The Red Badge of Courage


what was going on while henry was fleeing

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Henry flees and charges toward the rear. He loses his rifle and cap, and his open coat sways in the breeze as he runs. He loses all direction of safety.

The lieutenant suddenly jumps, red-faced, in front of Henry, attempting to keep him there. He swings with his sword. Henry simply continues to run blindly. He falls a few times. As he runs, he sees others running alongside him and hears more fleeing footsteps behind him. He is convinced the regiment is fleeing, chased by the crashing shells.

He continues to run up to the Union battery. Cannon shots go overhead as he speeds through them. The men working the guns seem calm and collected, unaware of their impending doom. They stand on a smoke-ringed hill. Henry feels pity for the poor, unaware fools as he runs. He sees other troops running into battle. Henry is filled with wonder at these fools, speeding to feed the war god.

He runs so far he comes up to a hill where the general and his staff are standing on their horses. Henry considers telling him of the carnage and terror. He also considers thrashing him for his poor judgment and behavior. How could he stay still while such destruction was going on?

The general then calls on an assistant to direct a brigade to send a regiment to the center, where Henry was, for it is in danger of breaking. The assistant returns in a moment with news that the regiment has held. Henry's feeling that doom was imminent turned out not to be true. The general jostles excitedly on his horse.