Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Green Clay Collection, 1753-1818

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, February 2010

Summary Information
Title: Green Clay collection
Creator: William L. Clements Library
Inclusive dates: 1753-1818
Bulk dates: 1813
Extent: 45 items
The Green Clay collection contains letters and administrative documents related to the Kentucky militia under General Green Clay in the War of 1812. Included are letters and orders from General Samuel South, Colonel William Dudley, and Lewis Cass.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1941-1997. M-421; M-1164g; M-2209; M-2935; M-3259.4; M-3413.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Green Clay Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


This collection is organized chronologically with undated items at the end.


Green Clay (1757-1828) was a militia general, a wealthy Kentucky landowner, and the father of abolitionist Cassius Clay. Born in Powhatan County, Virginia, Clay trained as a surveyor and explored Kentucky as a member of a surveying team from 1777 to 1780, at which time he became deputy surveyor of Lincoln County, Kentucky, for the state of Virginia. His first military experience was as a militia lieutenant for George Rogers Clark's 1782 expedition against the Shawnee Indians in Ohio. He became justice of the peace and a commander of the militia in Madison County, Kentucky, in 1785.

Clay represented Madison County in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1788-1789 and, as a participant in the state's constitutional ratifying committee, voted against approving the document. After Kentucky became a state, Clay represented Madison County in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1793-94, and in the State Senate from 1795-1798 and 1802-1808. He was Kentucky speaker of the Senate from 1807-1808 and left state politics after losing the governor's race in 1808.

During the War of 1812, Clay was commissioned major general in charge of a contingent of Kentucky militia in support of Commander William Henry Harrison's forces in Ohio. On May 5, 1813, Clay and his militia came to the aid of Harrison’s beleaguered troops at Fort Meigs, which was under siege by British and Native American forces. The enemy retreated on May 9th, and Clay took command of Fort Meigs until the end of his enlistment.

Clay was one of the richest men in Kentucky; he owned vast tracts of land in the state and had investments in farming, a Tennessee resort in Estill Springs, warehouses, 2 distilleries, and several taverns where he sold bourbon whiskey. In 1795, Clay married Sarah (Sallie) Ann Lewis; they had six children, including the anti-slavery politician, Kentucky congressman, and Russian diplomat, Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810-1903).

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Green Clay collection (45 items) contains letters and administrative documents related to the Kentucky militia under General Green Clay during the War of 1812. The collection consists of 20 letters, 8 military orders, 9 military documents (such as muster rolls, supplies and baggage disbursement, disciplinary actions, and receipts), 7 legal and financial documents, and 1 map.

The bulk of the collection consists of letters and orders documenting administrative decisions related to Clay's Kentucky militia. Several items are letters between Clay and General Samuel South (1767-1833), who lead the Kentucky Mounted Volunteers during the War of 1812. Clay also communicated orders to Colonel William Dudley, commander of the 13th regiment of the Kentucky Militia. These discuss raising and managing the militia, and relaying information on supplies and concerns over baggage train logistics, such as letters from the Brigade Quarter Master David Trimble and Colonel William E. Boswell (April 17, 1813 and April 20, 1813 respectively). An undated item describes the clothing supplies for 2000 militiamen. Three items concern military disciplinary actions. The first is a court martial summons for Lieutenant John Henderson of Captain Cushing’s artillery company, who was accused of behavior unbecoming of an officer (August 1, 1813). The other two are letters discuss the court martial charges of John McCurtry for desertion. In the letter from November 10, 1814, John's brother, Joseph McMurtry, explains to General Clay that an injury kept John from marching with the militia to Ohio, and in the letter from June 16, 1815, Joseph McMurtry argues that the desertion charges were politically motivated. Another notable item is Clay's letter resigning from the 2nd Division of the Kentucky Militia, in order "to give place to younger men, more capable to bear the fateagues of a campaign in distant Regions" (June 14, 1814).

In addition to letters and orders, the collection holds 6 muster rolls that document the 10th and 13th Kentucky regiments. These items contain officer lists, dates of commissions, general remarks, and basic data on sick leave and discharges.

The map is of Jersey Field in Montgomery County, New York, and is entitled: Patent dated April 12th 1770 deed of partition of 94,000 acres of land on the north side of the Mohawk River in the county of Tryon. This item is located in the Clements Library Map Division.

The collection also contains six documents that are not related to the Kentucky militia or the War of 1812, including letters regarding payments of debts, transfers of land deeds, and a testimony in a land dispute between James Hendricks and Green Clay (April 16, 1807). Another notable item is a letter from Lewis Cass, governor of the Michigan Territory, discussing the return of a man named Tanner after his capture by Native Americans (September 30, 1818).

Subject Terms

    • Fort Meigs (Ohio)--Siege, 1813.
    • Kentucky--Militia.
    • Kentucky. Militia. Regiment, 13th.
    • Ohio--History--War of 1812.
    • Pierce, Benjamin, 1757-1839.
    • Sherbrooke, John Coape, Sir, 1764-1830.
    • United States--History--War of 1812.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Maps, Manuscript.
    • Montgomery County (N.Y.)--Maps, Manuscript.
    • Real property--Maps, Manuscript.
    • Real property--New York (State)--Montgomery County--Maps, Manuscript.
    • Boswell, William E.
    • Cass, Lewis, 1782-1866.
    • Clay, Green, 1757-1826.
    • South, Samuel, 1767-1833.
    • Trimble, David, 1782-1842.
    Genre Terms:
    • Deeds.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Muster rolls.
    • Orders (military records)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   45, Small Collections  
    Green Clay collection [series]
    Folder   16  
     1753 July 18.
    Major Hamilton: Major Hamilton is to pay what he owes to Mr. Gowley.
     1753 September 20.
    From Richard Witton to the Sheriff of Lunenburg: A warrant to seize fifteen pounds from the estate of Jacob Watts, who owes that sum and who has recently left the county.
     1786 August 24.
    James Bullis; Kinderhook, New York: Deed signing over land in Vermont to Captain Peleg Sunderland for 35 pounds (located in oversize).
     1801 December 26.
    James Key to Thomas Harris: Settling accounts with Harris's brother.
    Folder   17  
     1807 April 16.
    James Richardson and James MacKay; St. Louis District, Louisiana Territory: Testimony of John Sappington and Joseph Wells in the matter of James Hendricks vs. Green Clay.
     1808 November 29.
    Samuel South to Green Clay: Regarding the state of the 13th Brigade of the Kentucky Militia; confirming receipt of copies of relevant documents.
     1809 August 13.
    J. C. Sherbrooke: Sworn statement that his horse was killed in action on July 28 near Talavera and claiming appropriate payment.
     1812 May 13.
    Andrew Bradley; Goose Creek, [Kentucky]: Receipt for orders from General White.
    Folder   18  
    Benjamin Letcher to Green Clay: Orders for the mustering of the 9th Brigade of the Kentucky Militia.
     1813 February 16-19.
    Green Clay to Samuel South: Notice that 6 copies of orders regarding raising a number of men are enclosed.
     1813 February 16-19.
    Green Clay to Samuel South: Copy of notice that 6 copies of orders regarding raising a number of men are enclosed.
     1813 March 4.
    Benjamin Pierce to Isaac Brooks; Hillsborough, [New Hampshire]: Benjamin Pierce describes celebrations he has recently taken part in, including many patriotic toasts.
    Folder   19  
     1813 March 14.
    William Logan to Green Clay; Shelby County: William Logan, despite his strong feelings of patriotism and desire to assist the cause, declines an offer to accompany Green Clay in the military.
     1813 March 19.
    Lexington, Kentucky: General orders for various regiments of the Kentucky Militia.
     1813 March 19.
    Green Clay to William Dudley; Lexington, Kentucky: General orders for various regiments of the Kentucky Militia.
     1813 April 5.
    Green Clay; Cincinnati, [Ohio]: General orders for the Brigade Inspector, Brigade Quartermaster, and commanding officers of various regiments of the Kentucky Militia.
    Folder   20  
     1813 April 9-12.
    Green Clay; Dayton, Ohio: General orders regarding the detachment of Lieutenant Colonel William E. Boswell to the New Hampshire Army; card playing and gambling are strictly prohibited.
     1813 April 13.
    Taylor to Henry Perry: Morning muster report for the 10th Regiment of the Kentucky Militia under William E. Boswell.
     1813 April 17.
    Green Clay; Piqua, Ohio: General orders regarding the appointment of two chaplains and a Horse Master.
     1813 April 17.
    Green Clay; Piqua, Ohio: General orders regarding the training of troops and treatment of "friendly Indians.”
    Folder   21  
     1813 April 17.
    David Trimble: Document regarding the return of baggage wagons and pack horses for the Kentucky Militia under command of Green Clay.
     1813 April 20.
    William E. Boswell to Green Clay: William Boswell relates his concern over the state of treatment of baggage.
     1813 April 20.
    Taylor: Morning muster report for the 10th Regiment of the Kentucky Militia.
     1813 April 20.
    Vaulallen; near Piqua, Ohio: Regimental report of the 13th Regiment of the Kentucky Militia.
    Folder   22  
     1813 April 21.
    Green Clay; Lorimies, [Ohio]: Orders regarding a new line of March for the Kentucky Militia on the way to St. Mary's, Ohio, and supplies for these regiments.
     1813 April 29.
    AD; Fort Amanda, [Ohio]: Morning regimental report for the 13th Regiment, Kentucky Militia.
     1813 May 8.
    Taylor; Fort Meigs, [Ohio]: Morning report of the 10th Regiment, Kentucky Militia with postscript addition from T.H. Pinsoth.
     1813 June 14.
    Hubbard B. Smith to Green Clay; Fort Winchester: Hubbard B. Smith describes his travels since being left behind at Piqua on account of rheumatism.
    Folder   23  
     1813 June 21.
    Thomas Mountjoy to Green Clay; Portage River, Ohio: Thomas Mountjoy believes that he will soon be attacked and will not be able to successfully resist due to a lack of men and ammunition.
     1813 July 5.
    Thomas Mountjoy to [Green Clay]; Portage River, Ohio: Thomas Mountjoy describes a deserter being sent to Green Clay.
     1813 August 1.
    Joseph Tinfley et al. to Green Clay; Camp Meigs, Ohio: The writers inform Green Clay that John Henderson is likely to face an imminent court martial for disorderly conduct.
     1813 August 11.
    William Ellis to Green Clay; Fayette, Kentucky: William Ellis recounts his experience exchanging money for prisoners taken by the British.
    Folder   24  
     1813 August 16.
    A.W. Rollins to Green Clay; Richmond, Kentucky: A.W. Rollins describes conditions in Kentucky, including a recent plague of yellow fever among returning soldiers and a swelling enthusiasm for the war effort.
     1813 September 10.
    Peter Dudley: Morning Regimental Report for a Brigade of Militia under the Command of Brigadier General Green Clay.
     1813 September 21.
    Samuel Howard to Green Clay; Lower Sandusky, [Ohio]: Samuel Howard has fallen ill and, as he can no longer take care of Green Clay’s horses, he has given them over to the care of Patrick Chass, who will require payment.
     1813 October 2.
    Thomas L. Hawkins to Green Clay; Bass Island, [Ohio]: Receipt for "one markee with poles complete."
    Folder   25  
     1814 June 14.
    Green Clay to Isaac Shelby; Clay resigns from his Major General post in the Kentucky Militia.
     1814 November 10.
    Joseph McMurtry to [Green Clay]; Harrodsburg, [Kentucky]: Joseph McMurtry, in light of his brother John being treated as a deserter, asks the recipient to clarify whether he issued an order for John’s arrest.
    E. Perkins to Green Clay: Summoning Green Clay to bear witness at the court martial of [John] McMurtry.
     1815 June 16.
    Joseph McMurtry to Green Clay: Joseph McMurtry asks Green Clay for evidence that he was summoned to give evidence at the court martial of his brother, John McMurtry.
     1816 April 1.
    Samuel South to Green Clay: Samuel South gives the dates for various regimental musters and invites Green Clay to watch the 13th Brigade of the Kentucky Militia in September .
    Folder   26  
     1818 September 30.
    Lewis Cass to Green Clay: Lewis Cass recounts the return of a man named Tanner after his capture by Native Americans.
    Vaulallen: List of the names and rank of the officers in the 13th Regiment of the Kentucky Militia.
    Otto Hamilton to [William] Adair: Otto Hamilton describes three muster rolls enclosed with his letter.
    AD: Document regarding clothing supplies for 2,000 men.
    Folder   : Oversize Manuscripts  
     1786 August 24.
    James Bullis; Kinderhook, New York: Deed signing over land in Vermont to Captain Peleg Sunderland for 35 pounds.
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    The following map is housed in the Clements Library Map Division: A Map of Jersey Field

    Related Materials

    Combs, Leslie. Col. Wm. Dudley's defeat opposite Fort Meigs: May 5th, 1813. Official report from Captain Leslie Combs to General Green Clay. Cincinnati: Printed for William Dodge [by] Spiller & Gates, 1869.

    Greene, David C. White Hall state shrine, home of General Green Clay and his son General Cassius Marcellus Clay. Richmond, Ky.: the author, 1972.

    The Clements Library's Forgeries Collection holds one related item: Simon Kenton to Green Clay, November 30, 1810

    The Clements Library's Christopher Van Deventer papers hold several copies of orders by Green Clay, March 19, April 5, 9, 12, 17 (2), 21, 1813


    Ward, Harry M. "Clay, Green." American National Biography Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

    Partial Subject Index
    Bradley, Andrew.
    • 1809, May 13
    Courts-martial and courts of inquiry.
    • 1813, August 1
    Deeds-Land Titles.
    • 1786, August 24
    Ellis, L.M.
    • 1813, August 11
    Communications, military – equipment and supplies.
    • 1813, April 17
    • 1813, April 20
    Kentucky Militia--War of 1812--Campaigns--Regulations.
    • 1808, November 29
    • 1813, February 16 (rough draft)
    • 1813 February 19 (final draft)
    Hamilton, Major.
    • 1753, July 18
    Hamilton, Otho.
    • n.d.
    Hawkins, Thomas. L.
    • 1813, October 2
    Hollins, A. W.
    • 1813, September 11
    Howard, Samuel.
    • 1813, September 21
    Key, James.
    • 1801, December 26
    Logan, William.
    • 1813, March 14
    • n.d.
    McMurtry, Joseph.
    • 1814, November 10
    • 1815, June 16
    Mountjoy, Thomas.
    • 1813, June 21
    • 1813, July 5
    Muster Reports.
    • 1813, April 13
    • 1813, April 26
    • 1813, April 29
    • 1813 May 8
    • 1813 September 10
    • 1813, April 20
    • 1816, April 1
    • n.d.
    • n.d.
    Perkins, Col.
    • n.d.
    Pierce, Benjamin.
    • 1813, March 4
    Requisition, Military.
    • n.d.
    Smith, Hubbard.
    • 1813, June 14
    Therbrook, Lt. General.
    • 1809, August 13
    Writ of Debt.
    • 1753, September