A Civil War Biography

Henry Gray

Gray was born 19 January 1816 in Laurens District, South Carolina. After graduating from South Carolina College, now the University of South Carolina, in 1834, he studied the law and was admitted to the bar in 1838. He moved to Winston County, Mississippi and took up the practice of law. He served as the district attorney for Winston County from 1839 until 1845. In 1846 he was elected to the state legislature in which he served one term. In 1848 he ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a member of the Whig party. In December 1850 he moved to Bienville Parish, Louisiana settling on a large parcel of land in Brushy Valley. In 1856 he was an elector for James Buchanan's Democratic ticket. In 1860 Gray was elected to the Louisiana state legislature and then lost a close race, by one vote, to represent Louisiana in the US Senate to his close friend Judah P. Benjamin.

After Mississippi seceded and the war erupted Gray enlisted as a private in a Mississippi regiment. After briefly serving with this unit he was asked by his friend, Jefferson Davis, to raise a regiment. Gray returned to Louisiana and helped organize what became the 28th Louisiana Infantry regiment. The 28th was mustered into Confederate service on 3 May 1862 with Gray elected colonel. The 28th saw its first action at Baton Rouge on 5 August 1862 where Confederate forces were unable to retake the Union occupied city. Gray would lead the 28th at Franklin, Louisiana on 14 April 1863 where the Confederates were defeated at Nerson's Woods, also known as Irish Bend, and forced to retreat towards Alexandria, Louisiana. He commanded the regiment during October 1863 as it countered the Nathaniel P. Bank's overland Texas expedition in the Bayou country of :Louisiana. During the spring 1864 Red River expedition Gray succeeded to brigade command after Jean Jacques Mouton was killed on 8 April 1864 at Mansfield, the decisive battle of the Red River campaign. Gray commanded the brigade the following day at Pleasant Hill. He was officially named to replace Mouton on 15 April 1864 but would not receive the rank of brigadier general until 17 March 1865. In the mean time, without declaring himself a candidate, Gray was elected to represent Northwest Louisiana in the Confederate Congress.

Following the war Gray was elected to the Louisiana state legislature in 1865 and served one term before retiring from public life. He remained in virtual seclusion until his death on 11 December 1892 in Coushatta, Louisiana.

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