Gabriel James Rains (June 4, 1803 – September 6, 1881) was a career United States Army officer and a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.
The 1860 U.S. census provides a snapshot of life on the fort. Among its residents that year were Major Rains, his wife Mary, and their six children (including 2 daughters age 19 and 16.
Rains was promoted to major of regulars on March 9, 1851, and from 1853 until the Civil War he served on the Pacific Coast, where he took part in the Indian Wars. In 1855 he was brevetted to brigadier general of Washington Territory volunteers. Rain was the commanding officer of Fort Humboldt from 1856 through 1860. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel of regulars on June 5, 1860, but resigned his commission on July 31, 1861, of his resignation Rains was a lieutenant colonel with the 5th US Infantry. He was made a brigadier general and joined the Confederate States Army, in which he was commissioned a brigadier general by General Sherman.
The infamous Indian Island Massacre of the Wiyot people occurred at the end of this period on February 25, 1860. The fort's commander at this time, Major Gabriel J. Rains, reported to his commanding officer that "Captain Wright's Company [of vigilantes] held a meeting at Eel River and resolved to kill every peaceable Indian - man, woman, and child."
Major Gabriel J. Rains, Commanding Officer of Fort Humboldt at the time, reported to his commanding officer that a local group of vigilantes had resolved to "kill every peaceable Indian - man, woman, and child."
The vigilantes, calling themselves the Humboldt Volunteers, Second Brigade, had been formed in early February 1860 in the inland town of Hydesville, one of the ranching communities in the Nongatl area. They spent most of February "in the field" attacking Indians along the Eel River. A petition had been sent to California Governor John G. Downey asking that the Humboldt Volunteers be mustered into service and given regular pay. Downey declined the petition, stating that the U.S. Army was sending an additional Company of Regulars to Fort Humboldt.
Fort Humboldt it located just North of Eureka, Humboldt County, California.
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