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Cecil Clay
Born (1842-02-13)February 13, 1842
Died September 23, 1903(1903-09-23) (aged 61)
Place of birth Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Place of death Washington, D.C.
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Brevet Brigadier General
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch USA Army
District of Columbia National Guard
Years of service 1861–1866 (Army)
1887–1897 (National Guard)
Rank Union army lt col rank insignia.jpg Lieutenant Colonel
Union army brig gen rank insignia.jpg Brevet Brigadier General (Army)
Union army col rank insignia.jpg Colonel (National Guard)
Unit 58th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars American Civil War
Awards Medal of Honor
Relations Joseph Clay (grandfather)
John Randolph Clay (uncle)
Other work Lumber merchant; chief clerk, United States Department of Justice

Cecil Clay (February 13, 1842 – September 23, 1903) was captain of Company K in the 58th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He performed gallantly while wounded, earning the award of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during the assault and capture of Fort Harrison, Virginia in the Confederate defenses of Richmond, Virginia on September 29, 1864. He was later chief clerk of the United States Department of Justice.

Early life

Cecil Clay was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 13, 1842.[1] As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, he joined the fraternity St. Anthony Hall.[2]

Civil war

Cecil Clay was first lieutenant on September 1, 1861 and captain on January 1, 1862 of company K of the 58th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment.[1] He was promoted to Major on September 30, 1864 and to Lieutenant Colonel on November 19, 1864.[1]

Clay earned the Medal of Honor while serving with the 58th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment on September 29, 1864 at Fort Harrison, Virginia, where he was wounded in action, losing his right arm and severely wounded in the left arm while leading a charge, carrying the colors of another regiment.[1] The medal was actually issued on April 19, 1892.[1]

Clay was mustered out of the volunteer service on January 24, 1866.[1] On February 24, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Clay for appointment to the brevet grade of brigadier general of volunteers, to rank from March 13, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on April 10, 1866.[3]

Later life

After the war, Clay became a lumber merchant.[1] He was President of the St. Lawrence Boom and Manufacturing Company in 1870. From 1883 to 1903, he was chief clerk and general Agent, United States Department of Justice.[1] He was a colonel in the 2nd [regiment] D.C. National Guard, 1887–1897. He also was president, Board of Reform School, Washington, D.C.

Medal of Honor citation

Rank and organization: Captain, Company K, 58th Pennsylvania Infantry. Place and date: At Fort Harrison, Va., September 29, 1864. Entered service at:------. Birth: Philadelphia, Pa. Date of issue: April 19, 1892. Citation:

Led his regiment in the charge, carrying the colors of another regiment, and when severely wounded in the right arm, incurring loss of same, he shifted the colors to the left hand, which also became disabled by a gunshot wound.


Cecil Clay died September 23, 1907 at Washington, D.C.[1] He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3. p. 176
  2. Fraternity of Delta Psi (1889). Catalogue of the Members of the Fraternity of Delta Psi. 
  3. Eicher, 2001, p. 742


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