Peyton Farquar was a wealthy plantation owner who supported his state of Alabama's decision to secede and join the Confederate States. He hoped to eventually lead men in combat, and he thought by first performing an act of espionage--by spying--that this might lead to a commission in the army. Farquar's act was one of daring, and he certainly had no qualms about undertaking this mission. It may not have been his first, since
Circumstances of an imperious nature, which it is unnecessary to relate here, had prevented him from taking service with that gallant army which had fought the disastrous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth, and he chafed under the inglorious restraint, longing for the release of his energies, the larger life of the soldier, the opportunity for distinction.
Farquar's mistake was trusting the soldier who visited his plantation and suggested the undertaking of burning the bridge. He was a Yankee spy himself, and the Union forces must have had information regarding Farquar's past actions.