|Sterling Price was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia on September 20, 1809. He briefly attended Hampden-Sidney College and studied law before moving with his parents to Missouri in 1831. In Missouri, he became a merchant and tobacco planter in Chariton County. Being successful in business and popular with the citizens, Price began a career in politics.|
|Sterling Price was elected to the State House of Representatives in 1840 and was
chosen Speaker. In 1842, he was re-elected to both positions. Being elected to the United
State Congress in 1844, he resigned his seat when the Mexican War broke out. President
Polk commissioned Price to raise and command a regiment. This Missouri Volunteer Regiment
was assigned to occupation duty in New Mexico. In 1847, Price suppressed an uprising
against American rule. The following year he conducted a campaign into Mexico that
resulted in the capture of Chihuahua and his promotion to the brevet rank of
brigadier-general. Price is shown above in his Mexican War uniform.
According to a newspaper article in October 1848, Price was hailed as a hero "beloved by his soldiers, respected by his fellow citizens, and with laurels encircled around his brow that will perpetually bloom in the affections of his countrymen." In 1852, Price campaigned for governor as an anti-Benton Democrat. He was unable to widely campaign for this office because he choose to be with his wife and eldest son when they were stricken with illness. Despite this, Price was still elected and served as Missouri's Governor from 1853 to 1857.
Price served as the state bank commissioner after his term as governor. During the secession crisis of 1860-61, Price was an Conditional Unionist. He presided over the Missouri State Convention which denounced the use of force to preserve the Union. After Federal acts of atrocities, Price joined the forces of the secessionist Governor Claiborne F. Jackson and was appointed commander of the Missouri State Guard with the rank of major-general.
On August 10, 1861, Price and the seven thousand members of the Missouri State Guard joined forces with Brigadier General Ben McCulloch of the Confederate Army and defeated Gen. Lyon at the Battle of Oak Hills or as the Yanks call it, Wilson's Creek. Without cooperation of the Confederates, Price then moved the Missouri State Guard northward and beseiged Lexington, Missouri which had been occupied by Federal troops. On September 20, Lexington along with 3,000 prisoners, 5 pieces of artillery, over 3,000 stands of arms, 750 horses and about $100,000 worth of commissary stores were surrendered to Price.
After Missouri's secession from the United States and her formal admittance to the Confederate States, Price resigned from the Missouri State Guard and entered the Confederate Army as a general. Price and his Missourians were sent east of the Mississippi River to reinforce General Albert Sidney Johnston. Arriving too late to participate in the Battle of Shiloh, they were part of Genereal P. G. T. Beauregard's defense of Corinth, Mississippi (April 6-7). Price continued to fight Union forces in Mississippi. On September 19, 1862, Price fought William S. Rosecrans at Iuka and then took part of Gen. Van Dorn's attempt to retake Corinth.
Price resented being east of the Mississippi and persistently requested transfer of his troops back to the Trans-Mississippi. President Jefferson Davis finally agreed that he could return but his troops - those brave Missourians who were unmatched in battle - were needed for the defense of Vicksburg. After returning to Arkansas, Price commanded a division in Lt. Gen. Holmes' assault on Helena, Arkansas on July 4, 1863. When Holmes' became ill and took a leave of absence, Price became the commander of all Confederate forces in Arkansas. In 1864, after fighting Gen. Steele in Arkansas, Price was authorized to return to Missouri in an effort to relieve the pressure on Atlanta, Georgia. With 12,000 mounted infantry, many unarmed, he entered Missouri in September 1864 with the hope of delivering Missouri from Yankee thraldom. Price's Raid was unsuccessful in the face of the damn Yankees who had occupied Missouri for three years and enjoyed the luxury of central headquarter's.
In 1865, Price went to Mexico where he was the leader of a colony of Confederate exiles at Carlota in the state of Vera Cruz. The colony was ruined by guerrilla attacks, crop failure, and illness. Price returned to St. Louis in 1867 and established a commission business. Sterling Price died in St. Louis on September 29, 1867.
Sources: Darrell L. Maples ed., "Major General Sterling Price," The Governor's Guard (Jefferson City, MO: M. M. Parsons Camp #718), September 1995; Jerena East Giffen. First Ladies of Missouri. Jefferson City, MO: Giffen Enterprises, 1996; Perry S. Rader. The Civil Government of the United States and the State of Missouri and the History of Missouri, Jefferson City, MO: The Hugh Stephens Printing Company, 1904.
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Last modified: May 06, 2019.