Short Story #198: A Baffled Ambuscade by Ambrose Bierce

Title: A Baffled Ambuscade

Author: Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceIn an area where Confederate and Federal troops have camps fairly close to each other, there are regular encounters and small battles between the two.  On one night, a squadron of Federal troops was making its way down a dark road.  When they come to the three sentries they sent ahead to only find out that there's two of them, the major inquires about the missing cavalry.  The two explain that the third went riding forward into the darkness.  The consensus is that he ran forward because he was scared.  The squadron continues to move forward but as the road gets darker, the major stops the squadron and goes on ahead.  Further down the road, he sees a dark figure and it's only moonlight that reveals it is the missing cavalryman.  The cavalry's horse is dead and he is standing still over it.  He signals to the major to return.  The major listens and waits for the cavalryman to return.  As morning breaks, the squadron moves forward and finds the cavalryman dead by a  bullet on top of his horse.  When they examine the area behind him, they find that there was Confederate soldiers had been there laying wait until recently.  


So as you can see, I'm shifting into some of Bierce's war stories.  His overall war works are anti-war but there are pieces like this that are something else altogether.  I'm not sure if I fully get the experience of the tale.  Is it suggesting that the cavalryman was brave because he went ahead and not a coward as expressed or that there is a bit of bravery and cowardice in all soldiers?  

Short Story #198 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 7/18/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.