An Opportunity Arises
Beauregard would not have long to wait to find the answers to these questions. An impatient John Pope, fresh from his victories on the Mississippi, soon became disenchanted with the sluggish pace of the advance. Pope summarized his thoughts;
“…from the very feeble resistance offered to our advance on any of the roads leading to Corinth and the ease with which close reconnaissance was made I am inclined to think either the enemy is evacuating or that he desires to draw us in on this road.”
Anxious to move on with the campaign he lost sight of his own warning. Pope decided, although he clearly was aware of the danger, to push two divisions (Stanley and Paine) over Seven Mile Creek toward Farmington. Indeed he was acting just as Beauregard had hoped. His two divisions were now isolated and ripe for the picking. Beauregard put his double barreled plan into action.
After moving to within artillery range of the main Confederate defenses at Corinth the Union reconnaissance was met by the Confederate skirmishers who greeted the two companies of the 7th Illinois Cavalry in the lead with a volley that killed one and wounded two. The supporting infantry column deployed its skirmishers, the Yates Sharpshooters, and a lively fire followed. After suffering five casualties (1k, 4w) in the exchange and the “brisk fire” from the enemy batteries the sharpshooters withdrew. Fortunately for Pope the forces on his immediate right (Buell) had not matched his forward thrust as he had requested. Pope realized the gap he had created on his right posed a real threat. If the Confederates attacked there he could be cut off from the remainder of the Federal forces. His concern over this threat and his orders from Halleck to “avoid any general engagement” left him no choice but to recall his divisions to await a more coordinated move with Buell. As an afterthought he ordered Stanley “the second brigade of your command (26th Illinois, 47th Illinois, 8th Wisconsin, and 11th Missouri, under BG Joseph Plummer) bivouac tonight near the creek and on the side toward Farmington throwing out pickets so as to inclose the town. They will be relieved in the morning.” While Pope’s belated awareness of the threat to his right saved the majority of his force the remaining isolated brigade was still available for Beauregard’s blow from the left. Nevertheless, an over confident Pope reported his decision to Halleck in a message that night.
“I am not likely to be taken at disadvantage and trust you will not be uneasy about us.”Battle of Farmington (Campaign Series)