Gabriel James Rains

Brigadier General

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Reference: Alabama Department of Archives & History. Custodian of the original pictures. Confederate Officers photo album.

Gabriel James Rains was born in Craven County, North Carolina, June 4, 1803. He received a common school education, and was graduated from West Point in the class of 1827. From then until his resignation, on July 31, 1861, he had a most distinguished career in the United States Army. He was brevetted major for gallantry against the Seminoles, and achieved the regular rank of lieutenant colonel of the 5th Infantry on June 5, 1860. Meantime he had done considerable experimenting with explosives. On September 23, 1861 Rains was appointed as a brigadier in the Provisional Confederate Army, and assigned to the command of a brigade under D. H. Hill in the Department of the Peninsula. Falling back from Yorktown before McClellan's advance in the spring of 1862, he originated the anti-personnel mine, which he sowed in the roads in large quantities, causing not a few Union casualties. This hitherto unknown mode of warfare excited much comment and criticism from Federals and Confederates alike. General Longstreet forbade its further employment as "not proper." By the end of the war, however, even its most violent opponents were converted to its use. Rains' last field service was at Seven Pines, where he was severely castigated by Hill. Assigned as first superintendent of the volunteer and conscript bureau in December 1862, he was relieved in May of the following year. He was occupied during the balance of the war arranging mine and torpedo defenses for such threatened points as Richmond, Charleston, and Mobile. He then resided in Atlanta for a time, and from 1877 to 1880, was a clerk in the quartermaster department at Charleston. He died in Aiken, South Carolina, August 6, 1881, and is buried in St. Thaddeus Cemetery.

Ref: Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Printed by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London.