Sterling Price was born in Virginia in 1809. He studied law at Hampden-Sydney and moved with his family to Missouri in 1831.
Price prospered as a tobacco planter and served in the legislature from 1836-1838 and for four more years beginning in 1840 as speaker of the general assembly. In 1844 he was elected to the US Congress, served for 2 years and resigned to become colonel of the Second Regiment, Missouri Mounted Volunteer Cavalry in the war with Mexico. He advanced to Brigadier General and was appointed military governor of Chihuahua. Returning to Missouri he was elected governor in 1852.
A conditional Unionist, he was elected presiding officer of the Missouri State Convention which voted against secession. “Old Pap” threw his lot with the South after Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s call for troops.
He was given command of the Missouri State Guard and lead them, first in retreat, then to victory at Wilson’s Creek and a successful campaign resulting in the capture of a 3300-man federal force at Lexington. Price’s force was then mostly incorporated into the Confederate army and saw action east of the Mississippi. From 1862 on, as a Confederate Major General, he suffered defeats as both a subordinate and a commander at Iuka and Corinth in Mississippi and Helena Arkansas.
His raid across Missouri in 1864 left him in retreat in Texas and Arkansas. He expatriated himself for a brief time in Mexico but returned to Missouri where he died in St. Louis in 1867 from chronic dysentery contracted during the Mexican War.