Graduate University of Pennsylvania, 1859, Master of Arts
He performed gallantly while wounded, earning the 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. As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, he joined the fraternity Saint Anthony Hall.
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.
He was promoted to Major on September 30, 1864 and to Lieutenant Colonel on November 19, 1864. The medal was actually issued on April 19, 1892.
Clay was mustered out of the volunteer service on January 24, 1866. 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 United States. Senate confirmed the appointment on April 10, 1866.
After the war, Clay became a lumber merchant.
He was President of the Saint Lawrence Boom and Manufacturing Company in 1870. From 1883 to 1903, he was chief clerk and general Agent, United States Department of Justice. He was a colonel in the 2nd District of Columbia National Guard, 1887-1897.
He also was President, Board of Reform School, Washington, District of Columbia Cecil Clay died September 23, 1907 at Washington, District of Columbia He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.
Married Anna Wood Kester, June 8, 1865.