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150th Anniversary (1864–2014) This Month in the Civil War: St. Albans Raid

Civil War Collection 150th Anniversary

On October 19, 1864, a small force of Confederates launched a raid from Canada on St. Albans, Vermont, just 15 miles from the border, in the northernmost engagement of the Civil War. Almost two dozen Confederates—mainly escaped prisoners of war—trickled into the Vermont town over the course of a few days so as not to arouse suspicion. The plan was to rob the town’s banks, and on the afternoon of the 19th they did just that, holding up three banks at the same time. The leader of the raiders, 21-year-old Bennett Young supposedly announced, “I take possession of this town in the name of the Confederate States of America!”

American editorial in response to Canada releasing the raidersWhile some of the Confederates were robbing the banks, others were stealing horses for the getaway and keeping nearby townspeople on the village green at gunpoint so they couldn’t interfere with the robberies or alert the authorities. When all was said and done, one man from the town had been killed, a few others were wounded, and the robbers had netted about $200,000—roughly $3 million in today’s currency. After unsuccessfully trying to burn the town, the raiders took off back to Canada with their haul. Under pressure from the United States, the Canadians apprehended the raiders (though they didn’t extradite them and later released them). Only about $87,000 of the stolen money was recovered.


  1. Joellen says:

    Thanks for sharing. Great historical fact that was previously unknown to me.

  2. Chief Boring says:

    I was taught about the St. Albans raid in the early 50s, in high school, where a wonderful history teacher, George Griffin, engendered my love of the subject. If I remember correctly, there was a movie about the raid. The St. Albans episode was similar to the later 1876 raid by the James gang on a town in Minnesota, which was a disaster.

    • Chris h says:

      The raid was in Northfield mn, growing up in Missouri people still talk about it “Jesse never should’ve gone up there”

    • Richard Sutton says:

      Disaster only for the James Gang. Northfield got famous.

    • Doc Smith says:

      Wall..hit must a ben tha cold watha that caused tha
      dear James boys ta get caught….addled Thea brains….

  3. Allan Pressley says:

    I have enjoyed studying and reading about the civil war for years,I just learned something new,thanks,

  4. Frank M. Phelan says:

    Though my high school history back in the mid-1950s included main events of the U.S. Civil War, I only discovered the St. Albans raid from a history book club offering during the summer of 1955. I cringe when I think of how little high schoolers are taught about American history these days, especially the importance of our last century, the 20th.

    • RC Bates says:

      American students have never been taught the truth. It was not Thomas Edison who discovered AC current and it was not Marconi who discovered how to build a radio. It was Nicola Tesla’s ideas all the way. It was also Tesla’s idea to start the Patent system. He had been riped off so many times I guess he couldn’t take it any longer

  5. Lou says:

    I loved learning tidbits like this one.

    Sadly, teaching history is not about teaching the truth. It is about perpetuating the version that the conquerors want carried on, and that includes the Union after defeating the Confederacy.

    We have all heard about Andersonvilke, that tragic prison in the South, but what about the prison in Chicago and that Lincoln knew about the conditions there and “supported” them.

    It was a war and it was ugliness on all sides. That is the nature of war.

    • Pat says:

      It’s been a well known fact that ‘recorded history’ belongs to the victor. It’s not just here in America, it’s in every country, after every armed conflict.

    • Fred says:

      Don’t forget Elmira, NY or Point Lookout, MD. I lost ancestors at both of these and one, that I have found out, to a train derailment, losing 600 Southern POW’s, transporting prisoners from Elmira to Ohio.

  6. Tommy W says:

    I enjoy reading about history especially the civil war. I recall being taught by the offspring of some of the confederate soldiers and after all of the changes thats been forced on the south, the loosers, I still consider myself a southener first and an american second at best.

  7. Gerald Dougherty says:

    If you wish to get some insights into the families of the Civil War, Try ANN’S LETTERS, a book of the letters from soldiers in the Civil War and their families. The letters, just recently released, are first hand reports from the soldiers and families and tell the picture of the war from their own eyes. COMPARE YOUR LIFE today with the lives of the families in the 1860’s, who had devastating diseases, without any medicines or vaccines, and whose wives and children had to hold the farms together, as the men were fighting the War! Available on BN.COM, and
    TRY IT! YOU WILL LIKE IT!!! ANN’S LETTERS, by Gerald Dougherty

    • Jean Daugherty says:

      Hi Gerald,
      I love reading about the Civil War. I will check out “Anns
      letters” on Amazon. Thanks for the information.

      By the way, we are probably related somehow.

  8. Gerald Dougherty says:

    The families of the 1860’s were not much different from ours, except they had No electricity, No gas heat, No TV, radio or telephones, No computers, facebook, Twitter, or autos, planes, trucks, or bicycles. If they needed to visit a sister a couple miles away, they had to take the horse out of the field, hitch to a wagon and spend a long time. Didn’t happen very often! Made their own clothes, grew their own food. No fast food, hotdogs, soda pop or beer! Often had several kids sick at the same time, and old folks as well, and mom probably didn’t feel too well, either! Read about it in ANN’S LETTERS, by Gerald Dougherty,, BN.COM,, TRY IT!!

  9. Alice says:

    I enjoyed reading the information above about the civil war, uprisings and have to say I am more interested in other parts of American history at this time. That said my grandmother’s sister lived in Hyde Park Vermont (a short stint south of St. Albans) after she married the son of a Civil War Union Soldier.

    My great uncle’s family were dairy farmers with 600 acres of maple trees and grass fields for the cows to graze. They had a natural spring that provided running water 24/7 that lasted until just a few years ago. My grandmother and her 4 siblings great aunt grew up in New York City.

    My great aunt met my great uncle by attending a party in Vermont.
    My grandmother, her other sister and my father and his siblings would take the train from NYC to Montpellier to visit. My father can’t remember how they were picked up from the train station but he seems to think they drove a car from the farm. Things remained the same on the farm to this day. His grandfather’s photo in Civil War Union uniform as well as the drum and many other artifacts are still at the farm – which I visited just two years ago. Unfortunately my dad’s cousin never married so he has no one to inherit his legacy so the state of Vermont will simple devour Rob’s wealth to pay for the 24 hour care they give to him in his 98th year of life. Say la vie. My point is posting this is to put forward a little more perspective as to how life was back 150 years ago. People took time to be with each other. Not everyone thought it a burden to go visit family hundreds of miles away.

  10. Diane Blanchard says:

    Did you ever come across Brigadier General Henry Harnden in you Civil War Journey?

  11. rich klein says:

    There was a movie in the 1950s about the raid.

  12. Candace Welsh-Payne says:

    This is something I hadn’t ever heard. Thank you for sharing. My daughter lives near there and son-in-law works in New Albans so it comes alive to me.

  13. Doc Smith says:

    Of all the peoples who walk this earth..are but a handful
    compared to those who are in the dust….a g.g.g.g. might
    be hiding under ur bed……booh!

  14. Thor says:

    What do you think about the recent revelation that Harvard students are so misinformed that they think that America is LESS responsible for “world peace” than ISIS (the butchers beheading volunteers in Syria & Iraq!! Think how things will be remembered in 200 years!!

  15. BRUCE says:

    Never really thought anything special happened on my birth date (October 19th) except of course me being born untill reaing this. Thanks for the heads up. Makes me want to read more about the little things not mentioned in the history books. I’ll be checking into reading ANN’S LETTERS.

  16. Elizabeth Cota says:

    I enjoyed reading this article about the raid during the Civil War. My father grew up in St. Albans (moved to Connecticut when he married my mother) and we used to go there every summer and rent a cottage on Lake Champlain. It is a beautiful part of the country. It’s hard to imagine how life was 150 years ago but I’d like to read Ann’s Letter’s to find out more about it. I have seen the movie called “The Raid” on TV many years ago and it was actually well done.