into the line of fire.

As word of the raid spread, local workmen and 2 Union soldiers on leave organized a posse, and the raiders hurriedly rode out of town to reach the Canadian border just after dark. there, Young split his men into small groups. The posse overtook a few, only to have them taken over by Canadian authorities, who ultimately arrested the others. Ignoring Union requests for extradiction, Canaduan courts ruled that Young and his men were soldiers under military orders and released them on bond as internees.

The raid attracted much attention, but no Union soldiers were diverted to guard border towns. If anything, the will of the Northern public was made stronger.

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