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Major General Sterling Price (Missouri State Guard / CSA)

Discussion in 'Colorized Period Photographs' started by ColorizedPast, Feb 26, 2017.

  1. ColorizedPast

    ColorizedPast Corporal

    Aug 27, 2016
    Hangzhou, China (Wisconsin, USA)
    170218 Sterling Price.jpg

    Major General Sterling Price (Missouri State Guard / CSA)

    Sterling Price was born near Farmville, in Price Edward County, Virginia on 20 September 1809. He attended Hampden-Sydney College in 1826 and 1827, studying law and working at the courthouse near his home. He was admitted to the Virginia bar and opened a law practice. In the fall of 1831, Price and his family moved to Fayette, Missouri. A year later, they moved to Keytesville, where he ran a hotel and mercantile.

    During the Mormon War of 1838, Price served as a member of a delegation sent from Chariton County, Missouri to investigate reported disturbances between Latter Day Saints and anti-Mormon mobs in the western part of the state. His report was favorable to the Mormons, stating they were not guilty of any offenses and that in his opinion the charges had been brought by their enemies. Following the Mormon capitulation in November 1838, Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs to Caldwell County ordered Price and a company of men to protect the LDS from further depredations.

    He was elected to the Missouri State House of Representatives from 1836 to 1838, and again from 1840 to 1844, and was chosen as its speaker. He was then elected as a Democrat to the 29th United States Congress, serving from 4 March 1845 to 12 August 1846, when he resigned from the House to participate in the Mexican-American War.

    Price raised the Second Regiment, Missouri Mounted Volunteer Cavalry and was appointed its colonel on 12 August 1846. He marched his regiment under Alexander Doniphan to Santa Fe, where he assumed command of the Territory of New Mexico after Gen. Stephen W. Kearny departed for California. Price served as military governor of New Mexico, and put down the Taos Revolt, an uprising of Native Americans and Mexicans in January 1847.

    President James K. Polk promoted Price to brigadier general of volunteers on 20 July 1847. He was named military governor of Chihuahua that same month, and he led 300 men from his Army of the West at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Rosales on 16 March 1848, defeating a Mexican force three times his size. This was the last battle of the war, taking place days after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo had been ratified by the United States Congress on 10 March. Although reprimanded by Secretary of War William L. Marcy and ordered to return with his army to New Mexico, Price was not punished. He was honorably discharged on 25 November 1848, and returned to Missouri as a hero.

    He was easily elected Governor of Missouri in 1852, serving from 1853 to 1857. During his tenure, Washington University in St. Louis was established, the state’s public school system was restructured, the Missouri State Teachers Association was created, the state’s railroad network was expanded, and a state geological survey was created. Although the state legislature passed an act to increase the governor’s salary, he refused to accept anything except the salary when he had been elected. Price became the state’s Bank Commissioner from 1857 to 1861. He also secured a rail line through his home county, now forming part of the Norfolk and Western Railway. During this time, he became a slave owner and raised tobacco on the Bowling Green prairie.

    Price was opposed to Missouri’s secession. He was elected presiding officer of the Missouri State Convention on 28 February 1861, which voted against the state leaving the Union. The situation changed drastically, however, when pro-Union Francis Preston Blair, Jr. and Capt. Nathaniel Lyon seized the state militia’s Camp Jackson at St. Louis. Outraged by this virtual declaration of war on the state, Price sided with the secessionists. Pro-Confederate Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson appointed him to command the newly reformed Missouri State Guard in May 1861, and he led his young recruits, who nicknamed him “Old Pap”, in a campaign to retain Missouri for the Confederacy.

    The most famous battle of the conflict was the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, which occurred on 10 August, when a Missouri State Guard force allied with Confederate troops under the command of Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch defeated Union troops in the Army of the West, under the command of General Lyon, who was killed. After this victory, Price’s troops launched an offensive into Northern Missouri, where they defeated Federal forces commanded by Colonel James Mulligan at the First Battle of Lexington. However, additional United States troops forced Price and Jackson’s men to retreat, leaving most of the state to the Union.

    Still operating as a Missouri militia general (rather than as a commissioned Confederate officer), Price was unable to agree with his Wilson's Creek colleague, Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch, as to how to proceed following the battle; this led to the splitting of what might otherwise have become a sizable Confederate force in the West. Price and McCullough became bitter rivals, leading to the ultimate appointment of Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn as overall commander of the Trans-Mississippi district. Van Dorn reunited Price's and McCullough's formations into a force he named the Army of the West, and set out to engage Unionist troops in Missouri under the command of Brig. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis. Now under Van Dorn's command, Price was commissioned in the Confederate States Army as a major general on 6 March 1862.

    Outnumbering Curtis’s forces, Van Dorn attacked the Northern army at Pea Ridge on 7-8 March. Although wounded in the fray, Price pushed Curtis’s force back at Elkhorn Tavern on 7 March, only to see the battle lost on the following day after a furious Federal counterattack. Price next crossed the Mississippi River reinforce Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard’s army at Corinth, Mississippi. Price seized the Union supply depot at nearby Iuka, but was driven back by Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans at the Battle of Iuka on 19 September 1862. A few weeks later, on 3-4 October, Price (under Van Dorn’s command) was defeated at the Second Battle of Corinth.

    Van Dorn was replaced by Maj. Gen. John C. Pemberton, and Price, who had become thoroughly disgusted with Van Dorn and was eager to return to Missouri, obtained a leave to visit Richmond, the Confederate capital. He obtained an audience with Confederate President Jefferson Davis to discuss his grievances, only to find his own loyalty to the South sternly questioned. Price only barely managed to secure permission to return to Missouri – minus his troops. Unimpressed with the Missourian, Davis pronounced him “the vainest man I ever met.”

    During the summer of 1863, he fought the Union in Arkansas but was unable to dislodge them from the state. In early 1864, Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith ordered Price to send all his infantry to Shreveport. Confederates in the Indian Territory were to join Price. John B. Magruder in Texas was instructed to send infantry toward Marshall, Texas. St. John R. Liddell was to proceed from the Ouachita River west towards Natchitoches. With a force of 5,000, Price reached Shreveport on 24 March. However, Kirby Smith detained the division and divided it into two smaller ones. He hesitated to send men south to fight Union Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks which drew the opposition of Richard Taylor.

    Price managed to convince his superiors to permit him to invade Missouri in the fall of 1864. Kirby Smith agreed but he was force to detach the infantry brigades originally detailed to Price’s force and send them elsewhere, thus changing Price’s proposed campaign from a full-scale invasion of Missouri to a large cavalry raid. Price amassed 12,000 horsemen and fourteen pieces of artillery for his army.

    He successfully captured the Union-held Fort Davidson at Pilot Knob but needlessly slaughtered many of his men in the process for a gain that turned out to have no real value. He swung west, away from St. Louis and toward Kansas City and nearby Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Forced to bypass his secondary target at heavily fortified Jefferson City, Price cut a swath of destruction across his home state, even as his army steadily dwindled due to battlefield losses, disease, and desertion.

    Although he defeated inferior Federal forces at Glasgow, Lexington, the Little Blue River, and Independence, Price was ultimately boxed in by two Northern armies at Westport, located in today’s Kansas City, and forced to fight against overwhelming odds. This unequal contest, known afterward as “The Gettysburg of the West”, did not go his way, and he was forced to retreat into hostile Kansas. A new series of defeats followed, as Price’s battered and broken army was pushed steadily southward towards Arkansas, and then further south into Texas, then to Carlota, Cordoba, Mexico, where he and several of his cronies attempted to start a colony, which failed miserably. Price’s Raid would prove to be his last significant military operation and the last significant Confederate campaign west of the Mississippi.

    Price returned to Missouri after the Mexican colony failed. While in Mexico, Price started having intestinal problems. By August 1866, he contracted typhoid fever. Impoverished and in poor health, Price died of cholera in St. Louis on 29 September 1867.

    170218 Sterling Price comparison.jpg

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