Henry Murray (born c. 1845) fought for the United States during the Civil War with the Navy aboard the USS Laurel and the USS Louisville. Murray was profiled by the University of Virginia's John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History in 2017, as part of their "Black Virginians in Blue" digital project.
Murray was born around 1845 in Charlottesville, and worked as a laborer before the war. It's unclear if he was enslaved before he enlisted. On June 1, 1864, he enlisted in the Union navy for three years at Skipwith’s Landing in Issaquena County, Mississippi. Officials listed his race as "negro" and gave him the rating of landsman. He first served aboard the USS Laurel, a screw steamer that supported both army and navy operations and attempted to cut western Confederate supply lines to the Eastern Theater. The ship never engaged in naval combat, instead in patrol and reconnaissance duty on the Mississippi River.
Sometime before December 31, Murray transferred to the USS Louisville, where he served alongside two fellow Albemarle-born Black sailors, John Edwards and David Linton. The War Department transferred the Louisville, an ironclad centerwheel gunboat, to the navy on October 1, 1862. By the time Murray joined her crew, she had returned to patrol and army support duty, and she remained there until being decommission on July 21, 1865. Murray's last muster roll is dated July 18, 1865, which is probably about the time he left the navy.
Murray never filed a pension, and nothing is known by historians about his life after wartime.
- Web. Henry Murray (USS Laurel & Louisville), Website, John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History: Black Virginians in Blue, April 12, 2021, retrieved August 4, 2021.
- Web. “Brave Boys of the Fifth”: The Service of Two Black, Albemarle-Born Soldiers of the Famous 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment, Jane Diamond, Website, John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History: Black Virginians in Blue, July 4, 2017, retrieved July 28, 2021.