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Occurrence at the Own Creek Bridge

Occurrence at the Own Creek Bridge is one of the most interesting stories that were ever written by Ambrose Bierce. Of the books that I have read, there is fiction story that I have read that has come close to this book with the story focusing on Peyton Fahrquhar who sympathizes with the confederate forces, decision that soon makes face the hangman’s noose.

Plot summary

The story begins with Fahrquhar standing on top of the rail road bridge waiting to be hanged with six military personnel from the infantry surrounding him. While Fahrquhar waits to be released from the dangling noose, his mind to his wife and children. It is then he hears a clanging noise like one from a blacksmith’s hammer, though it came from the wrist watch he was wearing in his arm. Thinking about the sound between the ‘clanging’, an idea came into his mind, an idea to escape the noose. Fahrquhar thought that he could throw the noose that was hanged around his neck and made a quick jump into the river. By swimming across the river, he could avoid the bullets and make to safety.

The story then takes us back to the home of Fahrquhar who lives in the South who goes to help the confederate side as the war went on. It was one day that a soldier clad in grey uniform accosted Fahrquhar and mentioned to him that the Union Soldiers were repairing a bridge and that sabotage on the operation of the Union Soldiers was much welcomed. Unknown to Fahrquhar, this soldier was a confederate soldiers who had agreed to set up Fahrquhar into a trap knowing that whoever interfered with the bridge would face a hanging. Unknowingly, Fahrquhar subscribes to the idea that he could burn the burn and this demonstrate to the union scout about his ambition to destroy the bridge, of which they took charge of arresting Fahrquhar for this matter making him fall into the water

With Fahrquhar having been arrested and hanging on the noose, the rope which he hangs on breaks and lets him falls into the water. Fahrquhar is amazed however that while underwater, his hands could not move in freedom and even untie the rope that bound him at the neck. At the surface of the water, Fahrquhar realizes that he had senses that surpassed those of the oppressor around him for he could see each and every blade of grass despite him being washed by the water. Realizing that men were shooting at him, Fahrquhar swims to safety and heads home through the woods but on his away, he gets tired, get  foot sores and at the same time famished. Soon Fahrquhar begins to hear unusual noise and experience foreign physiological occurrences. After bracing his way through the words and arriving home, Fahrquhar arrives to see his wife and children waiting only to feel a sharp pain and white flashes then, everything goes black around him.


This story written by Bierce is one of the captivation stories that display the great element of innovativeness from the author who blends both fiction and other life experiences for the benefit of the audience who benefit both by being thrilled at the same time taken through countless number of lesson that affect our day to day life. The story of  Fahrquhar as told by Bierce reveal man efforts to struggle in life while facing numerous challenges that are determined to end one’s life and tenure on earth.

In the case of Fahrquhar, his struggle to release himself from the noose depicts man’s continued struggle to shake off from various forms of captivity. What intrigues me about the story is the author’s use of symbolism where he represents ideas and though using symbols. For instance, the surfacing of Fahrquhar indicate a new birth that man experience once they are freed from fetters holding them though this is  often accompanied by realism of life just like the bullets that Fahrquhar heard being fired on him. In a nutshell, I believe this book is a must read for everyone who has love for fiction and creativity as displayed by Bierce.    

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