Civil War Wiki
James Spencer Rains
Personal Information
Born: October 2, 1817
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: May 19, 1880
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: Missouri State Guard/Confederate States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Brigadier General MSG
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Battles: American Civil War
- Battle of Carthage
- Dug Springs
- Battle of Wilson's Creek
- Battle of Lexington I
- Battle of Pea Ridge
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

James Spencer Rains (October 2, 1817 – May 19, 1880) was a brigadier general of the Missouri State Guard during the American Civil War.

Early life and career[]

James Spencer Rains was born in Tennessee to Asahel and Malvina (Duncan) Rains of Warren County. By 1840 Rains had moved to the vicinity of Sarcoxie, Missouri. He served as prewar general of the miltia, as Newton County, Missouri judge from 1840–42, was elected to the state house by Newton County in 1844, and in the state senate from 1854 to 1861. Between 1845 and 1852 Rains served as an agent for Indian affairs in various locations, and ventured to California as a "forty-niner" where he served as a general in the California state militia. In 1860 Rains was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Congress for the Southwest Missouri District.

Civil War[]

On May 18, 1861, Governor Claiborne Jackson of Missouri appointed Rains brigadier general of the 8th Division of the Missouri State Guard. While he was an excellent recruiter, the new brigadier was completely unfit for military command. His failure to instill organization and discipline led to derisive nicknames such as "Rains' Blackberry Cavalry" and routs referred to as "Rains' Scares."

Rains led his command ineptly at the Battle of Carthage. (It is a matter of historical contention as to whether he may have been in command of the whole MSG on the field, but if he was he seems to have provided no direction beyond his own 8th Division.) Here the cavalry failed to cut off the retreat of a small Union force over open prairie.

His standing did not improve when his cavalry panicked and routed in a skirmish south of Springfield at Dug Springs. At Wilson's Creek his force was surprised and driven in by the initial attack of Lyon's advancing infantry. He served in the major battles of the Missouri State Guard in 1861 and 1862. He was wounded at the Battle of Pea Ridge and ran afoul of the commander, Earl Van Dorn, during the retreat.

Rains did not accompany the Missouri forces across the river into Mississippi in April 1862. He remained behind with other Missouri State Guard forces who did not wish to leave the Trans-Mississippi. Major General Thomas Hindman placed Rains in command of the mixed guard and Confederate forces in Northwest Arkansas. Hindman relieved Rains of command in October 1862 for "incompetence and insobriety."

Rains moved to Texas to recover his health. In 1864 he returned to Missouri at the command of Confederate Governor Thomas C. Reynolds to recruit during Price's Missouri Raid. With the end of the raid, Rains withdrew.

Post-war Career and Death[]

After the war Rains settled in Wood County, Texas and later Kaufman County, Texas where he became a farmer, railroad promoter, lawyer, and political organizer/candidate. He failed in his run for lieutenant governor in 1878. He died on May 19, 1880 at his home and is buried at Lee Cemetery in Seagoville, Dallas County.


  • Allardice, Bruce S.;More Generals in Gray. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1995.
  • Hinze, David; Farnham, Karen, The Battle of Carthage, Border War in Southwest Missouri, July 5, 1861. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-58980-223-3.