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Towards Confederation

Influence of the American Civil War

The St. Albans Raid

Photograph: St. Albans raiders


The St. Albans raiders.

On October 19, 1864, a group of Confederate agents, dressed in civilian clothes, robbed three banks in the village of St. Albans, Vermont. Their take was $200,000. On stolen horses, killing one American pursuer on the way, they fled across the Canadian border to Montréal.

The Canadian government arrested the raiders and returned the money but these actions did not calm the fears or reduce the anger of the Northern states who saw in it hostility to the Northern cause. American troops were ordered to pursue the raiders into Canada and wipe them out if necessary. If this had been done it would have violated Canadian neutrality and war could have resulted. President Lincoln revoked the order realizing that a Canadian-American conflict would only serve to help the South. Nevertheless it was rumoured that the United States would abrogate the Reciprocity Treaty in retaliation.

For a dramatic account see "The Latest from Quebec," Montreal Gazette, October 20, 1864.

See also "Late American Telegrams" on the raid from The Colonial Standard (Pictou, N.S.), October 25, 1864.