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Civil War Soldiers - Clay

Clay, Cassius M., major-general, U.S. Army, was born in Madison county, Ky., Oct. 19, 1810. He attended Centre college, Ky., and Transylvania university, and was graduated from Yale in 1832. Gen. Clay's career was that of an abolitionist and diplomatist rather than a soldier, though the part he took in war was most creditable to him. Entering the Mexican war as captain of a volunteer company which had already as an organization distinguished itself at Tippecanoe in 1811, he was taken prisoner, in 1847, with several others, while more than 100 miles in advance of the main army, and saved the lives of the party by gallantry and presence of mind. He was appointed by President Lincoln, March 28, 1861, minister to Russia, and was preparing to leave when the national capital was threatened. He enlisted volunteers and organized Clay's battalion, which he commanded until troops from the North arrived, and then left for St. Petersburg, where his influence did much to make the Czar favorable to the Union. Resigning in June, 1862, he accepted a position as major-general of volunteers, which he held until the following March, when he resigned to become again minister to Russia. Gen. Clay was for years a picturesque figure in national politics. Before the war he was an ardent abolitionist, and published, in spite of mob violence, and threats upon his life, a paper called "The True American" which he circulated in Kentucky. He was an important figure in almost every national election until after the defeat of Blaine, in 1884, when he retired to a quiet life at his home, "Whitehall," Ky., where he lived to an extreme old age.

Source: The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-1865, Volume 8 Biographical, 1908

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