Mosby Monroe Parsons was born on May 21, 1822, in Charlottesville, VA. His father, Gustavus Adolphus Parsons, was the last personal secretary to President Thomas Jefferson. The Parsons family moved to Jefferson City in 1840, and Parsons attended St. Charles College. in 1846, he became a member of the Missouri Bar.
During the U.S.-Mexican War, Parsons rallied a company of volunteers, called the Cole County Dragoons, and was given the rank of captain. Parsons saw action during an expedition to Chihuahua, Mexico, and fought in the battles of Brazito and Sacremento. He returned to Missouri in 1847.
In 1856, Parsons was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives from Cole County, and was subsequently elected to the Missouri Senate after just one term in the House. In 1861, Parsons initiated the “Military Bill,” which organized a Missouri militia to resist invasion. When the Missouri State Guard was activated by Governor Claiborne Jackson, Parsons was given command of the Sixth Division and the rank of General.
General Parsons led his troops against Franz Sigel in Carthage, Missouri, and many newspapers at the time considered this battle the first major engagement between the North and the South.
General Parsons engaged in the battles at Oak Hills, Drywood Creek, and Lexington, before being appointed Commander of the Missouri State Guard in 1862, after the previous commander, Sterling Price, had been commissioned to the Confederate Army. General Parsons was wary of committing the Missouri Guard to the Confederate Army because he did not want his troops to leave the Show-Me State. Nevertheless, Governor Jackson turned the Missouri Guard over to the Confederate Army later that year, and Parsons was named brigadier general of the Confederate Army. Parsons saw action at Carthage, Springfield, Pea Ridge, Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, Mark’s Mill and Jenkin’s Ferry.
After the Confederate surrender at Shreveport, Louisiana, Parsons fled to Mexico. It is believed that Parsons, along with other Confederates, joined the imperial forces of Emperor Maximilian. Soon after, in 1865, he was attacked and killed by Mexican guerrillas, and was probably buried near China, Mexico.← Ott, Philip Hawkins, Scott P. →