St. Albans Raid

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St. Albans Raid
Part of the American Civil War
St. Albans bank tellers being forced to pledge allegiance to the Confederacy,
DateOctober 19, 1864 (1864-10-19)
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
United States United States (Union) Confederate States of America Confederate States of America
Commanders and leaders
None Bennett H. Young
Local police officers and Vermont militia 21 men of the 8th Kentucky 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 raid from Canada by 21 Confederate soldiers. They had recently failed in engagements with the Union Army and evaded subsequent capture in the United States. The mission was to rob banks to raise money, and to trick the Union Army into diverting troops to defend their northern border against further raids. It took place in St. Albans, Vermont, on October 19, 1864. They got the money, killed a local, and escaped back to Canada.[1]


In this wartime incident, Kentuckian Bennett H. Young led the Confederate 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 Canada–US 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 city just 15 miles (24 km) from the Canada–U.S. border.


Young and two others checked into a local hotel on October 10, saying they had come from St. John's, Canada East, 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 city's three banks. They identified themselves as Confederate soldiers and took a total of $208,000 (US$ 3,330,000 in 2019). During the robberies, eight or nine Confederates held the villagers at gunpoint 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 city, 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.[2]

The raiders escaped to Canada, despite a delayed pursuit. In response to US demands, the 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 found.[3]

The release of the raiders angered American opinion. US Secretary of State William H. Seward let the British government know, "it is impossible to consider those proceedings as either legal, just or friendly towards the United States."[4]

As an unintended consequence, 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 that and so no further raids were made.

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.[5]

Battle or raid?[edit]

The Confederate raid by Confederate Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan into Ohio and Indiana in July 1863, and culminating in the Battle of Salineville is considered by many historians to be the northernmost land battle of the Civil War. The dispute arises over meaning of the word battle. The St. Albans raiders were not an official command of the Confederate army but connected to the Confederate Secret Service to conduct the St. Albans Raid. General Morgan's place of surrender at West Point, Ohio is considered to be the northernmost point reached by an officially organized Confederate military body during the Civil War.[6] The northernmost battle of the war came at sea at the Battle of Cherbourg (1864) at 49 degrees north latitude.


The 1954 film The Raid was loosely based on this incident.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilson, Dennis K. (1992), Justice under Pressure: The Saint Albans Raid and Its Aftermath, University Press of America, p. 203, ISBN 0819185094
  2. ^ Adam Mayers, Dixie & the Dominion: Canada, the Confederacy, and the War for the Union (2003) , pp 105-16, bhy a Canadian scholar. online
  3. ^ "Saint Albans Raid". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
  4. ^ Congressional series of United States public documents. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1870. p. 71.
  5. ^ Campi, James (2007). Civil War Sites, 2nd: The Official Guide to the Civil War Discovery Trail. Globe Pequot. p. 11. ISBN 0-7627-4435-9 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Schmidt Cahill, Lora; Mowery, David L (2014). Morgan's Raid Across Ohio: The Civil War Guidebook of the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail. p. 235. ISBN 9780989805438. Retrieved December 7, 2017 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "The Raid (1954)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 2, 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kazar, John D. (1964). "The Canadian View of the Confederate Raid on Saint Albans". Vermont History (1): 255–273.
  • Mayers, Adam, ' Dixie & the Dominion: Canada, the Confederacy, and the War for the Union (2003) , pp 105-16, bhy a Canadian scholar. online
  • Stouffer, Allen P. (1977). "Canadian-American Relations in the Shadow of the Civil War". Dalhousie Review. 57 (2): 332–346.
  • Rush, Daniel S.; Pewitt, E. Gale (2008). Riedel, Leonard W. (ed.). The St. Albans Raiders. Saline, Michigan: McNaughton and Gunn.

External links[edit]