James Edward Rains
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Personal Information
Born: April 10, 1833(1833-04-10)
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Died: December, 1862 (aged 28–29)
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Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Confederate States of America
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Branch: Confederate States Army
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Rank: Brigadier General
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Battles: American Civil War
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James Edward Rains (April 10, 1833 – December 31, 1862) was a lawyer and general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He was killed at the Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro).

Early life[edit | edit source]

Rains was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of Methodist minister Rev. John and Lucinda Cartwright Rains. He spent his youth making tack in his father's small saddlery. A benefactor lent him $400 to attend Yale, where he graduated second in the Class of 1854. He then studied law before serving as headmaster at the Millwood Institute in newly formed Cheatham County. He was associate editor of the Daily Republican Banner, serving under a future fellow Confederate general, Felix Zollicoffer. Rains was an active member of the Whig Party, and was initially opposed to secession. He was elected the Nashville city attorney in 1858. He married Ida Yeatman later that year, and their only child, a daughter named Laura, was born in 1859. Rains was attorney general for his judicial district in 1860.

Civil War[edit | edit source]

When the Civil War began, despite his personal objections to the concept of secession, Rains enlisted in April 1861 in the Confederate army as a private in the "Hermitage Guards", a local company. He was quickly elected first lieutenant, captain and finally appointed colonel of the 11th Tennessee Infantry, succeeding George E. Maney. He was commissioned May 10, 1861. The greater part of his military service was in eastern Tennessee. During the winter of 1861–62, he commanded the garrison at the Cumberland Gap and successfully repulsed numerous attempts by Union forces to seize the critical gap. It did not fall until June 1862 when Federals finally outflanked his position. His defense of the gap proved vital, as east Tennessee would have been completely lost to the Confederates much earlier in 1862. But the forces that Maj. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith had gathered about Knoxville, in addition to those in the neighborhood of Cumberland Gap, made the Union occupation of that post almost a barren victory. In August, Smith advanced into Kentucky, leaving Maj. Gen. Carter L. Stevenson with a strong division to operate against the Union general Morgan, who was holding the gap with about 9,000 men. Col. Rains commanded a brigade in Stevenson's division. Kirby Smith's success in the Kentucky Campaign eventually forced the Union forces to abandon Cumberland Gap and retreat through eastern Kentucky to the Ohio River.

Rains was rewarded for his contribution at Cumberland Gap by being given a commission to brigadier general on November 4, 1862. When Gen. Braxton Bragg was concentrating his army at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, that same month, Rains's brigade of troops from North Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee traveled to Murfreesboro and was assigned to the division of Maj. Gen. John P. McCown in Hardee's Corps. At the Battle of Stones River in December, Rains was shot through the heart and killed instantly while leading his brigade forward in an attack against Union artillery. His last words were "Forward my brave boys, forward!" He was initially buried on the battlefield, but Rains's father, and 3 year old daughter, met with Union Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans and formally requested General Rains's body. It was transferred through Federal lines and reburied in the Nashville City Cemetery. In 1888, Rains was reinterred in the Confederate section of Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.

Honors[edit | edit source]

After the war, surviving members of the 11th Tennessee from Dickson County named their camp of the veterans group, the Association of Confederate Soldiers Tennessee Division, in honor of James E. Rains.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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