"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" or "A Dead Mans Dream" is a short story by American author Ambrose Bierce (1842–1913). Originally published by The San Francisco Examiner in 1890, it was first collected in Bierce's 1891 book Tales of Soldiers and Civilians. The story, which is set during the Civil War, is famous for its irregular time sequence and twist ending. It is Bierce's most anthologized story. Set during the American Civil War, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is the story of Peyton Farquhar, a Confederate sympathizer condemned to death by hanging from Owl Creek Bridge. Several adaptations of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" have been produced. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is an elaborately devised commentary on the fluid nature of time. The story’s structure, which moves from the present to the past to what is revealed to be the imagined present, reflects this fluidity as well as the tension that exists among competing notions of time.
Reality and illusion operate side by side in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” and until the end of the story, we aren’t aware of any division between them—Farquhar’s illusion is, for us as readers, reality. The Owl Creek Bridge suggests connection and transition.