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Federal (USV)


Matthew Stanley Quay

(1833 - 1904)

Home State: Pennsylvania

Education: Jefferson (now Washington and Jefferson) College, Class of 1850

Command Billet: Commanding Regiment

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 134th Pennsylvania Infantry

Before Antietam

After college he taught school, studied the law, and was admitted to the bar in 1854. By then a 28 year old lawyer in Beaver, in far-western Pennsylvania, he enrolled in Harrisburg as First Lieutenant of Company F, 10th Pennsylvania Reserves on 29 June 1861. He was discharged to accept the commission as Assistant Commissary General of Pennsylvania on 5 July 1861. He was commissioned Colonel of the new 134th Pennsylvania Infantry on 23 August 1862.

On the Campaign

He commanded the regiment in Maryland. He and his Division arrived at the battlefield of Antietam early on 18 September after an all-night march from their post at Frederick, MD.

The rest of the War

He resigned his commission to date from 7 December 1862 due to being ill with typhoid fever. His resignation was accepted, but he remained with the army as an aide to General Erastus Tyler, and charged the heights in action at Frederickburg, VA on 13 December. He was later awarded the Medal of Honor for that action.

Governor Curtin afterward appointed him his private secretary.

After the War

In 1864 he was elected to the Pennsylvania House (term of 1865-67), was owner and editor of the Beaver Radical to 1872, then Secretary of the Commonwealth to 1882. He was State Treasurer 1885-87 then was elected to the US Senate.

In 1888 he was campaign manager for successful Republican presidential candidate Benjamin Harrison and was also the Chairman of the Republican National Committee (1888-92). He served 2 terms in the Senate, to 1899, and was defeated for reelection, but, the seat remaining vacant, he was appointed to it by the Governor. The Senate would not seat him, so he ran again in 1901 for the still-vacant seat and won it. He served in the US Senate to his death in May 1904.

References & notes

His service from Bates.1 Further details from Deeds of Valor 2 and his Congressional biography. Personal details from family genealogists.

He married Agnes Barclay (1831-1911) in October 1855 and they had 10 children, 5 of whom survived to adulthood.

It may be unfair to observe that he was awarded his Medal of Honor in 1888 when he was at the height of his political power and influence.

More on the Web

See an excellent online exhibit on Quay's political career and power from Explore Pennsylvania History.


09/30/1833; DIllsburg, NY


05/28/1904; Beaver, PA; burial in Beaver Cemetery and Mausoleum, Beaver, PA


1   Bates, Samuel Penniman, History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg: State of Pennsylvania, 1868-1871  [AotW citation 25115]

2   Beyer, Walter F., and Oscar F. Keydel, compilers, Deeds of Valor: How America's Heroes Won the Medal of Honor , Detroit: The Perrien-Keydel Company, 1901, Vol. 1, pg. 116  [AotW citation 25116]