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An unidentified man is standing on a railroad bridge (presumably the Owl Creek Bridge) in northern Alabama. He is about to be hanged: His hands are bound and tied, and his neck is in a noose, which is "attached to a stout cross-timber above his head." Several boards are placed across the railroad tracks on which the man stands. Troops of the Federal army--two privates and a sergeant--stand guard; a captain is also present; and on either end of the bridge are two sentinels who serve as sentries without apparent knowledge of the events that are transpiring between them.
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