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The Battle of St. Albans

October 19, 1864 in St. Albans, Vermont

Union Forces Commanded by:
Forces Killed Wounded Captured
- 1 1 -

Confederate Forces Commanded by:
Bennett Young
Forces Killed Wounded Captured
21 - - -

**Missing and Captured
Conclusion: Confederate Victory


In 1864, St. Albans was a quiet village on Lake Champlain in upstate Vermont, just 15 miles from the Canadian border.  Far from the bloody battlefields and devastation, life in St. Albans had changed little since the start of the war.
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.
On October 10, three young men checked into a local hotel. The spokesman signed the register as Bennett Young and explained that they had come from St. John's, Canada, for a sporting vacation. Every day or so, 2 or 3 more men would arrive until there was a total of 21. All were young, averaging age 23, and friendly. 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. Young ordered the men to set the town on fire. They had brought along 4-ounce bottles of "Greek Fire", a chemical that would burst into flame when exposed to air, but when they smashed their bottles against the buildings, the stuff would not burn.
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.
Their goals in the raid, which was authorized by the Confederate government, were to gather cash for the Confederate treasury and to divert Union troops away from the Confederate armies in order to protect their Northern border.
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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