Tag Archives: Vermont

From J. Webster Stebbins, 9th Vermont

Letter from 1st Sergeant J. Webster Stebbins of Company I, 9th Vermont Volunteer Infantry, to his mother after his regiment became one of the first to enter Richmond.

Richmond, Virginia

April 3rd, 1865

DEAR MOTHER:

Vermont flag | Image Credit: all-flags-world.com

Vermont flag | Image Credit: all-flags-world.com

The fated city has fallen and the black clouds of smoke from its burning ruins are rising to the heavens, and the pickets from the 9th Vermont were the first ones into the rebel capital.

We are in the works in the suburbs of the city. The enemy evacuated last night, and I have heard of no fighting at all today this side of the river. The rebels fired the arsenal Co. and the bridge across the James River also. We heard the shell in the arsenal bursting for half an hour.

The country is a fine looking one; some fine residences. So far as I have seen, the citizens are glad to see the Union soldiers coming…

At last dispatch from Grant, we learn that they had captured some 15,000 prisoners and any quantity of guns, etc. It was just five minutes of five this morning when we halted in this fort and planted our colors on the parapet, giving three cheers for the fall of Richmond.

Do not know when I will get this into the mail, but hope it is soon. My regards to all and much love for yourself. Write soon and direct to Richmond, Va.

Your Affectionate Son,

J.W. STEBBINS

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Source: Tapert, Annette (ed.), The Brothers’ War: Civil War Letters to Their Loved Ones from the Blue and Gray (New York: Vintage Books, 1988), p. 231

The St. Albans Raid

October 19, 1864 – Raiders targeted a Vermont town just over the Canadian border in what became the northernmost Confederate attack on Federal soil.

Bennett H. Young | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

The Confederate government had authorized Lieutenant Bennett H. Young and 20 of his fellow escaped or exchanged prisoners of war to attack Federal towns from Canada. It was hoped that this would divert Federal attention from other theaters of war and inspire Confederate sympathizers to rise up against Federal authority in the North.

Over the course of several days, Young and his raiders arrived at the town of St. Albans, about 20 miles from Canada. Posing as vacationers and hunters, they were given lodging at various town hotels and boardinghouses. The raiders planned to burn the town and, if possible, rob the banks before attacking similar towns along the border.

They gathered on the village green at 3 p.m. on the 19th, where Young announced that he was seizing the town on behalf of the Confederacy. Residents ignored him, thinking it was a joke, until the raiders fired their pistols. Some people resisted, resulting in the killing of one resident (ironically a Confederate sympathizer) and the wounding of another.

Instead of burning the town first, the raiders broke off into groups of threes and robbed the town’s three banks. Armed villagers soon began firing at the raiders from the buildings ringing the square, wounding three. The Confederates burned several buildings with Greek fire, but no substantial damage was done. They then raced off to Canada with $200,000 from the banks.

A Federal captain on furlough quickly organized a civilian posse to hunt down Young and his men, who had broken off into small groups. The posse captured a few of these groups, but since they were in Canada, Canadian officials quickly took charge of the prisoners. Ultimately Young and 12 of his men were apprehended by Canadian authorities, and about $75,000 was recovered.

Federal officials requested that Canada extradite the raiders to the U.S. However, the Canadians put the men on trial and, after ruling that they were soldiers acting under orders, they were released on bond. They were never tried in the U.S. The St. Albans raid caused a sensation in the press, but it did nothing to divert Federal attention or inspire Confederate sympathizers.

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References

Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 477; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 12292-302; Fowler, Robert H., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 651; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 510-11; Klein, Frederic S., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 780; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 585-86; Time-Life Editors, Spies, Scouts and Raiders: Irregular Operations (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 60-61