St. Albans Raid

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St. Albans Raid
Part of the American Civil War
Stalbansraid.JPG
St. Albans bank tellers being forced to pledge allegiance to the Confederacy,
Date October 19, 1864 (1864-10-19)
Location St. Albans (town), Vermont
44°48′37″N 73°09′08″W / 44.81028°N 73.15222°W / 44.81028; -73.15222Coordinates: 44°48′37″N 73°09′08″W / 44.81028°N 73.15222°W / 44.81028; -73.15222
Result Confederate victory
Belligerents
United States United States (Union) Confederate States of America CSA (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
Bennett H. Young
Strength
21 cavalry
Casualties and losses
1 killed
2 wounded
1 wounded

The St. Albans Raid was the northernmost land action of the American Civil War. It was a controversial raid from Canada by Confederate soldiers meant to rob banks in retaliation for the Union Army burning Southern cities and to force the Union Army to divert troops to defend their northern border. It took place in St. Albans, Vermont on October 19, 1864.[1]

Background[edit]

In this unusual war-time incident, Kentuckian Bennett H. Young led the Confederate States Army forces. Young had been captured after the Battle of Salineville in Ohio ended Morgan's Raid the year before. He managed to escape to Canada, then part of the British Empire. After meeting with Confederate agents there, he returned to the Confederacy, where he proposed raids on the Union from the Canadian border to build the Confederate treasury and force the Union Army to divert troops from the South. Young was commissioned as a lieutenant and returned to Canada, where he recruited other escaped Confederates for a raid on St. Albans, Vermont, a quiet town 15 miles (24 km) from the Canadian border.

Raid[edit]

Young and two others checked into a local hotel on October 10, saying they had come from St. John's for a "sporting vacation". Two or three more men arrived daily, until by October 19, 21 Confederate cavalrymen had assembled. Shortly before 3 p.m. the men staged simultaneous robberies of the town's three banks. They identified themselves as Confederate soldiers and took a total of $208,000. During the robberies, eight or nine Confederates held the villlagers at gun point on the village green, taking their horses to prevent pursuit. Several armed villagers tried to resist, and one was killed and another wounded. Young ordered his men to burn the town, but the 4-US-fluid-ounce (120 ml) bottles of Greek fire they used failed to ignite, and only one shed was destroyed by fire.

The raiders escaped to Canada, despite a delayed pursuit. In response to U.S. demands, the embarrassed Canadian authorities arrested the raiders, recovering $88,000. However, a Canadian court ruled that because they were soldiers under military orders, officially neutral Canada could not extradite them. Canada freed the raiders, but returned to St. Albans the money they had found.

Ironically, the raid served to turn many Canadians against the Confederacy, since they felt that Canada was being drawn into the conflict without its consent. The Confederate agents in Canada realized this and no further raids were made.

The 1954 film The Raid was loosely based on this incident.

Only one of the three banks still stands, the Franklin County Bank, which became the Franklin Lamoille Bank and is now a TD Bank branch. Other sites surviving are Taylor Park and the American House, where some of the raiders stayed.[2]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Wilson, 1992
  2. ^ Campi p.11

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Kazar, John D. "The Canadian View of the Confederate Raid on Saint Albans," Vermont History 1964 (1): 255-273,
  • Stouffer, Allen P. "Canadian-American Relations in the Shadow of the Civil War," Dalhousie Review 1977 57(2): 332-346
  • Wilson, Dennis K. Justice under Pressure: The Saint Albans Raid and Its Aftermath (1992). 224 pp.
  • Rush, Daniel S. and Pewitt, E. Gale "The St. Albans Raiders" (2008) Riedel, Leonard W. ed. McNaughton and Gunn, Saline Michigan.

External links[edit]