Thursday, December 31, 2009


Well, on this last day of 2009 I have decided to talk a bit about the last day of 1862. 147 years ago today the Battle of Stones River aka Murfreesboro began with a surprise attack early in the morning, once again Alex McCook would see his men flee from the field, and once again Bragg would start a battle with everything going his way. Today very little of the site is undeveloped and as I write this more and more is being paved over, ground where Manigault's men first got their taste of a real battle, an event C.I. Walker discussed is going under the bulldozer. Sadly, over the past ten years so much of this field has disappeared with very little attention, unlike what we get from the fields to the East.
Stones River has received very little attention for a battle its size and for one that had the impact that it did with its connection to the Emancipation Proclamation. It was a savage little engagement with the loss of several promising commanders on both sides, and its one of those that I want to address today, Brigadier General James Edward Rains.

Rains commanded a brigade in John McCowan's division. Rains was born April 10, 1833 in Nashville, the son of the Rev. John Rains. Rains grew up working in his father's saddlery and by the age of Seventeen had but five months of formal education, but he was finally able to get a private tutor and then move on to attend the Washington Academy and stayed one term before obtaining $400 to enter Yale. Rains entered the Law School as a sophomore as in 1851. Rains advanced rapidly through the class and graduated second in the Class of 1854. After graduation he returned home and found employment as the headmaster of the Millwood Academy in nearby Cheatham County, a position he would hold for two years before entering the Law profession. In 1857 he entered the realm of politics, and campaigned strongly against future governor, Isham Harris. After the election became the associate editor of the Daily Republican Banner, whose editor was future Confederate General, Felix Zollicoffer. In this position he remained active in local politics and a voice of opposition to the secession movement in Tennessee.

Life was going well for young Rains, he was elected Nashville city attorney in 1858, married Ida Yeatman the same year, and then in 1860 he saw the birth of his daughter, Laura, as well as be elected the District Attorney General for Davidson, Williamson, and Sumner counties. Then the Secession crisis struck. Although strongly opposing secession, Rains supported fellow Tennessean John Bell in the election of 1860, Rains soon found himself having to make a hard decision and in the spring of 1861 he enlisted as a private in the Hermitage Guards, which soon became Company D of the 11th TN. Infantry. Rains rose quickly through the ranks and by May 10th, 1861, less than a month before Tennessee would leave the Union on its third attempt, Rains was elected Colonel of the 11th Tennessee.

Rains and the 11th were sent to volatile East Tennessee and there he would receive command of a brigade, distinguishing himself in the defense of Cumberland Gap in June of 1862, he received a promotion to Brigadier General on November 4th, 1862. When the Department of East Tennessee was absorbed into the Army of Tennessee in November 20th of 1862, Rains found himself part of General John McCowan's Division in Hardee's Corps.

On December 31st, 1862 Rains would lead his brigade into its first pitched battle, and as the Rain's Confederates pressed the Union forces back, capturing artillery, but as they pressed the Union forces back, resistance stiffened and at this time Rains rode out to encourage his men, shouting, "Forward my brave boys, forward!" Rains then fell from his horse, shot through the heart, killed instantly.

After the Battle, Rains' father would bring James' 3 year old daughter with him to meet with Rosecrans and obtained permission to have the Generals body disinterred from its battlefield grave and moved to the Nashville City Cemetery, where his former boss, Felix Zollicoffer was buried after his death at Mill Springs. In 1888, Rains would be removed to Mount Olivet and buried near the Confederate Section, facing the Confederate Monument.

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