The Unknown Confederate Soldier

Gray Maine's Stranger

During the U.S. Civil War, Lt. Charles H. Colley of Gray was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Mountain. His body was sent home for burial. However, when the casket arrived home, it contained the body of an unknown soldier in a gray Confederate uniform. Unable to correct the mistake, and believing that the young man's family would want him to have a proper burial, the soldier was laid to rest in the town cemetery, and a group of local townswomen arranged to have a stone placed on his grave. Shortly after, the body of Lt. Colley arrived in Gray and now lies in the Colley family lot, not far from the Stranger's grave.

The people of Gray could have sent the Stranger away. They had reason to. The small town of Gray sent proportionally more sons to the Civil War than any other town in Maine. More than 178 Union soldiers are buried the Gray Village Cemetery. But touchingly, there is also one Confederate, the Unknown Soldier, brought into the heart of the town in the midst of that terrible war. The people of Gray always remember the grave of the Stranger on Memorial Day with a Confederate flag.

(Reprinted from "The Stranger in a Gray, Maine Cemetery" by Dick Eastman of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter.)