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to get the lines of previous commands and from the numbers on the left hand side I found the line I wanted repeated (eg. 22) and did
at the command prompt and it worked -- executing the set of commands on the line I did at that time. I cannot figure out where the exclamation mark is used, what does it represent in terms of actions taken by bash, and where to use it. From the documentation I do not see an explanation that is 'tangible'.