''An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge'' is one of the most widely anthologized American short stories and is considered Ambrose Bierce's best work of short fiction. First published in Bierce's short story collection Tales of Soldiers and Civilians in 1891, the story centers on Peyton Farquhar, a southern planter who, while not a Confederate Soldier, is about to be hanged by the Union Army for attempting to destroy the railroad bridge at Owl Creek. As Farquhar stands on the bridge with a noose around his neck, Bierce leads the reader to believe that the rope breaks and that Farquhar falls into the water below, only to escape to his farm, where he is reunited with his wife. It is revealed at the end of the story, however, that Farquhar has, in fact, been hanged and that these imaginings took place in the seconds before his death. While ''An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" has been occasionally faulted for what some critics consider its gimmicky ending, it has nonetheless been lauded as an example of technical brilliance and innovative narration as well as for its examination of such themes as the nature of time and the complexities of human cognition.