Civil War Stories by Ambrose Bierce


Feb 20, 2005
SE Michigan
Civil War Stories by Ambrose Bierce

Newspaperman, short-story writer, poet and satirist, Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) is one of the most striking and unusual literary figures America has produced. Dubbed "Bitter Bierce" for his vitriolic wit and biting satire, his fame rests largely on a celebrated compilation of barbed epigrams, "The Devil's Dictionary", and a book of short stories ("Tales of Soldiers and Civilians," 1891). Most of the 16 selections in this volume have been taken from the latter collection.

The stories in this edition include:

What I Saw at Shiloh
Four Days in Dixie
A Horseman in the Sky
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
A Son of the Gods
One of the Missing
The Coup de Grace
The Story of a Conscience
One Kind of Officer
The Mocking Bird
...Plus 5 more

Bierce's stories employ a buildup of suggestive realistic detail to produce grim and vivid tales often disturbing in their mood of fatalism and impending calamity. Hauntingly suggestive, they offer excellent examples of the author's dark pessimism and storytelling power.

Paperback, 123 pgs. $1.50

I have read the first of the stories, "What I saw at Shiloh" and was struck by the contrast between the eerie world of battle and nature at its best. A sense of unrealism pervades the tale. Bierce was one of the first to 'break the silence' against stories on and about the Civil War that provaded journalism for much of the early 1870's, an attempt perhaps to allow the wounds to heal before examining the scars left by this conflict. Stephen Crane acknoledges Bierce's writtings as having provided much of the tone of 'The Red Badge of Courage.'

I will add more as I complete additional articles in my reading.


Feb 20, 2005
Bierce is the Rod Serling of his day. The moral overtones and the "serlingesque" way of telling a story is truly one of a kind. My favorite is "Horseman in the sky", followed by "An Occurence...." I first saw this story portrayed in a twilight zone episode in the '60'S. Needless to say it really made an impression on me{being 11 or 12 at the time.} The episode itself wasn't done by serling but by a french filmaker;thats why you won't see this episode in reruns.It is available on vhs...

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