After 1893, Bierce produced fewer short stories and seems to have focused on "Prattle" rather than on other literary endeavors.

At Hearst’s request, he left San Francisco for Washington, D.C. in 1896. Hearst aimed to upset the railroad funding bill sponsored by Collis P. Huntington, and wanted his best and most lacerating columnist on location in the capital. Bierce agreed that the corrupt Southern Pacific Railroad should not win further support from Congress, and his famous literary campaign against Huntington helped to defeat the bill. He returned to San Francisco feeling re-energized, but in time seemed to lose his zeal for the usual satirical assaults on his enemies.

In February 1898, Bierce reversed his pacifist position regarding war with Spain. The destruction of the Maine persuaded him that war was necessary in Cuba, and he changed the name of "Prattle" to "War Topics." But during the ensuing Spanish-American War, Bierce reported on events with waning enthusiasm and solemnity. He believed the military incompetent, and again questioned the wisdom of U.S. involvement in Cuba.


In these years, Bierce continued to counsel young writers such as George Sterling and Herman Scheffauer. He at times became estranged from his pupils, particularly those whose work he believed lacked originality and truth.

Bierce applied for permanent transfer to Washington in 1899, and Hearst approved. In Washington, Bierce wrote pieces for the Examiner as well as Cosmopolitan and other magazines. He was entertained by President Roosevelt and other Washingtonians eager to meet the notorious journalist and writer.