Peyton Farquhar is being hanged as the story opens. In section II of the story the reader is taken back in time and discovers a beginning of the incident which leads to his current position. Peyton is sitting at the front of his property with his wife. A soldier dressed in grey (Confederate) rides up and asks for water. As Peyton's wife goes for the water he asks the soldier what is going on. The soldier explains what is going on at "Owl Creek Bridge" and sets up a trap for Farquhar. Later that night after everyone is asleep the same soldier comes back the same way he had come and the reader learns he is really a Union soldier. He has laid a trap for Peyton and has only to wait for him to fall into it.
Peyton Farquhar's visitor had been a scout for the Union Army.