Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 3, 1863 (Wednesday): Rains Doesn't Go to Vicksburg

General Gabriel Rains

RICHMOND, VA., June 3, 1863.
Brigadier General G. J. RAINS, Richmond, Va.:
    GENERAL: Yours of the 31st ultimo, but only left at my office this morning, has been read with much surprise and dispappointment. Your apprehension that you could not reach Mississippi soon enough to make your submarine and subterra shells effective against tthe enemy at Vicksburg I had expected would have secured a lapse of time nearly, if not quite, sufficient to have enabled you to reach the field of operation. I learn that you have not started. I heard your msgivings, growing out of the belief that General Johnston would not favor the use of your inventions, and answered, at the time, the various points presented by you. Your letter received this morning renews the expression of your preference for a different field of operations, and I have no wish further to urge the importance of the duty to which you are assigned and the necessity for great promptness in its execution. The successful employment of your submarine shells in the Yazoo River offered to my mind the best hope of preventing the enemy from bringing supplies, especially heavy guns, to the position he is said to have taken at Snyder's Bluff. This purpose, I fear, you may not now be in time to execute. If you are not prepared to go at once I prefer, even at this late period, to be informed of the act, and to select another person for the duty. Your letter has a caption, to it, "Reasons for printing." I stated to you that the objection to printing your memoir upon the use of the submarine and subterra shells was that no printed paper could be kept secret. Your invention would be deprived of a great part of its value if its peculiarities were known to the enemy. The manuscript copy which you left with me is subject to your order. I supposed it was a duplicate, and might be used by me for the information of commanding generals in the field by making extracts of those portions which are applicable to operations against the enemy.
     Respectfully, your very obedient servant,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 487.

Rains is a controversial figure.  While in command at Yorktown in the winter of 1861-62 he mined the surrounding waters.  In covering the retreat up the Peninsula he was the first to use land minds and booby traps, an innovation which caused him to be condemned by some on both sides.  One of those, apparently was Johnston, which is why Rains did not move rapidly to Vicksburg.

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