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Then the Union troops in the field begin to run away. The battle flag falls. The veteran regiments flanking the new troops catcall and jeer the fleeing men. Henry Fleming's regiment is dumbstruck with horror; before they fight, they have just witnessed a regiment's defeat. The officers try to get the running men to stop, using their swords, fists, and cursing to keep them back. They rage with fury at the retreating regiment. The commander of that brigade gallops about on his horse, weeping. He looks like "a man who has come from bed to go to a fire." The fleeing troops pay no attention to any of these officers as they run.
This makes Henry sure he will run. Seeing the "mad current" of retreat swallow up the men's conscience, he is sure that he too will be driven wild and panic with battle. Yet, at the chapter ends, Henry resolves that now is the time he must see the "monster" that made them run, regardless if he runs himself.