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Ambrose Bierce Disappearance

I love reading horror stories and one of my favourite writers was Ambrose Bierce. As a Mexican-American I've always been very intrigued by him because Bierce (an American writer) disappeared mysteriously in Mexico in 1913. I have written a little about his disappearance below.

During his lifetime Ambrose Bierce was one of America's most celebrated literary figures. He was well known throughout the world for his political satires as well as his numerous ghost stories and was regarded as one of the great writers of horror stories of his day. He also liked writing realistic stories with a war setting, due in part to his own terrible experiences serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. Perhaps for this reason, he set out for Mexico in 1913, aged 71, to gain firsthand knowledge and experience of the ongoing Mexican Revolution.

In the northern city of Ciudad Juarez, Bierce, despite his age, enlisted in the army of Pancho Villa as an observer. He is known to have travelled with Villa's army as far as Chihuahua, where he wrote a letter to a friend dated December 26th 1913. It was the last anyone heard from him. Bierce was never seen nor heard from again.

Theories over what happened to Ambrose Bierce are numerous with many wild and unlikely hypotheses having been advanced over the past century. In the town of Sierra Mojada, in Coahuila a tradition exists that he was executed by firing squad in the town cemetery, although no record of this exists and nobody is able to identify Bierce's grave or even to disclose the reason for his execution. There are claims that Bierce was attacked and robbed by bandits. As a wealthy American in the lawless land of Mexico he would have been an easy target.

Some have speculated he may have been spying for the U.S government and discreetly taken care of when Pancho Villa discovered this, although again there is no evidence. Suicide has also been suggested, but there did not seem to be any reason for Bierce to take his own life.

Some tales tell of him travelling far south to the Yucatan rainforest and being captured and eaten by cannibals, or being captured and sacrificed to the ancient deities by a surviving cult of Aztecs. Although these are unlikely, either would have been a fitting end to such a master of the horror story!

Adriana Aguirre-Santos

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Ian Topham
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Re: Ambrose Bierce Disappearance

A retired American priest named James Lienert investigated the theory of Bierce being executed in the cemetary at Sierra Mojada in 1914.  At his own expense he has a gravestone for Ambrose placed.



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