Peyton Farquhar, a confederate civilian, lives in South Alabama. He owns a plantation and is thirty-five years old. Even though he is a civilian, he is a very loyal confederate. The story starts off with Farquhar being prepared to be hung.

As he is standing there on the railroad bridge, he stares down into the water that is far below him. He notices a sound. A very slow sound. This is the sound of his watch ticking. This shows that time seems like it is slowing down to him. He thinks to himself that he can somehow escape even though there are many soldiers guarding him.

The soldiers then step off the plank, leaving the one soldier standing there waiting for the signal. Just as the last soldier steps off the plank, Farquhar goes into a flashback? In his flashback, he is sitting on the front porch with his wife, when a man comes along. This man is a soldier, and Peyton thinks that this man is on his own side. The man informs Peyton that Owl Creek Bridge has been taken over. The man goes on saying that since the bridge is only guarded by one person, and someone could easily ignite the dry wood, destroying the bridge.

The man that was suppose to be a confederate soldier, was actually a federal scout. This whole plan was all a trap? Peyton is now awakes from his flashback, as he falls into the water. He immediately starts to take off the ropes around his arms and neck. The rope had caused his neck to hurt severely. The soldiers then begin to shoot at him. He dives down to escape the bullets.

The current had now taken him to the shore. He begins to run through the forest until he becomes very tired. He soon falls asleep. When he wakes up, he is on his own plantation.

He sees his wife on the porch and begins to approach her. As he is about to embrace her, there is a bright light and then there is nothing but silence. Peyton Farquhar is dead, his neck broken, hanged beneath the timbers of Owl Creek Bridge.