Ambrose Bierce was an American writer, poet, editor, journalist, and satirist. Born in Ohio in 1842, Bierce enlisted in the Union Army and fought at, among others, the Battle of Shiloh. His experiences formed the basis for several stories and his memoir, "What I saw of Shiloh." After the war, he settled in San Francisco and earned a reputation as a contributor and/or editor for a number of local newspapers and periodicals. He spent the years 1872-1875 in England where his first book was published. Upon his return, he traveled throughout the West and worked for a mining company, but when the company failed, he returned to journalism in San Francisco, working for William Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner. Bierce was a biting social critic, and much of his journalistic career was steeped in controversy, but he was also well known for his encouragement of younger writers, such as the poet George Sterling (who is often referred to in the letters in this collection). At the age of 71, Bierce left for South America and disappeared without a trace. His disappearance has become one of the most famous in literary history.