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THere is still a lot of passion behind the American Civil war. I can imagine that at the time of first publication, the emotional wounds of this war were still fresh and raw. Crane's sense of authenticity brings this conflict to life every time someone opens a book. I think Crane wanted to show us a view from the South. He wanted to show us the maturation of a boy into a man through a baptism of fire. Henry is quite a likeable and accessible character. He could just as well have been fighting for the North. The themes of war seem universal.