This Place in History: St. Albans Raid

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This Place in History brings us to the St. Albans Raid, one of the most infamous events in Vermont history.

“We’re hundreds of miles from the nearest fighting,” said Vermont Historical Society executive director Steve Perkins. “In bucolic and beautiful downtown St. Albans. You have this October afternoon and Confederate raiders come charging into town. Rob banks, burn a bridge, generally create mayhem and run back across the Canadian border.”

The St. Albans Museum has a ‘raid room’ dedicated to that day. Jim Murphy is an expert.

“There are so many stories about what happened during the raid,” Murphy said. “The man who was shot and killed by one of the raiders, he was a Southern sympathizer. It was really interesting to find that out after many years later.”

The raid room is full of posters, paintings, and memorabilia from the raid.

“The bank says it was $208,000 that was stolen but they’d never been able to prove it.” said Murphy. “Some of the money that we have here, which is from the St. Albans Franklin County Bank.”

Murphy tells another story involving the Governor’s wife’s role in the raid.

“J. Gregory Smith, who was the Governor of the state of Vermont at the time of the raid, was in Montpelier,” said Murphy. “But when Bennett Young came to town, he went up to the Smith estate because he had a beautiful set of stables for all their horses and he was looking for the best horses in town. And Mrs. Smith let him in and showed him around the area. That’s a story not many have heard but that’s what’s been told. But the day of the raid, she found out about the raid and she sat on her front porch with an old revolver.”

The St. Albans Museum is open Weds-Saturday and you can visit them online at stamuseum.org.

See all of our stories with the Vermont Historical Society here.

And get a map of all 200+ roadside historical markers here.

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