Known affectionately to his troops as “Old Pap,” General Sterling Price was a vital and unique personality, and one of the most important and controversial figures of the Civil War. Indeed, the story of General Price—as this account shows—is the story, in large part, of the Confederacy’s struggle in the West.
A former Mexican War general and governor of Missouri, Price fought in nearly every battle in the Trans-Mississippi theatre and at one time was considered a likely successor to Jefferson Davis. Albert Castel draws a fascinating portrait of Price the man—vain, courageous, addicted to secrecy—and produces fresh interpretations and much pertinent new information about the Civil War in the West.
At first Price opposed the secession of Missouri, but as a Southerner and slaveholder his sympathies were with the Confederacy. When the Union party in Missouri resorted to military force, he joined the secessionists and became commander of the Missouri state guard. During the summer of 1861 he attempted to drive the Federals out of Missouri. Armies under Price and General Ben McCulloch defeated Union forces at Wilson’s Creek, and later Price’s forces captured a large Federal garrison at Lexington.
These successes, Castel says, made Price for a time the most popular man in the South. His later campaigns, however, were marked by failure, and he quarreled violently with Jefferson Davis and his military superiors. At the end of the war, Price attempted unsuccessfully to establish a Confederate colony in Mexico.
In relating Price’s life and career, Castel has made a significant contribution to the knowledge and understanding of an important but neglected phase of the Civil War.
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