She gave him hundreds ofreasons why he was needed on the farm and not in the war. Henry knew his motherwould not want him to enlist, but it was his decision to make. He dreamed of thebattles of war, and of what it would be like to fight in those glorious battles. He didn’t want to stay on the farm with nothing to do, so he made his finaldecision to enlist. After enlisting he finds himself in a similar situation,with nothing to do.
While there he becomes friends with two other soldiers, JohnWilson, “the loud soldier / “the friend” and Jim Conklin,”the tall soldier”. Wilson was a loud spoken and obnoxious soldier whobecomes one of Henry’s best friends. Jim was a tall soldier and was a childhoodfriend of Henry’s. He was always calm and matter-of-fact like. He also lovespork sandwiches as that is all he eats. Wilson was as excited about going to waras Henry, while Jim was confident about the success of the new regiment.
Wilsonis acts very confident, and boasts of how well he will fight. After a few daysof marching, Henry realizes that they have been wandering about aimlessly incircles. They continue to march wothout purpose, direction, and fighting. Duringthis time Henry starts to think diffrently about war, amore close experiencedway. He starts to lose some of his ideals of war, and starts to become scared ofrunning away from a batlle. Lieutenant Hasbrouck, a young lieutenant of the304th regiment (Henry’s regiment), is an extremely brave man.
He also isconstantly cursing. He, unlike the other officers, cares about and defends histroops performance and makes sure they get the recognition they deserve. He is atrue leader and he is a model of what Henry and Wilson wish to become. After awhile the regiment finally discovers a battle taking place. Jim gives Henry ayellow envelope with a packet inside.
He is confident that he will die, and saysthat this will be his first and last battle. The regiment manages to hold offthe rebels during the first attack, but the rebels like machines of steel;relentlessly came back again and again with reinforcements driving the soldiersback. Henry becomes scared, confused, and goes into a trance when he sees hisforces depleting. He finally gets up and starts to run like a “proverbialchicken”, who has lost the direction of safety.
After he has run away hestarts to anaylze himself and rationalize his actions. At first he thinkshimself a a coward for running, and later he feels he was just saving himselffor later. He thinks nature does not want him to die, eventhough his side waslosing. He believes he was intelligent to run, and hopes he will die in battleto spite.
Henry, still running, is met by a “tattered soldier” and hecomes upon Jim who has been wounded badly. He does not complain about his pain,but asks Henry to move him out the road so he is not run over by artillerywagons. Even in his agony, he is concered about Henry and asks how he is faring. As his death grew nearer, Jim runs into a field looking for a suitable place todie.
He ignores Henry’s offers of help, and as his body jerked horribly, hefalls and dies. The only other witness to his death, “the tatteredsoldier”, is impressed mostly by Jim’s bravery and courage. The tatteredsoldier appears to be a simple and innocent man. Though he is very simplisticand unsophisticated, he is a brave, kind, and responsible man. Henry walks awayhurting inside and dangerous to himself. In the charge ahead Henry asks fleeingsoldiers why they are running.
He grabs a comrad and asked “why why”all the while holding his arm. The man struggling to be let go, hits Henry overthe head with the butt of his rifle, thus giving Henry his first Red Badge ofCourage. Henry stumbles across the battle field trying to stay on his feet. Hemeets a “cheery voiced man” who helps him get back to his regiment.
The “cheery voiced man” not only lacks a name, but Henry never seeshis face. He appears to be a ordinary man who can skillfully manuveur throughthe forest and patrols. At his regiment he meets up with Wilson again, and getsthe wound on his head tended to. After resting for a little while he gets backinto the battle. He felt the generals were a bunch of “lunkheads” formaking them retreat instead of confronting the enemy.
Henry starts to think thathe and Wilson are going to die, but go into battle anyway. In the battle achange goes over Henry. He starts to fume with rage and exhaustion. He seemed tohave a wild hate for his relentless foe. He felt that he and his companions werebeing taunted and being made fun of.
In a following battle, he and Wilson havethe oppurtunity to carry the regiment’s flag. After a bit of scuffiling Wilsontakes the flag out, but later in the battle Henry manages to get thge rebel flagand runs up the line with Lieutenant Hasbrouck leading the way. In the battle hefought like a “Major General”, and he has grown up a great deal. He isnot afraid of dying anymore.