ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Mysterious Disappearance of Ambrose Bierce

Updated on December 12, 2019
James Peters profile image

James has won several awards on articles ranging anywhere from killer asteroids to becoming an excellent getaway driver. #HoBoTrails

Ambrose Bierce (June 24, 1842 - 1914(?)

Early Life

Being from total English ancestry, he was born in a log cabin at Horse Cave Creek, Meigs County, Ohio, USA, on June 24, 1842. His parents, Laura Sherwood Bierce and Marcus Aurelius Bierce gave birth to thirteen (13) children all of whom were given names beginning with the letter "A": Ambrose was the tenth (10) child.
The order went like this:

  1. Abigail
  2. Amelia
  3. Ann
  4. Addison
  5. Aurelius
  6. Augustus
  7. Almeda
  8. Andrew
  9. Albert
  10. Ambrose
  11. Arthur
  12. Adelia,
  13. Aurelia

While living in Kosciusko County, Indiana, you could say that it was his parents, Marcus & Laura, who put the desire to read and write and really grasp the wonders of knowledge in his head, but most importantly... in his his heart. Although they were poor, they knew that having an education could lead to a better life.

Civil War Career

Being from Indiana, Ambrose Bierce enlisted in the Union Army's 9th Indiana Infantry in 1861 at around the age of nineteen (19).. He eventually retired at the earned rank of Brevet Major at around the age of 24. During his service, in the American Civil War, he was involved in many battles including:

  • Battle of Philippi (West Virginia)
  • Battle of Laurel Mountain
  • Battle of Rich Mountain
  • Battle of Corrick's Ford
  • Battle of Cheat Mountain
  • Battle of Greenbrier River
  • Battle of Camp Allegheny
  • Battle of Shiloh
  • Siege of Corinth
  • Battle of Perryville
  • Battle of Stones River
  • Battle of Chickamauga
  • Chattanooga Campaign
  • Battle of Lookout Mountain
  • Battle of Missionary Ridge
  • Battle of Resaca
  • Battle of Kennesaw Mountain
  • Atlanta Campaign
  • Battle of Jonesborough
  • Battle of Franklin of 1864
  • Battle of Nashville

Married w/Children

On December 25, 1871, Ambrose married Mary Ellen Day (aka "Mollie"). From 1872 to 1875 the Bierce's lived in England. This is when Ambrose started his writing career. During this time, he worked his way up to a contributing journalist to several popular newspapers and magazines.

They had three children, two (2) sons and a (1) daughter. They were:

  • Day (1872–1889, seventeen (17) years old, death by suicide.
  • Leigh (1874–1901, twenty-seven (27) years old, death caused by pneumonia/alcoholism.
  • Helen (1875–1940), sixty-five (65) years old.

Ambrose Bierce witnessed the death of both of his sons. He would experience the first about a year after he separated from his wife, Mary Ellen Bierce. Ambrose legally divorced Mary Ellen in 1904. Unfortunately, "Mollie" would pass away a year later.

The reason Ambrose divorced Mary Ellen was because he found letters from an admirer to his wife. He was heartbroken and felt betrayed. He must have thought it out long and hard since it took about six (6) years to finally decide on divorce after he separated from her.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Ambrose Bierce

Did He Know...?

The one odd thing about the mysterious disappearance of Ambrose Bierce is that he may have known he was about to disappear. This is in question because in December 1913, Bierce decided to go South down to Chihuahua, Mexico. There he wanted to gain first-hand experience of the Mexican Revolution. Unfortunately, it's rumored (but highly unlikely), the last person who witnessed Bierce in battle said that he was killed and then his body was burned in a pile with the other dead bodies. This is one of the many rumors/theories believed. The Mexican Army is considered to have a hand in the disappearance. This is believed mostly because of the "cryptic note" he left behind before he stepped outside. It read:

Goodbye. If you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs. I shall not be here long enough to hear from you, and don’t know where I shall be next.

It is still unknown what exactly happened to Ambrose Bierce to this day.

The Work of Ambrose Bierce

Bierce wrote several books/stories that received a lot of attention. Those books/stories include:

  • The Devil's Dictionary
  • An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
  • Tales of Soldiers and Civilians

It's been said that Bierce's war stories influenced future great writers such as Stephen Crane and Ernest Hemingway. He was also considered to be an influential, well-respected and mostly feared literary critic.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 James Timothy Peters


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)