A Civil War Biography
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.
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
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.
Return to Biography Index