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[191] when he did arrive to take the Federals in flank, and thus to surround them, they had disappeared, and he found Van Dorn already in possession of Farmington.

The next day this position was abandoned by the Confederates, as they did not think it possible to hold it. This was proof positive either that its defenders should have been reinforced, so as to hold it at all hazards, or that it should have been abandoned without a struggle; but the remembrance of the terrible surprise of Shiloh prevented the Federal general from profiting by the lesson given by the recent campaign of McClellan in Virginia; so that, for fear of running some risk, he was preparing for himself a disappointment similar to that which followed the evacuation of Yorktown. He had determined only to advance his divisions step by step, behind fortifications and breastworks, the zigzag of which was slowly developed through the density of the forest. In this way he expected to manoeuvre against his opponent without exposing himself in the least, and to compel Beauregard, while besieging him, to come out and attack him in his own entrenchments. This was to give his adversary odds in the game, and to allow him great freedom of action. Grant urged Halleck in vain to cross Philips Creek at the extreme right of his line, where there was no enemy in his front, in order to carry the works situated between the Ohio Railroad and that stream; an opening made at that point would have permitted him to turn all the rest of the Confederate line. But the advice of the conqueror of Donelson was not listened to. Fortunately for the Federals, the advanced positions of Thomas' army on the right were entrusted to Sherman. Although the combats, the marches and sickness had reduced his division to two thousand men present for duty, this enterprising general was only waiting for an opportunity to shut up the enemy in his entrenchments, and to break by any kind of success the monotony of the labors imposed upon his soldiers.

This opportunity presented itself, or rather was created by him, on the 17th of May. Hitherto the Federals had remained on the left bank of Bridge Creek, a stream flowing eastward, parallel to Philips Creek, into which it empties below Corinth. These streams are separated by a strong undulation in the ground,

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