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Admin/Biog History THE ST. ALBANS RAID
October 19, 1864

Twenty cavalrymen, organized by Confederate agent George Sanders and led by Lieutenant Bennett Young, swooped down out of Canada and took over St. Albans, Vermont in what was to go down in history as the northernmost engagement of the Civil War. With his gun drawn, Young mounted the steps of a hotel and shouted: "This city is now in the possession of the Confederate States of America."
The battlefields of the Civil War suddenly didn't seem so far from this village about 15 miles south of the Canadian border. Shock and confusion followed as gun-toting horsemen galloped down Main Street, herding terror-stricken townfolk onto the Village Green.
The raiders then turned their attention to robbing the three local banks. Even though the Confederates dropped much of their loot in the confusion of escape, they still managed to make off with over $200,000. By the time residents could organize a pursuit, the marauders were well on their way back to the border.
As they left, they tried to burn down the town, but managed to destroy only a woodshed. They had evidently planned to burn the mansion of Governor J. Gregory Smith, who was in Montpelier at the time. Soon after the raid began, a maid from a neighbor's house rushed to Mrs. Smith, crying: "Rebels are in the town, robbing the banks, burning the houses, and killing people. They are on the way up the hill to burn your house!"
Mrs. Smith drew the shades and bolted the doors, all but the front entrance. Her first impulse had been to run up the flag. Instead looking for weapons, she found only a large horse pistol, but no ammunition. With this in hand she took her stand in front of the house. She could hear a horse galloping up the hill; it turned out to be not one of the raiders, but her brother-in-law, a member of General Custer's staff, home on leave. Later that night, soldiers were stationed at the governor's house.
One of the raiders was wounded and died shortly thereafter. The survivors were arrested in Montreal and tried, but never extradited despite energetic efforts by Washington. Lieutenant Young rose to the rank of General. When he again visited Montreal in 1911, a group of St. Albans dignitaries paid him a courtesy call at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Classification Archives
Collection Civil War Small Collections
Dates of Accumulation October 19, 1864
Abstract Two (2) telegrams from Montpelier, Vermont to Burlington, Vermont concerning the Confederate raid on St. Albans, Vermont from Canada. Messages are to the arming of the Militia under Colonel Redfield Proctor and Invalid Corps to halt the invasion. One is from Governor J. Gregory Smith, the other from Adjutant & Inspector General Peter T. Washburn. Both are addressed to Carolus Noyes, who was one of the Selectmen of Burlington, Vermont.
Event Civil War
Category 8: Communication Artifact
Legal Status Oshkosh Public Museum
Object ID SC411.5.76
Object Name Telegram
People Smith, J. Gregory
Washburn, Peter T.
Proctor, Redfield
Noyes, Carolus
Subjects Civil War
Confederate States of America
Secret service
Title Telegram
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Last modified on: December 12, 2009