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
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
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.
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
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.