Annotation:Old General Price

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OLD GENERAL PRICE. Old-Time, Song. The title appears in a list of traditional Ozarks Mountain fiddle tunes compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954. Randolph had, in 1922, collected a fragmentary song with tune about General Price, thought to be Sterling Price [1] (1809-1867), who served in the Mexican War (with the rank of Colonel, promoted to Brig. General) and was Governor of Chihuahua. In peacetime he became a congressman and Governor of Missouri (1853-1857). At the outbreak of the American Civil War he raised several thousand men for the Confederacy, whose forces he joined with the rank of General in the Army of the West. In 1864 he defeated Union General Steele at Red River, but he lost more battles than he won. In 1864 he commenced on a large cavalry raid into Missouri, with both regular army and irregular troops. It is thought that many in his force may not have been entirely disciplined, however, as there is resentment apparent in Randolph's fragment:

Old General Price is a mighty fine man,
From women an' children he steals all he can,
It's damn any man that will follow his trade...
These hard times..

General Dabney H. Maury records the surrender of the Confederate Army of the West in 1865 in his Recollections of campaign against Grant in North Mississippi in 1862-63:

Old General Price looked on the disorder of his darling troops with unmitigated anguish. The big tears coursed down the old man's bronzed face, and I have never witnessed such a picture of mute despair and grief as his countenance wore when he looked upon the utter defeat of those magnificent troops. He had never before known them to fail, and they never had failed to carry the lines of any enemy in their front ; nor did they ever, to the close of their noble career at Blakely on the 9th of April, 1865, fail to defeat the troops before them. I mean no disparagement to any troops of the Southern Confederacy when I say the Missouri troops of the Army of the West were not surpassed by any troops in the world.

After the defeat of the Confederacy, Price escaped to Mexico with some of his remaining troops, but returned to Missouri where he died in 1867 in poverty. He was not admired in some quarters; Confederate President Jefferson Davis pronounced him "the vainest man I ever met."

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