An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

Union Soldiers Character Analysis

Farquhar has been captured by Union soldiers, defined more as a group than by any individual. Though led by a captain who commands the others and presented with specific terms here and there (a sniper with “grey eyes,” for example, or the “dusty” spy who arrives at Farquhar’s doorstep in a Confederate uniform), they remain anonymous and interchangeable, serving as easy stand-ins for the army advancing relentlessly through Southern territory. Bierce is careful to emphasize their precision, their military discipline, and their adherence to soldierly duties as they prepare to hang Farquhar. He describes them in silent, featureless terms—“The sentinels, facing the banks of the stream, might have been statues to adorn the bridge”—and they move with swift, emotionless efficiency. This stands in opposition to Farquhar’s desperate, emotional yearning, which draws a quiet distinction between their side and his. They represent industrial efficiency, they have greater numbers, and they’re concerned with doing everything according to protocol. Farquhar is outnumbered and wedded to romantic notions about his family. The soldiers’ character traits help Farquhar’s stand out all the more prominently, not despite their anonymous and interchangeable nature but because of it.

Union Soldiers Quotes in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

The An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge quotes below are all either spoken by Union Soldiers or refer to Union Soldiers. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Confinement and Escape Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge published in 1994.
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Quotes

A lieutenant stood at the right of the line, the point of his sword upon the ground, his left hand resting upon his right. Excepting the group of four at the center of the bridge, not a man moved.

Related Characters: Peyton Farquhar, Union Soldiers
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
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Evidently this was no vulgar assassin. The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded.

Related Characters: Peyton Farquhar, Union Soldiers
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:
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“My home, thank God, is as yet outside their lines; my wife and little ones are still beyond the invader's farthest advance.”

As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man's brain rather than evolved from it, the captain nodded to the sergeant.

Related Characters: Peyton Farquhar (speaker), Union Soldiers
Related Symbols: Farquhar’s Family
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mrs. Farquhar was only too happy to serve him with her own white hands.

Related Characters: Farquhar’s Wife, Union Soldiers
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
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He observed that it was a gray eye and remembered having read that gray eyes were keenest, in that all famous marksmen had them. Nevertheless, this one had missed.

Related Characters: Peyton Farquhar, Union Soldiers
Related Symbols: The Ticking Watch
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
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As he is about to clasp her, he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon - then all is darkness and silence!

Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.

Related Characters: Peyton Farquhar, Union Soldiers
Related Symbols: Farquhar’s Family
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Union Soldiers Character Timeline in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

The timeline below shows where the character Union Soldiers appears in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
Confinement and Escape Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
The Civil War Theme Icon
...with a noose around his neck and his hands tied behind him. He’s guarded by Union soldiers at either end of the bridge. A Union stockade stands on the far side of... (full context)
Confinement and Escape Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
The Civil War Theme Icon
The Union soldiers finish their preparations, leaving the man to be executed standing over the stream at the... (full context)
The Civil War Theme Icon
One evening, a man in a Confederate uniform rides up to Farquhar’s home and asks for a drink of water. While Farquhar’s wife... (full context)
Confinement and Escape Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
The Civil War Theme Icon
Perception and Reality Theme Icon
The Union soldiers begin to shoot at Farquhar and he swims away, after noting that one of the... (full context)
Confinement and Escape Theme Icon
The Civil War Theme Icon
Perception and Reality Theme Icon
Farquhar runs into the forest, away from the Union soldiers . As he does so, he notes how strange and surreal the landscape is. There... (full context)