Attack on Main Street: Vermont City Commemorates Civil War Assault

The St. Albans Raid brought the Civil War to northwestern Vermont, with Confederates attacking the downtown

St. Albans, Vermont, is marking 150 years since a brazen attack by a band of Confederates during the Civil War. The assault, known as the St. Albans Raid, is regarded as the nation's northernmost land skirmish during the Civil War. "It's a really important part of our local history," said Mayor Liz Gamache of St. Albans.

St. Albans City and St. Albans Town are remembering the day a group of Confederates snuck in from nearby Canada, simultaneously robbing several banks in St. Albans and escaping with cash that amounted to a fortune at the time. The men also shot up the downtown, and had plans of burning it to the ground.

Thankfully, that destruction plot failed. Many of men were arrested within a day, and tens of thousands of dollars were returned to the banks.

"It really brought the Civil War right here; right in the heart of St. Albans," Gamache told New England Cable News.

Reenactments, tours, concerts, and other events this weekend will remind the community of the events of 150 years ago. For more information on the St. Albans Raid, as well as a schedule of events planned for this weekend, visit this website.

St. Albans is one of several places in Vermont commemorating 150 years since the Civil War.

The University of Vermont's Fleming Museum has unveiled three separate exhibits for the fall, including contemporary statements on slavery, race, and violence from artist Kara Walker. Wartime objects, letters from soldiers, and journalistic drawings from the front lines are also on view.

Two of the exhibits, "Civil War Era Drawings From the Becker Collection" and "Kara Walker: Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)" are on view through mid-December. The third, "Civil War Objects From the University of Vermont Collections," will remain at the museum through mid-May of next year.

"Vermont regiments were the first to respond to Lincoln's call for volunteers," said Margaret Tamulonis of the Fleming Museum, describing one of the many impacts the Civil War had on Vermont. "If you count it per capita, Vermont had one of the largest losses during the war."

Click here for more information on the Fleming Museum's Civil War exhibitions.

In an exhibition opening this Sunday, the acclaimed Shelburne Museum is showing Civil War-era textiles. Uniforms, quilts, and more from both the North and South will be on view.

"This is an extremely vivid culture," said Shelburne Museum director Tom Denenberg, describing the rich reds, whites, and blues of the fabrics included in the exhibition, titled "Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts and Context in the Civil War."

The textiles on view will convey a message that men, women, and people on the battlefield and back at home all experienced the pains of war and social tumult 150 years ago, Denenberg said. "[The exhibition] tells the story of the Civil War as seen through textiles," he added.

The Shelburne Museum exhibition will remain on view through early January. Visit the museum's website for more on the show, as well as other offerings at the Vermont landmark:.

Back in St. Albans, Mayor Gamache said she hopes visitors to her community this weekend will notice recent improvements to St. Albans through a major revitalization of the downtown area. In that way, the St. Albans Raid looks both to the future and the past, she said. "I think it's really important to remember our heritage and our history," Gamache told NECN, smiling. 

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