The setting at the beginning of the short story, "An Occurrence at Owl Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce," is the actual bridge itself. The story's central location is "a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below" (1). The occasion is a military style execution by hanging.
The author gives the reader early details about the setting in the exposition. Little clues like "Federal soldier" and "a planter" suggest that the story takes place in the Civil War; this hunch is confirmed later in the story during Peyton's flashback. The opening of the story also reveals that soldiers surround the bridge and numerous spectators a little farther away who have come to witness the hanging.