Michelle Arnosky Sherburne
The History Press, 2014, 189 pp., $199.99
Image courtesy of amazon.com
In the annals of the Battle of Gettysburg, there is always talk about the High Water Mark. While the area of the monument is somewhat contended, there are even those that state the monument should be farther north in Pennsylvania somewhere around Carlisle. The events which occurred in St. Albans are known, but not well known enough for all to admit. In this work, Michelle Arnosky Sherburne gives us a window into the conflict which occurred in northern Vermont which brings forth the thought as to what the actual High Water Mark is in the history of the Confederacy. In this work, Sherburne brings us a study into the actuality through fine research and sweeping narrative.
Michelle Arnosky Sherburne has worked in the newspaper business since she graduated high school and was originally from Pennsylvania. Ever since the 1990s, she pursued freelance writing and began researching the history of Vermont mainly on the effects of the Underground Railroad for about two decades. She has also authored Abolition and the Underground Railroad in Vermont and the co-editor of A Vermont Hill Town in the Civil War: Peacham’s Story. She still works in the newspaper industry and tours around the state of Vermont giving historical presentations and lectures in the schoolroom.
When we usually think of the American Civil War, Vermont is the last thing when it comes to a battlefield. However, in the fall of 1864, the town of St. Albans was part of an attack from raiders. In this narrative, which reads somewhat like a thriller novel, Sherburne splits the raid into three main stages: Setting the Stage, the Raid itself, and the Trials of the Raiders in Canada. Throughout the first part of the story, Sherburne gives us a description not only of the raiders themselves, but of the town and the people residing. She also describes some of the weapons the raiders were using including Greek Fire. She also describes the Confederate Secret Service not only in this incident, but in other aspects of the war. As I stated before, much of the second section on the raid read like a thriller novel. Some of the events which occurred were quite horrifying not because of the action, but because this event is not heard in Civil War history as much as it should. The second part of the raid which was just as thrilling was the chase of the raiders which eventually led to their arrest. After the arrest of the raiders, the third section details the arrests and trials which the raiders went through.
I highly recommend The St. Albans Raid to anyone who is interested into the more unknown aspects of the war. This war touched everyone even when the action of the battlefield was far away from the state of Virginia. This work shows that even the terrible reality of war could reach a state so northern as Vermont. I praise Sherburne for bringing this subject more to the light of the public. There are some who already know about the raid, but for those who find this to be new information, this book is highly recommended.