Ambrose Bierce became a man during the Civil War. He enlisted before he was 20 and saw action from the very beginning. He fought at the battle of Shiloh in 1862 and was wounded in the head two years later. After the conflict, Bierce traded his musket for a pen and wrote some of the most biting satire of the age.
In his humorous Devil's Dictionary, in which he sought to expose selfishness and egotism, Bierce fixated on a concept that was particularly important to his era: Providence. He defined appetite, for instance, as "an instinct thoughtfully implanted by Providence as a solution to the labor problem." When it came time to define providential, Bierce explained it as "unexpectedly and conspicuously beneficial to the person so describing it."