Ambrose G. Bierce
Ambrose Bierce, circa 1866.
An important American author, Ambrose Bierce was born on June 24, 1842, in Meigs County, Ohio. He received a limited education and left school at an early age to become a printer's apprentice. With the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Bierce joined an Indiana infantry unit. He remained in the Union Army for the war's duration and participated in numerous battles, including Shiloh and Chickamauga.
In 1866, Bierce left the military with the rank of major. He traveled to San Francisco, California, where he accepted a position with the United States Mint. Bierce also began publishing articles and short stories in various newspapers and magazines, including the News Letter and the Argonaut. In 1868, he became editor of the News Letter, and held that position for the next four years. In 1872, he traveled to Europe, and continued to write various articles.
By 1877, Bierce had returned to California and had become associate editor of the Argonaut. In 1880, he became the editor of the Wasp. In 1877, William Randolph Hearst hired Bierce as a writer for the San Francisco Examiner. Bierce's primary task was to write short stories for the paper, but he also became an excellent reporter.
During his lifetime, Bierce published numerous works. He became well known for his sarcasm and his interest in supernatural topics. Among his most important books are Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in California, Cobwebs From an Empty Skull, The Devil's Dictionary, and Tales of Soldiers and Civilians.
In 1913, Bierce moved to Mexico. He reputedly was unhappy with his life in the United States and was interested in the revolution then underway in Mexico. He sought out Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa and joined his army. It is unclear what happened to Bierce beyond this. Most scholars believe that he died in 1914, while he was with Villa's forces.
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- McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1988.
- Neale, Walter. Life of Ambrose Bierce. New York, NY: AMS Press, 1969.
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- Thomsen, Brian M., ed. Shadows of Blue and Gray: The Civil War Writings of Ambrose Bierce. New York, NY: Forge, 2002.