Some books really give you a feel for a specific time and place. "The Tale of Two Cities" does that for me with the French Revolution. It's not so much that it gives a sophisticated intellectual understanding as that it gives a vivid impression of what it may have been like to live there at that time. Perhaps all really great books do this, but it seems to me some do it more than others. This collection of short stories by Bierce is one of them. In it I get a feel for what the actual people who fought the Civil War are like, how they are different from other people who fought other wars. It may not all be accurate although it is informed by personal experience, but none the less it throws a striking image on the mind of the times and personalities involved.
The stories themselves are for the most part driven by twist endings. Whether or not this is the highest form of the short story, the stories are readable and pungent. One comes away with a strong sense of how Bierce saw the war without him for the most part resorting to direct commentary. Very satisfying.