George S. Clay

George S. Clay was born in 1838 or 1840, in Michigan, the son of William (b. 1811) and Esther (b. 1815).

George’s parents emigrated from England to the United States eventually settling in Michigan before 1840. By 1850 George was living with his family in Detroit where his father worked as a barber. By 1860 George was probably working as an “electrolyker” and living with his family in Detroit’s Fifth Ward.

George was probably living in Ionia County when he enlisted at the age of 21 years as Fourth Corporal in Company E on May 13, 1861.

Although the details are unclear, apparently on September 4, 1862, George was transferred to the Fifteenth Michigan infantry at Fort Lyon, Virginia, where he was commissioned Second Lieutenant as of August 9, and was mustered on September 15 at Detroit.

The Fifteenth Michigan was organized at Detroit, Monroe and Grand Rapids between October 16, 1861 and March 13, 1862, was mustered into service on March 20 and moved to Benton Barracks, Missouri, near St. Louis and then on to Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, March 27-April 5. It participated in the battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, and in the siege of Corinth April 29-May 30 and in the battle of Corinth October 3-4. It was in garrison and provost duty at Grand Junction and Lagrange from November until June of 1863. George was Acting Regimental Adjutant in April of 1863 when he was assigned to Company D.

The regiment was ordered to Vicksburg, Mississippi on June 3 and participated in the siege and eventually in the capture of the city, June 11-July 4. It then advanced to Jackson, Mississippi, July 4-10 and laid siege July 10-17. It was in camp at Big Black until September when it moved to Memphis and then on to Chattanooga, Tennessee, September 28-November 20. George was absent on leave from September 21, 1863.

The Fifteenth participated in operations along the Memphis & Charleston railroad in Alabama in October and in the relief of Knoxville November 28-December 8. It was in camp at Scottsboro, Alabama until February of 1864.

George was transferred to Company E on February 10, 1864, and he either resigned on July 18, 1864 (while the regiment was engaged in the Atlanta campaign) or was dismissed on July 28, 1864 by S.O. No. 161, Headquarters Department of the Tennessee. He claimed in later years that he was discharged from the army on July 18, 1864, at the expiration of his term of service, i.e., that he was mustered out. The reasons for this are unclear, however.

Following his release from the army he returned to Detroit where for many years he was a machine worker. (His parents, William and Esther were still living in Detroit in 1870.)

George married Detroit–born Josephine (b. 1840) and they had at least one child, a son: Walter S. (b. 1857).

By 1880 George was working as an “electrolyker” and living with his wife and son in Detroit. He was listed as married when first admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 1612) on November 22, 1891, discharged in March of 1893, readmitted April 17, 1893 and discharged on May 14, 1894 again at his own request.

In 1887 he applied for a pension (application no. 633,136) but the certificate was never granted.

He was married a second time to Alice M.

George was admitted to the Northwestern Branch National Military Home, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he was reportedly killed on December 29, 1894, and was interred in Wood National Cemetery in Milwaukee: section 11, grave no. 11.

In 1898 his widow, then apparently living in Michigan, also applied for a pension (no. 672,801), but the certificate was never granted.