This Web site is dedicated to the preservation of one small but unique chapter of the Civil War, an improbable day more significant than thousands of others in a community that was first settled nearly 240 years ago.
The St. Albans Raid of Oct. 19, 1864 attracted wide spread attention in a nation divided. It brought home to the North the terror that until then had been witnessed only on the battlefield. For the South it was a momentary victory, an act of retribution that required considerable planning, coordination, espionage, luck, and – yes – courage.
The bank robberies that day decimated savings stored in three local banks and ultimately were to cause or contribute to their ruin. It resulted in shootings on the streets and a murder that later would be deemed a casualty of war.
Vermont was to give more men per capita to the war than any state and the 1864 attack on St. Albans was an additional reminder of the perils of the bloody conflict. While all eyes in St. Albans had been focused on the front lines to the south, not a stone’s throw to the north, Quebec Canada was rife with Southern sympathizers, some of whom conspired with the Confederates to launch the raid. Within a year the public mood in Quebec would successfully challenge those sentiments, but not until diplomatic relations became greatly strained between the U.S. and Great Britain, of which Canada was then a part.
Like all communities, St. Albans resides in the shadows — literally and figuratively — of its past. The “northernmost action of the Civil War” is as real here as the buildings and places that remain from that day now close to 150 years ago. Those residents who played key roles as that day unfolded are not strangers. They walked where we walk, they invested in the same community we treasure today. They are buried in our cemeteries.
And so it was, early in 2011, that a diverse group of St. Albans residents began meeting at the St. Albans Historical Museum (a treasure trove of raid memorabilia and former academy from which schoolchildren witnessed the raid). The aim was to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the raid for what it was — a difficult day in a difficult period of national strife — to recall those who were involved on both sides of the struggle, and to note the change that has followed them.
In the process, the St. Albans Raid Commemoration Committee — comprised of historians, current and past community officials, respected military veterans, and volunteers from all walks of life — have given hundreds of hours to plan for the Sept. 18-21, 2014 commemoration events. The State of Vermont has bestowed upon it the title of Vermont’s Most Significant Civil War Event for 2014.
The Peoples Trust Company and Rotary Club of St. Albans, Legacy sponsors of the 2014 event, are to be thanked for their early and ongoing support. There remains room for more sponsors and additional volunteers.
This Aug. 17-18, 2013, a third St. Albans Civil War Heritage Weekend took place on Taylor Park. Learn more about this year’s living-history event in the News and Events sections of this site.
The overarching goal of the St. Albans Raid Commemoration Committee is to provide tribute to those who were witness to that day so long ago, and to celebrate the United States, all North and South, East and West of it – a nation one and undivided; a people who still learn from their past.
We invite you to visit us from Sept. 18-21, 2014 to relive the St. Albans Raid while enjoying the hospitality of northwestern Vermont during the beautiful fall foliage season.
The St. Albans Raid Commemoration Committee