In Print--Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of the Civil War in Missouri, by William Garrett Piston and Thomas P. Sweeney

14, November 2009
cover of book General Sterling Price and the ConfederacyMHM

Missouri’s preeminent leader of the Southern cause during the Civil War, Sterling Price was a Virginia native who came to Missouri in 1831 and prospered as a tobacco farmer, businessman, and Democratic politician. He served several terms in the Missouri House of Representatives and was chosen its speaker. He was elected to the U.S. Congress but resigned after only five months in order to participate in the Mexican War, where he led the Second Regiment of Missouri Volunteer Cavalry and later served as a brigadier general. His fame made him a popular choice for Missouri governor, a position he held from 1853 to 1857.

Carte de Visite of General Sterling PriceGeneral Sterling Price

Although a slaveholder, Price was a moderate politically and he presided over a March 1861 convention that rejected secession for Missouri. He soon concluded, however, that the Lincoln administration’s moves to coerce the seceded states left Missourians no option but to side with the Confederacy. He commanded the field forces of the pro-secessionist Missouri State Guard and later won a commission in the Confederate army. Fearless, determined, and highly charismatic, he inspired unrivaled devotion from his soldiers. A Lexington back mark on this carte de visite suggests that the image was made in 1861.

Excerpted from Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of the Civil War in Missouri, by William Garrett Piston and Thomas P. Sweeney, published Fall 2009 by the University of Arkansas Press.