Born in Ohio, Bierce enlisted in the Union Army[?] at the outset of the American Civil War and fought in several of its most important battles. He served as an advance scout, making topographical sketches of likely battlefields, and also participated in combat.
After the war he retired from the army at the rank of brevet Major, and in 1867 moved to San Francisco, where he worked for many years as a regular columnist and editorialist for William Randolph Hearst's newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner.
His short stories are considered among the best of the 19th century. He wrote of the terrible things he had seen in the war in such stories as "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and "Chickamauga".
Bierce was reckoned as a master of "pure" English by his contemporaries, and virtually everything that came from his pen was notable for its judicious wording and economy of style. He wrote skillfully in a variety of literary genres, and in addition to his celebrated ghost and war stories he published several volumes of poetry and verse. His Fantastic Fables anticipated the ironic style of grotesquerie that turned into a genre in the 20th century. One of Bierce's most famous works is The Devil's Dictionary, originally a newspaper serialization, that offered an interesting reinterpretation of the English language in which cant and political double-talk were neatly lampooned.
Bierce's twelve-volume Collected Works were published in 1912. In October 1913 the septuagenarian went to Mexico, then in the throes of revolution, to join the army of Pancho Villa. His wrote a last letter on December 26, 1913 and was expecting to travel to the Battle of Ojinaga[?]. He disappeared and subsequent investigations to ascertain his fate were fruitless and his disappearance remains a mystery.
Following are some examples from The Devil's Dictionary: