A Band of 8 Brothers: The Sons of Alexander Slay, Sr.


I have received numerous comments concerning my article about the eight sons of Jane Boykin that served in the Civil War. Without a doubt the most interesting came from Bradley Jeffreys, who informed me that his family also included eight brothers who fought for the Confederacy. Alexander Slay and his wife Elizabeth of Copiah County had 11 children, 8 of whom were soldiers in the Civil War. Bradley sent me the following information about his Slay relatives, which I am happy to post:

Elijah Slay (1838-1864)

Captain, Company C, 16th Mississippi Infantry

June 10/1864

What a strange scene meets the eye on every side.  Forts on the plains and in the woods.  Constant roar of Artillery and

Slay Family Marker in County Line Cemetery, Copiah County, Mississippi. Included on the stone are the names of Elijah and Cincinatus Slay. Photo courtesy of Bradley Jeffreys.

Slay Family Marker in County Line Cemetery, Copiah County, Mississippi. Included on the stone are the names of Elijah and Cincinatus Slay. Photo courtesy of Bradley Jeffreys.

bursting of shells.  Even as I write I saw one poor fellow shot down as he left his shelter.  May God forgive the men who brought about this war.  I fear that I shall yet hate them.” Lt. E.H. Rhodes witnessed the death of Elijah Slay.

Rhodes, Robert Hunt (1985). All for the Union: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.  New York: Orion Books.  page 161

In the family bible record of his father is recorded that Elijah “departed this life June 10th 1864 killed by a Yankee sharp shooter at Cold Arbor near Richmond, Va.”

His close friend was by his side, A.A. Lomax, and he reported the news to the family back in Copiah Co that Elijah was killed while adjusting his shade.

June 10-12, 1864. Cold Harbor.

For a week now there has been little activity – although it is dangerous to raise one’s head above the embankments.”  “In our regiment both Capt. Slay (C) and Lieut. Lewis (K) have been killed.  Captain Slay was sitting in the trenches preparing an awning to protect himself from the sun when he was struck and killed immediately by a minnie ball from a sharpshooter.  Chaplain Lomax, who conducted his funeral, has written his wife – who just recently left Richmond to return to Crystal Springs to bear their second child.”

Dobbins, Austin C. (1988).  Grandfather’s Journal.  Dayton, Ohio: Morningside.  page 199

Corydon Slay

Company C, 16th Mississippi Infantry

corporal

musician

was a member of a brass band in Hazlehurst after the war

Born 1841, Died at Beauvoir (Confederate Soldiers’ Home) in 1918

Post Civil War Photo of Corydon Slay (Third from Left) posed with his band. Photo Courtesy of Bradley Jeffreys.

Post Civil War Photo of Corydon Slay (Third from Left) posed with his band. Photo Courtesy of Bradley Jeffreys.

Norvell Slay

1836-1907

private

musician

16th Mississippi Infantry

Norvell (Norval) Slay was a founder of Harmony Baptist Church in 1887.

Nathan W. Slay

1830-1899

sergeant

second sergeant 

captain

Nathan W. Slay, also a brother of Corydon and Elijah Slay, served in the “Crystal Springs Southern Rights Rifles” as did his brothers.  His first enlistment ended by discharge due to a wound.  He was shot through the face and lost one eye at the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee on April 6, 1862.  His second enlistment was in Powers’ Cavalry which ended by virtue of the general surrender at Gainesville, Alabama.  Nathan W. Slay first enlisted on August 24, 1861 at age 31.  He was elected Sergeant, Second Sergeant, and then Captain of his Company.  He was five feet, eight inches tall, had blue eyes, auburn hair and a fair complexion.”

Jeffreys, J. Bradley (1985).  A Genealogy of the Slay Family in America.  page 269

Alexander Slay, Jr.

1831-1866

Co. A, 4th Mississippi Cavalry (Terrell’s Dragoons)

This unit captured and sank the Union steamer Lone Star on the Mississippi River in November 1862.

Leonidas Slay

1845-1868

private

Co A, Powers Regiment Mississippi Cavalry

Survived the war but three years later, “shot by his own pistol by accident”

Cincinatus Slay

1846 – Dec 31, 1864

Co F, 6th Mississippi Infantry (“Crystal Springs Guards”)

corporal

Family bible records states “killed by the cars near Iuka”

As it was passed down through the family, Cincinatus and another man had survived the recent Battle of Nashville (December 15-16, 1864).  (Would have been part of Loring’s Division).  After their defeat the Rebels walked from Nashville to near Tupelo.  Here was an opportunity to ride a train rather than walk.  The wounded and sick were laid on flat cars.  Cincinatus Slay and another man, being well, put a board between two flat cars since there was no other place for them.  At some time after the train cars began rolling, the board collapsed and he was crushed by the train.

Alonzo D. Slay

May 28, 1848 – 1921

private

Uncle Lonzo was too young to be a soldier but, wanting to join all 7 of his older brothers, ran off from home and became a member of Company A, Powers’ Regiment Mississippi Cavalry, in which unit his oldest brother Nathan also served.  Later Alonzo was a founder of Harmony Baptist Church in 1887.

The family was very musically gifted, and the family tradition is the Slay boys were always leading the men in song to keep up their spirits.  Their musical talents continued after they returned from war.  Corydon was in a brass band in Hazlehurst; Alex Jr. often lead the choir at Damascus Baptist Church, where he’s buried.

Photo of the Alexander Slay, Sr., homestead where the eight Slay brothers were raised. The home is located on Terry - Gatesville Road in the Northeastern corner of Copiah County, and it is still standing. Photo Courtesy of Bradley Jeffreys.

Photo of the Alexander Slay, Sr., homestead where the eight Slay brothers were raised. The home is located on Terry – Gatesville Road in the Northeastern corner of Copiah County, and it is still standing. Photo Courtesy of Bradley Jeffreys.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “A Band of 8 Brothers: The Sons of Alexander Slay, Sr.

  1. Bill Garner

    Great story. Thank you, Bill

  2. Thank you for posting. I descend from Hiram Oliver Slay; he and his brothers all fought for the confederacy. I wish we had more information. There were a total of 5 brothers who all fought that descendent from Noah Slay and Martha Slay.

    Charleen Slay Kennedy

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