Farquhar and his wife greet the weary stranger with open arms. As die-hard supporters of the Confederate cause, they're only too happy to help out someone they believe to be on the same side. The gray-clad soldier asks the Farquhars for a drop of water as he's feeling rather thirsty, and Mrs. Farquhar immediately obliges.
While she goes off to fetch the water, Mr. Farquhar pumps the stranger for information concerning the progress of the Civil War. He's eager to hear all the news from the front. That's when the soldier tells Farquhar that the Yankees are repairing the railroads in preparation for another advance. They've reached the Owl Creek Bridge and have built a stockade on the north bank.
The bridge clearly has great strategic significance as the Union commandant has issued an order stating that any civilian caught interfering with the railroad or its bridges, tunnels, or trains will be summarily hanged.
Despite this warning, Farquhar makes the thirty-mile journey to the Owl Creek Bridge where he intends to commit an act of sabotage by blowing the bridge up. Unbeknownst to him, however, the gray-clad stranger to which he and his wife showed such hospitality wasn't a Confederate soldier at all but a Union scout in disguise. So Farquhar has just walked right into a deadly trap.