Ashland

Historical Marker #1 in Lexington notes the location of Ashland, the home and estate of Kentucky statesman Henry Clay.

Clay and his wife, Lucretia, were blessed with eleven children. One of these, Henry Clay, Jr., was killed in the Mexican-American War.

Henry Clay was, perhaps, most fond of his namesake. Henry Clay, Jr. was the statesman's third son. Born in 1811, he graduated from Transylvania University, where his father served on the board of trustees. He received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and, in 1831, graduated second in his class. Clay briefly served in the U.S. Army but soon resigned. He returned to Kentucky, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1833. Two years later, Henry, Jr. was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives and served a single two-year term.

In 1832, Henry Clay, Jr. married Julia Prather. The couple had five children: Henry III, Matilda, Ann, Martha, and Thomas Julian.

Although his politician father, a member of the Whig Party, opposed the annexation of Texas to the United States and the subsequent war it brought with Mexico, Henry the younger enlisted in 1846 and was elected lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Kentucky Volunteers. As part of Gen. Zachary Taylor’s invading force, Clay’s initial army experience was less than thrilling.

Henry Jr. lost much of his early war enthusiasm when he was injured after a fall from his horse. Some claimed he was drunk. He was also disillusioned by what he believed were overbearing superior officers. But, when combat came at the Battle of Buena Vista, on February 23, 1847, Clay rose to the occasion.

During the dramatic battle, Clay was wounded in the left thigh and requested his men to fall back without him and reorganize. Before his men departed, Clay entrusted one with a set of pistols that his father had given him and requested that they be returned to Ashland. As the wounded Clay watched his men retreat, Mexican Lancers pierced his body multiple times. His body was recovered by two slaves that served the 2nd Kentucky. His remains were eventually brought back to Kentucky and buried with honors in the Frankfort Cemetery.

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