Rains, Gabriel James was born on June 4, 1803 in Craven County, North Carolina, United States. Son of Gabriel M. and Hester (Ambrose) Rains.
Graduated from the United States Military Academy, 1827.
Commissioned captain United States Army, 1839. Took part in Seminole War, 1839-1842. Brevetted major, 1842.
Served in Mexican War. Took part in 2d Seminole War, 1849-1850. Promoted lieutenant colonel, 1860.
Commissioned brigadier general Confederate States Army, 1861. In command at Yorktown, mined nearby waters, 1861-1862. Withdrew from Yorktown, 1862, left shells with percussion fuses in the road.
Employed early land mines at Battle of Williamsburg. In charge of bureau of Conscription, Richmond, Virginia, 1863. Given series of defense missions, 1863, let to assignment as superintendent Torpedo Bureau, Confederacy, 1864-1865.
Arranged demolitions, mines and torpedo protection for Richmond, Mobile, Charleston, the James River. Two of his operations blew up two United States barges and an ammunition warehouse, City Point, Virginia, 1864. Clerk United States Quartermaster Department, Charleston, South Carolina., 1877-1880.