Tuesday, June 14, 2011

James Edward Rains: Knightly Soul

James Edward Rains

       James Edward Rains was born on April 10, 1833 in Nashville, Tennessee. His father was a Methodist minister. He spent his youth making saddle tack in his fathers saddle shop. He attended college at Yale and graduated in 1854. He then studied law and became the associate editor of the Daily Republican Banner under future Confederate Brigadier General Feliz Kirk Zollicoffer. 
       Rains became an attorney in Nashville in 1858. He soon married Ida Yeatman and they had a daughter in 1859. Though opposed to secession, Rains joined a company in Nashville when the war began and was quickly elected lieutenant. It wasn't long before he was made a Captain and then colonel of the 11th Tennessee Infantry Regiment. 
       The ladies of Nashville presented the regiment with a nice flag before they departed. Colonel Rains made a short speech in which he promised they would bring the flag back or not come back at all. Rains and his regiment would see most of their action in east Tennessee serving around Cumberland Gap. He would soon be promoted to Brigadier General by President Jefferson Davis.
       They were attached to Bragg's army following the Kentucky invasion in 1862. He would fight on the extreme left flank on the opening day of the Battle of Murfreesboro. Their job was to sweep north and then turn right toward the pike and cut off Rosecrans' supply line to Nashville. 

Rains in Confederate Uniform

       One soldier noted how the sounds of cannon and rifle fire seemed to inspire General Rains as ballroom music to a dance lover. He led his brigade forward and made the right wheel. They ran into stiff resistance in a cedar thicket. Colonel Vance latter reported that this was the worst fire they would encounter all day. The brigade suffered from intense artillery and infantry fire. 
       General Rains was out front leading his men forward. He shouted, Forward, my brave men, forward!" At that moment a bullet struck him in the chest, pierced his heart and he fell dead. One of his men stated that Rains was pierced by a bullet that sent that knightly soul back to the God who gave it. 
       The brigade soon ran out of ammunition and was forced to fall back. The pike was never taken. One soldier wrote that they watched a long black casket being carried back to Murfreesboro which contained General Rains remains. He talked about what a gloom it cast on the army. Most men believed that James Edward Rains was worth a thousand men in battle. 
       Soon after the battle, a minister approached Rosecrans about carrying Rains body back through Federal lines to be buried in his home town at Nashville. Rosecrans allowed the body to be carried back, but refused the fallen officer to be buried with military honors. 

Grave of James Edward Rains

       Today, General James Edward Rains rests in Nashville's Mount Olivet Cemetery. He was twenty-nine years old. His daughter was only three at the time of his death. He is still remembered as a knightly soul. Prior to the war, there was nothing in Rains life to make one believe he would make such a great military leader. 

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