Sterling Price was a Virginian who came to Missouri in 1831 to pursue a career in law and politics. He represented Missouri in Congress in 1845-46, then distinguished himself during service in the Mexican War and was promoted to Brigadier General. He served as governor of Missouri from 1853 to 1857 and was a conditional Unionist in the years leading up to the Civil War. But policies of the more aggressive Unionists, climaxed by the Camp Jackson affair mentioned earlier, convinced Price to join forces with Governor Jackson and he was appointed commander of the State Militia. Despite initial victories at Wilson's Creek and Lexington in the first year of the war, Price's position in the latter months of 1861 was desperate due to the lack of men and supplies. This proclamation reflects that desperation.
In the month of June last I was called to command a handful of Missourians, who nobly gave up home and comfort to espouse, in that gloomy hour, the cause of your bleeding country, struggling with the most causeless and cruel despotism known among civilized men. When peace and protection could no longer be enjoyed but at the price of honor and liberty, your chief magistrate called for 50,000 men to drive the ruthless invader from a soil made fruitful by your labors and consecrated by your homes.
To that call less than 5,000 responded; out of a male population exceeding 200,000 men, one in forty only stepped forward to defend with their persons and their lives the cause of constitutional liberty and human rights....
Where are those 50,000 men? Are Missourians no longer true to themselves? Are they a timid, time-serving, craven race, fit only for subjection to a despot?
... Where are our Southern-rights friends? We must drive the oppressor from our land. I must have 50,000 men. Now is the crisis of your fate; now the golden opportunity to save the state; now is the day of your political salvation. The time of enlistment for our brave band is beginning to expire. Do not tax their patience beyond endurance; do not longer sicken their hearts by hope deferred. They begin to inquire, "Where are our friends?" Who shall give them an answer?