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Full text of "The red badge of courage : an episode of the American Civil War"


HE RED BADGE 
OF COURAGE 



BY 



TEPHEN CRANE 






mfru^ 

University of California Berkeley 



STEPHEN CRANE'S BOOKS. 

UNIFORM EDITION. 



The Third Violet. i2mo. Cloth, $1.00. 

" We recognize a vividness of portraiture which puts ' The 
Third Violet ' on a high level. . . . We have never come across a 
book that brought certain sections of American society so perfectly 
before the reader." London Athenaeum. 

" By this latest product of his genius our impression of Mr. 
Crane is confirmed, that for psychological insight, for dramatic 
intensity, and for potency of phrase, he is already in the front rank 
of English and American writers of fiction ; and that he possesses 
a certain separate quality which places him apart." London 
A cademy. 

The Red Badge of Courage. An Episode of the 
American Civil War. i2mo. Cloth, $1.00. 

" Never before have we had the seamy side of glorious war so 
well depicted." Chicago Evening Post. 

" We have had many stories of the war; this stands absolutely 
alone." Boston Transcript. 

" Has no parallel, unless it be Tolstoi's ' Sebastopol.' " San 
Francisco Chronicle. 

" Has been surpassed by few writers dealing with war." New 
York Mail and Express. 

The Little Regiment, and Other Episodes of the 
American Civil War. i2mo. Cloth, $1.00. 

"The reader has no privileges. He must, it seems, take his 
place in the ranks, and stand in the mud, wade in the river, fight, 
yell, swear, and sweat with the men. He has some sort of feeling, 
when it is all over, that he has been doing just these things. This 
sort of writing needs no praise. It will make its way to the hearts 
of men without praise." New York Times. 

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, izmo. Cloth, 75 
cents. 

" By writing ' Maggie ' Mr. Crane has made for himself a per- 
manent place in literature." New York Mail and Express. 

" Full of clever descriptions. . . . Written in short, terse 
sentences, which compel the imagination rather than stimulate it." 
Boston Herald. 

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK. 



Badge 
Of Gourage 

3h Gpxsode of the Hmencan CRtnl XCIar 

sy 
Stephen Granc 




jfppteton and Obmpany 
INI 



COPYRIGHT, 1894, 
BY STEPHEN CRANE. 

COPYRIGHT, 1895, 
BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE cold passed reluctantly from the earth, 
and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched 
out on the hills, resting. As the landscape 
changed from brown to green, the army awak- 
ened, and began to tremble with eagerness at the 
noise of rumors. It cast its eyes upon the roads, 
which were growing from long troughs of liquid 
mud to proper thoroughfares. A river, amber- 
tinted in the shadow of its banks, purled at the 
army's feet ; and at night, when the stream had 
become of a sorrowful blackness, one could see 
across it the red, eyelike gleam of hostile camp- 
fires set in the low brows of distant hills. 

Once a certain tall soldier developed virtues 
and went resolutely to wash a shirt. He came 
flying back from a brook waving his garment 
bannerlike. He was swelled with a tale he had 
heard from a reliable friend, who had heard it 



2 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

from a truthful cavalryman, who had heard it 
from his trustworthy brother, one of the order- 
lies at division headquarters. He adopted the 
important air of a herald in red and gold. 

" We're goin' t' move t' morrah sure," he 
said pompously to a group in the company 
street. " We're goin' 'way up the river, cut 
across, an' come around in behint 'em." 

To his attentive audience he drew a loud 
and elaborate plan of a very brilliant campaign. 
When he had finished, the blue-clothed men 
scattered into small arguing groups between the 
rows of squat brown huts. A negro teamster who 
had been dancing upon a cracker box with the 
hilarious encouragement of twoscore soldiers 
was deserted. He sat mournfully down. Smoke 
drifted lazily from a multitude of quaint chim- 
neys. 

" It's a lie ! that's all it is a thunderin' lie ! " 
said another private loudly. His smooth face was 
flushed, and his hands were thrust sulkily into his 
trousers' pockets. He took the matter as an 
affront to him. " I don't believe the derned old 
army's ever going to move. We're set. I've 
got ready to move eight times in the last two 
weeks, and we ain't moved yet." 

The tall soldier felt called upon to defend 
the truth of a rumor he himself had intro- 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 3 

duced. He and the loud one came near to fight- 
ing over it. 

A corporal began to swear before the assem- 
blage. He had just put a costly board floor in 
his house, he said. During the early spring he 
had refrained from adding extensively to the 
comfort of his environment because he had felt 
that the army might start on the march at any 
moment. Of late, however, he had been im- 
pressed that they were in a sort of eternal camp. 

Many of the men engaged in a spirited debate. 
One outlined in a peculiarly lucid manner all the 
plans of the commanding general. He was op- 
posed by men who advocated that there were 
other plans of campaign. They clamored at each 
other, numbers making futile bids for the pop- 
ular attention. Meanwhile, the soldier who had 
fetched the rumor bustled about with much 
importance. He was continually assailed by 
questions. 

" What's up, Jim ? " 

" Th' army's goin' t' move." 

" Ah, what yeh talkin' about ? How yeh know 
it is?" 

" Well, yeh kin b'lieve me er not, jest as yeh 
like. I don't care a hang." 

There was much food for thought in the man- 
ner in which he replied. He came near to con- 



4 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

vincing them by disdaining to produce proofs. 
They grew much excited over it. 

There was a youthful private who listened 
with eager ears to the words of the tall soldier 
and to the varied comments of his comrades. 
After receiving a fill of discussions concerning 
marches and attacks, he went to his hut and 
crawled through an intricate hole that served it 
as a door. He wished to be alone with some 
new thoughts that had lately come to him. 

He lay down on a wide bank that stretched 
across the end of the room. In the other end, 
cracker boxes were made to serve as furniture. 
They were grouped about the fireplace. A pic- 
ture from an illustrated weekly was upon the log 
walls, and three rifles were paralleled on pegs. 
Equipments hung on handy projections, and some 
tin dishes lay upon a small pile of firewood. A 
folded tent was serving as a roof. The sunlight, 
without, beating upon it, made it glow a light 
yellow shade. A small window shot an oblique 
square of whiter light upon the cluttered floor. 
The smoke from the fire at times neglected the 
clay chimney and wreathed into the room, and 
this flimsy chimney of clay and sticks made end- 
less threats to set ablaze the whole establishment. 

The youth was in a little trance of astonish- 
ment. So they were at last going to fight. On 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 5 

the morrow, perhaps, there would be a battle, and 
he would be in it. For a time he was obliged 
to labor to make himself believe. He could not 
accept with assurance an omen that he was about 
to mingle in one of those great affairs of the earth. 

He had, of course, dreamed of battles all 
his life of vague and bloody conflicts that had 
thrilled him with their sweep and fire. In visions 
he "had seen himself in many struggles. He had 
imagined peoples secure in the shadow of his 
eagle-eyed prowess. But awake he had regarded 
battles as crimson blotches on the pages of the 
past. He had put them as things of the bygone 
with his thought-images of heavy crowns and 
high castles. There was a portion of the world's 
history which he had regarded as the time of 
wars, but it, he thought, had been long gone over 
the horizon and had disappeared forever. 

From his home his youthful eyes had looked 
upon the war in his own country with distrust. 
It must be some sort of a play affair. He had 
long despaired of witnessing a Greeklike struggle. 
Such would be no more, he had said. Men were 
better, or more timid. Secular and religious 
education had effaced the throat-grappling in- 
stinct, or else firm finance held in check the pas- 
sions. 

He had burned several times to enlist. Tales 



6 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

of great movements shook the land. They might 
not be distinctly Homeric, but there seemed to 
be much glory in them. He had read of marches, 
sieges, conflicts, and he had longed to see it all. 
His busy mind had drawn for him large pictures 
extravagant in color, lurid with breathless deeds. 

But his mother had discouraged him. She 
had affected to look with some contempt upon 
the quality of his war ardor and patriotism. She 
could calmly seat herself and with no apparent 
difficulty give him many hundreds of reasons 
why he was of vastly more importance on the 
farm than on the field of battle. She had had 
certain ways of expression that told him that her 
statements on the subject came from a deep con- 
viction. Moreover, on her side, was his belief 
that her ethical motive in the argument was 
impregnable. 

At last, however, he had made firm rebellion 
against this yellow light thrown upon the color of 
his ambitions. The newspapers, the gossip of the 
village, his own picturings, had aroused him to 
an uncheckable degree. They were in truth 
fighting finely down there. Almost every day 
the newspapers printed accounts of a decisive 
victory. 

One night, as he lay in bed, the winds had 
carried to him the clangoring of the church bell 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 7 

as some enthusiast jerked the rope frantically to 
tell the twisted news of a great battle. This 
voice of the people rejoicing in the night had 
made him shiver in a prolonged ecstasy of ex- 
citement. Later, he had gone down to his 
mother's room and had spoken thus: "Ma, I'm 
going to enlist." 

" Henry, don't you be a fool," his mother had 
replied. She had then covered her face with the 
quilt. There was an end to the matter for that 
night. 

Nevertheless, the next morning he had gone 
to a town that was near his mother's farm and 
had enlisted in a company that was forming there. 
When he had returned home his mother was 
milking the brindle cow. Four others stood 
waiting. " Ma, I've enlisted," he had said to her 
diffidently. There was a short silence. "The 
Lord's will be done, Henry," she had finally 
replied, and had then continued to milk the 
brindle cow. 

When he had stood in the doorway with his 
soldier's clothes on his back, and with the light of 
excitement and expectancy in his eyes almost 
defeating the glow of regret for the home bonds, 
he had seen two tears leaving their trails on his 
mother's scarred cheeks. 

Still, she had disappointed him by saying 



8 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

nothing whatever about returning with his shield 
or on it. He had privately primed himself for a 
beautiful scene. He had prepared certain sen- 
tences which he thought could be used with 
touching effect. But her words destroyed his 
plans. She had doggedly peeled potatoes and 
addressed him as follows: " You watch out, 
Henry, an* take good care of yerself in this here 
fighting business you watch out, an' take good 
care of yerself. Don't go a-thinkin' you can 
lick the hull rebel army at the start, because yeh 
can't. Yer jest one little feller amongst a hull lot 
of others, and yeh've got to keep quiet an' do what 
they tell yeh. I know how you are, Henry. 

" I've knet yeh eight pair of socks, Henry, and 
I've put in all yer best shirts, because I want my 
boy to be jest as warm and comf'able as anybody 
in the army. Whenever they get holes in 'em, I 
want yeh to send 'em right-away back to me, so's 
I kin dern 'em. 

" An' allus be careful an' choose yer comp'ny. 
There's lots of bad men in the army, Henry. 
The army makes 'em wild, and they like nothing 
better than the job of leading off a young feller 
like you, as ain't never been away from home 
much and has allus had a mother, an' a-learning 
'em to drink and swear. Keep clear of them 
folks, Henry. I don't want yeh to ever do any- 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 9 

thing, Henry, that yeh would be 'shamed to let 
me know about. Jest think as if I was a-watchin' 
yeh. If yeh keep that in yer mind allus, I guess 
yeh'll come out about right. 

" Yeh must allus remember yer father, too, 
child, an* remember he never drunk a drop of 
licker in his life, and seldom swore a cross oath. 

" I don't know what else to tell yeh, Henry, 
excepting that yeh must never do no shirking, 
child, on my account. If so be a time comes when 
yeh have to be kilt or do a mean thing, why, 
Henry, don't think of anything 'cept what's right, 
because there's many a woman has to bear up 
'ginst sech things these times, and the Lord '11 
take keer of us all. 

" Don't forgit about the socks and the shirts, 
child ; and I've put a cup of blackberry jam with 
yer bundle, because I know yeh like it above all 
things. Good-by, Henry. Watch out, and be a 
good boy." 

He had, of course, been impatient under the 
ordeal of this speech. It had not been quite what 
he expected, and he had borne it with an air of 
irritation. He departed feeling vague relief. 

Still, when he had looked back from the gate, 
he had seen his mother kneeling among the po- 
tato parings. Her brown face, upraised, was 
stained with tears, and her spare form was quiver- 



10 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

ing. He bowed his head and went on, feeling 
suddenly ashamed of his purposes. 

From his home he had gone to the seminary 
to bid adieu to many schoolmates. They had 
thronged about him with wonder and admiration. 
He had felt the gulf now between them and had 
swelled with calm pride. He and some of his 
fellows who had donned blue were quite over- 
whelmed with privileges for all of one afternoon, 
and it had been a very delicious thing. They had. 
strutted. 

A certain light-haired girl had made vivacious 
fun at his martial spirit, but there was another and 
darker girl whom he had gazed at steadfastly, and 
he thought she grew demure and sad at sight of 
his blue and brass. As he had walked down the 
path between the rows of oaks, he had turned his 
head and detected her at a window watching his 
departure. As he perceived her, she had im- 
mediately begun to stare up through the high 
tree branches at the sky. He had seen a good 
deal of flurry and haste in her movement as she 
changed her attitude. He often thought of it. 

On the way to Washington his spirit had 
soared. The regiment was fed and caressed at 
station after station until the youth had believed 
that he must be a hero. There was a lavish ex- 
penditure of bread and cold meats, coffee, and 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. n 

pickles and cheese. As he basked in the smiles 
of the girls and was patted and complimented by 
the old men, he had felt growing within him the 
strength to do mighty deeds of arms. 

After complicated journeyings with many 
pauses, there had come months of monotonous 
life in a .camp. He had had the belief that real 
war was a series of death struggles with small 
time in between for sleep and meals ; but since his 
regiment had come to the field the army had done 
little but sit still and try to keep warm. 

He was brought then gradually back to his old 
ideas. Greeklike struggles would be no more. 
Men were better, or more timid. Secular and 
religious education had effaced the throat-grap- 
pling instinct, or else firm finance held in check 
the passions. 

He had grown to regard himself merely as a 
part of a vast blue demonstration. His province 
was to look out, as far as he could, for his per- 
sonal comfort. For recreation he could twiddle 
his thumbs and speculate on the thoughts which 
must agitate the minds of the generals. Also, he 
was drilled and drilled and reviewed, and drilled 
and drilled and reviewed. 

The only foes he had seen were some pickets 
along the river bank. They were a sun-tanned, 
philosophical lot, who sometimes shot reflectively 



12 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

at the blue pickets. When reproached for this 
afterward, they usually expressed sorrow, and 
swore by their gods that the guns had exploded 
without their permission. The youth, on guard 
duty one night, conversed across the stream with 
one of them. He was a slightly ragged man, who 
spat skillfully between his shoes and possessed a 
great fund of bland and infantile assurance. The 
youth liked him personally. 

"Yank," the other had informed him, "yer a 
right dum good feller." This sentiment, floating 
to him upon the still air, had made him tempo- 
rarily regret war. 

Various veterans had told him tales. Some 
talked of gray, bewhiskered hordes who were 
advancing with relentless curses and chewing 
tobacco with unspeakable valor ; tremendous 
bodies of fierce soldiery who were sweeping 
along like the Huns. Others spoke of tattered 
and eternally hungry men who fired despondent 
powders. " They'll charge through hell's fire an' 
brimstone t' git a holt on a haversack, an' sech 
stomachs ain't a-lastin' long," he was told. From 
the stories, the youth imagined the red, live bones 
sticking out through slits in the faded uniforms. 

Still, he could not put a whole faith in veter- 
ans' tales, for recruits were their prey. They 
talked much of smoke, fire, and blood, but he 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 13 

could not tell how much might be lies. They 
persistently yelled " Fresh fish ! " at him, and were 
in no wise to be trusted. 

However, he perceived now that it did not 
greatly matter what kind of soldiers he was going 
to fight, so long as they fought, which fact no one 
disputed. There was a more serious problem. He 
lay in his bunk pondering upon it. He tried to 
mathematically prove to himself that he would 
not run from a battle. 

Previously he had never felt obliged to wrestle 
too seriously with this question. In his life he had 
taken certain things for granted, never challeng- 
ing his belief in ultimate success, and bothering 
little about means and roads. But here he was 
confronted with a thing of moment. It had sud- 
denly appeared to him that perhaps in a battle he 
might run. He was forced to admit that as far as 
war was concerned he knew nothing of himself. 

A sufficient time before he would have allowed 
the problem to kick its heels at the outer portals 
of his mind, but now he felt compelled to give 
serious attention to it. 

A little panic-fear grew in his mind. As his 
imagination went forward to a fight, he saw hide- 
ous possibilities. He contemplated the lurking 
menaces of the future, and failed in an effort to 
see himself standing stoutly in the midst of them. 



I 4 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

He recalled his visions of broken-bladed glory, 
but in the shadow of the impending tumult he 
suspected them to be impossible pictures. 

He sprang from the bunk and began to pace 
nervously to and fro. " Good Lord, what's th' 
matter with me ? " he said aloud. 

He felt that in this crisis his laws of life were 
useless. Whatever he had learned of himself was 
here of no avail. He was an unknown quantity. 
He saw that he would again be obliged to experi- 
ment as he had in early youth. He must accumu- 
late information of himself, and meanwhile he re- 
solved to remain close upon his guard lest those 
qualities of which he knew nothing should ever- 
lastingly disgrace him. " Good Lord ! " he re- 
peated in dismay. 

After a time the tall soldier slid dexterously 
through the hole. The loud private followed. 
They were wrangling. 

" That's all right," said the tall soldier as he 
entered. He waved his hand expressively. " You 
can believe me or not, jest as you like. All you 
got to do is to sit down and wait as quiet as you 
can. Then pretty soon you'll find out I was right." 

His comrade grunted stubbornly. For a mo- 
ment he seemed to be searching for a formidable 
reply. Finally he said : " Well, you don't know 
everything in the world, do you?" 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. jjj 

" Didn't say I knew everything in the world," 
retorted the other sharply. He began to stow 
various articles snugly into his knapsack. 

The youth, pausing in his nervous walk, looked 
down at the busy figure. " Going to be a battle, 
sure, is there, Jim ? " he asked. 

" Of course there is," replied the tall soldier. 
" Of course there is. You jest wait 'til to-morrow, 
and you'll see one of the biggest battles ever was. 
You jest wait." 

" Thunder ! " said the youth. 

"Oh, you'll see fighting this time, my boy, 
what'li be regular out-and-out fighting," added 
the tall soldier, with the air of a man who is 
about to exhibit a battle for the benefit of his 
friends. 

" Huh ! " said the loud one from a corner. 

" Well," remarked the youth, " like as not this 
story'll turn out jest like them others did." 

" Not much it won't," replied the tall soldier, 
exasperated. "Not much it won't. Didn't the 
cavalry all start this morning ? " He glared about 
him. No one denied his statement. "The cav- 
alry started this morning," he continued. " They 
say there ain't hardly any cavalry left in camp. 
They're going to Richmond, or some place, while 
we fight all the Johnnies. It's some dodge like 
that. The regiment's got orders, too. A feller 

2 



!6 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

what seen 'em go to headquarters told me a little 
while ago. And they're raising blazes all over 
camp anybody can see that." 

" Shucks ! " said the loud one. 

The youth remained silent for a time. At last 
he spoke to the tall soldier. " Jim ! " 

"What?" 

" How do you think the reg'ment '11 do ? " 

" Oh, they'll fight all right, I guess, after they 
once get into it," said the other with cold judg. 
ment. He made a fine use of the third person. 
" There's been heaps of fun poked at 'em because 
they're new, of course, and all that ; but they'll 
fight all right, I guess." 

" Think any of the boys '11 run ? " persisted the 
youth. 

" Oh, there may be a few of 'em run, but 
there's them kind in every regiment, 'specially 
when they first goes under fire," said the other 
in a tolerant way. " Of course it might happen 
that the hull kit-and-boodle might start and run, 
if some big fighting came first-off, and then again 
they might stay and fight like fun. But you can't 
bet on nothing. Of course they ain't never been 
under fire yet, and it ain't likely they'll lick the 
hull rebel army all-to-oncet the first time ; but I 
think they'll fight better than some, if worse than 
others. That's the way I figger. They call the 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. \>j 

reg'ment * Fresh fish ' and everything ; but the 
boys come of good stock, and most of 'em '11 fight 
like sin after they oncet git shootin'," he added, 
with a mighty emphasis on the last four words. 

"Oh, you think you know " began the loud 

soldier with scorn. 

The other turned savagely upon him. They 
had a rapid altercation, in which they fastened 
upon each other various strange epithets. 

The youth at last interrupted them. "Did 
you ever think you might run yourself, Jim ? " he 
asked. On concluding the sentence he laughed 
as if he had meant to aim a joke. The loud sol- 
dier also giggled. 

The tall private waved his hand. "Well," said 
he profoundly, " I've thought it might get too hot 
for Jim Conklin in some of them scrimmages, and 
if a whole lot of boys started and run, why, I 
s'pose I'd start and run. And if I once started to 
run, I'd run like the devil, and no mistake. But 
if everybody was a-standing and a-fighting, why, 
I'd stand and fight. Be jiminey, I would. I'll 
bet on it." 

" Huh ! " said the loud one. 

The youth of this tale felt gratitude for these 
words of his comrade. He had feared that all of 
the untried men possessed a great an$ correct 
confidence. He now was in a measure reassured. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE next morning the youth discovered that 
his tall comrade had been the fast-flying messen- 
ger of a mistake. There was much scoffing at 
the latter by those who had yesterday been firm 
adherents of his views, and there was even a lit- 
tle sneering by men who had never believed the 
rumor. The tall one fought with a man from 
Chatfield Corners and beat him severely. 

The youth felt, however, that his problem was 
in no wise lifted from him. There was, on the 
contrary, an irritating prolongation. The tale 
had created in him a great concern for himself. 
Now, with the newborn question in his mind, he 
was compelled to sink back into his old place as 
part of a blue demonstration. 

For days he made ceaseless calculations, but 
they were all wondrously unsatisfactory. He 
found that he could establish nothing. He final- 
ly concluded that the only way to prove himself 
was to go into the blaze, and then figuratively to 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. ig 

watch his legs to discover their merits and faults. 
He reluctantly admitted that he could not sit 
still and with a mental slate and pencil derive an 
answer. To gain it, he must have blaze, blood, 
and'danger, even as a chemist requires this, that/ 
and the other. So he fretted for an opportunity. 

Meanwhile he continually tried to measure 
himself by his comrades. The tall soldier, for 
one, gave him some assurance. This man's se- 
rene unconcern dealt him a measure of con- 
fidence, for he had known him since childhood, 
and from his intimate knowledge he did not see 
how he could be capable of anything that was 
beyond him, the youth. Still, he thought that 
his comrade might be mistaken about himself. 
Or, on the other hand, he might be a man here- 
tofore doomed to peace and obscurity, but, in 
reality, made to shine in war. 

The youth would have liked to have discov- 
ered another who suspected himself. A sympa- 
thetic comparison of mental notes would have 
been a joy to him. 

He occasionally tried to fathom a comrade 
with seductive sentences. He looked about to 
find men in the proper mood. All attempts 
failed to bring forth any statement which looked 
In any way like a confession to those doubts 
which he privately acknowledged in himself. 



2Q THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

He was afraid to make an open declaration of 
his concern, because he dreaded to place some 
unscrupulous confidant upon the high plane of 
the unconfessed from which elevation he could 
be derided. 

In regard to his companions his mind wa- 
vered between two opinions, according to his 
mood. Sometimes he inclined to believing them 
all heroes. In fact, he usually admitted in secret 
the superior development of the higher qualities 
in others. He could conceive of men going very 
insignificantly about the world bearing a load of 
courage unseen, and although he had known 
many of his comrades through boyhood, he be- 
gan to fear that his judgment of them had been 
blind. Then, in other moments, he flouted these 
theories, and assured himself that his fellows 
were all privately wondering and quaking. 

His emotions made him feel strange in the 
presence of men who talked excitedly of a pro- 
spective battle as of a drama they were about to 
witness, with nothing but eagerness and curiosity 
apparent in their faces. It was often that he sus- 
pected them to be liars. 

He did not pass such thoughts without severe 
condemnation of himself. He dinned reproaches 
at times. He was convicted by himself of many 
shameful crimes against the gods of traditions. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 2 I 

In his great anxiety his heart was continually 
clamoring at what he considered the intolerable 
slowness of the generals. They seemed content 
to perch tranquilly on the river bank, and leave 
him. bowed down by the weight of a great prob- 
lem. He wanted it settled forthwith. He could 
not long bear such a load, he said. Sometimes 
his anger at the commanders reached an acute 
stage, and he grumbled about the camp like a 
veteran. 

One morning, however, he found himself in 
the ranks of his prepared regiment. The men 
were whispering speculations and recounting the 
old rumors. In the gloom before the break of 
the day their uniforms glowed a deep purple 
hue. From across the river the red eyes were 
still peering. In the eastern sky there was a yel- 
low patch like a rug laid for the feet of the com- 
ing sun ; and against it, black and patternlike, 
loomed the gigantic figure of the colonel on a 
gigantic horse. 

From off in the darkness came the trampling 
of feet. The youth could occasionally see dark 
shadows that moved like monsters. The regi- 
ment stood at rest for what seemed a long time. 
The youth grew impatient. It was unendurable 
the way these affairs were managed. He won- 
dered how long they were to be kept waiting. 



22 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

As he looked all about him and pondered 
upon the mystic gloom, he began to believe that 
at any moment the ominous distance might be 
aflare, and the rolling crashes of an engagement 
come to his ears. Staring once at the red eyes 
across the river, he conceived them to be grow- 
ing larger, as the orbs of a row of dragons ad- 
vancing. He turned toward the colonel and saw 
him lift his gigantic arm and calmly stroke his 
mustache. 

At last he heard from along the road at the 
foot of the hill the clatter of a horse's galloping 
hoofs. It must be the coming of orders. He 
bent forward, scarce breathing. The exciting 
clickety-click, as it grew louder and louder, 
seemed to be beating upon his soul. Presently a 
horseman with jangling equipment drew rein be- 
fore the colonel of the regiment. The two held 
a short, sharp-worded conversation. The men in 
the foremost ranks craned their necks. 

As the horseman wheeled his animal and gal- 
loped away he turned to shout over his shoulder, 
" Don't forget that box of cigars ! " The colonel 
mumbled in reply. The youth wondered what a 
box of cigars had to do with war. 

A moment later the regiment went swinging 
off into the darkness. It was now like one of 
those moving monsters wending with many feet. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 23 

The air was heavy, and cold with dew. A mass 
of wet grass, marched upon, rustled like silk. 

There was an occasional flash and glimmer 
of steel from the backs of all these huge crawl- 
ing 'reptiles. From the road came creakings and 
grumblings as some surly guns were dragged 
away. 

The men stumbled along still muttering specu- 
lations. There was a subdued debate. Once a 
man fell down, and as he reached for his rifle a 
comrade, unseeing, trod upon his hand. He of 
the injured fingers swore bitterly and aloud. A 
low, tittering laugh went among his fellows. 

Presently they passed into a roadway and 
marched forward with easy strides. A dark 
regiment moved before them, and from behind 
also came the tinkle of equipments on the bodies 
of marching men. 

The rushing yellow of the developing day 
went on behind their backs. When the sunrays 
at last struck full and mellowingly upon the 
earth, the youth saw that the landscape was 
streaked with two long, thin, black columns 
which disappeared on the brow of a hill in front 
and rearward vanished in a wood. They were 
like two serpents crawling from the cavern of the 
night. 

The river was not in view. The tall soldier 



24 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

burst into praises of what he thought to be his 
powers of perception. 

Some of the tall one's companions cried with 
emphasis that they, too, had evolved the same 
thing, and they congratulated themselves upon 
it. But there were others who said that the tall 
one's plan was not the true one at all. They per- 
sisted with other theories. There was a vigorous 
discussion. 

The youth took no part in them. As he 
walked along in careless line he was engaged 
with his own eternal debate. He could not hin- 
der himself from dwelling upon it. He was de- 
spondent and sullen, and threw shifting glances 
about him. He looked ahead, often expecting to 
hear from the advance the rattle of firing. 

But the long serpents crawled slowly from 
hill to hill without bluster of smoke. A dun-col- 
ored cloud of dust floated away to the right. 
The sky overhead was of a fairy blue. 

The youth studied the faces of his compan- 
ions, ever on the watch to detect kindred emo- 
tions. He suffered disappointment. Some ardor 
of the air which was causing the veteran com- 
mands to move with glee almost with song 
had infected the new regiment. The men began 
to speak of victory as of a thing they knew. 
Also, the tall soldier received his vindication. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 25 

They were certainly going to come around in 
behind the enemy. They expressed commisera- 
tion for that part of the army which had been 
left upon the river bank, felicitating themselves 
upon being a part of a blasting host. 

The youth, considering himself as separated 
from the others, was saddened by the blithe and 
merry speeches that went from rank to rank. 
The company wags all made their best endeav- 
ors. The regiment tramped to the tune of 
laughter. 

The blatant soldier often convulsed whole 
files by his biting sarcasms aimed at the tall one. 

And it was not long before all the men seemed 
to forget their mission. Whole brigades grinned 
in unison, and regiments laughed. 

A rather fat soldier attempted to pilfer a horse 
from a dooryard. He planned to load his knap- 
sack upon it. He was escaping with his prize 
when a young girl rushed from the house and 
grabbed the animal's mane. There followed a 
wrangle. The young girl, with pink cheeks and 
shining eyes, stood like a dauntless statue. 

The observant regiment, standing at rest in 
the roadway, whooped at once, and entered 
whole-souled upon the side of the maiden. The 
men became so engrossed in this affair that they 
entirely ceased to remember their own large war. 



26 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

They jeered the piratical private, and called 
attention to various defects in his personal ap- 
pearance ; and they were wildly enthusiastic in 
support of the young girl. 

To her, from some distance, came bold advice. 
" Hit him with a stick." 

There were crows and catcalls showered 
upon him when he retreated without the horse. 
The regiment rejoiced at his downfall. Loud 
and vociferous congratulations were showered 
upon the maiden, who stood panting and regard- 
ing the troops with defiance. 

At nightfall the column broke into regimental 
pieces, and the fragments went into the fields to 
camp. Tents sprang up like strange plants. 
Camp fires, like red, peculiar blossoms, dotted 
the night. 

The youth kept from intercourse with his 
companions as much as circumstances would 
allow him. In the evening he wandered a few 
paces into the gloom. From this little distance 
the many fires, with the black forms of men pass- 
ing to and fro before the crimson rays, made 
weird and satanic effects. 

He lay down in the grass. The blades 
pressed tenderly against his cheek. The moon 
had been lighted and was hung in a treetop. 
The liquid stillness of the night enveloping him 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 2 / 

made him feel vast pity for himself. There was 
a caress in the soft winds ; and the whole mood 
of the darkness, he thought, was one of sympathy 
for himself in his distress. 

fie wished, without reserve, that he was at 
home again making the endless rounds from the 
house to the barn, from the barn to the fields, 
from the fields to the barn, from the barn to the 
house. He remembered he had often cursed the 
brindle cow and her mates, and had sometimes 
flung milking stools. But, from his present point 
of view, there was a halo of happiness about each 
of their heads, and he would have sacrificed all 
the brass buttons on the continent to have been 
enabled to return to them. He told himself that 
he was not formed for a soldier. And he mused 
seriously upon the radical differences between 
himself and those men who were dodging imp- 
like around the fires. 

As he mused thus he heard the rustle of grass, 
and, upon turning his head, discovered the loud 
soldier. He called out, " Oh, Wilson ! " 

The latter approached and looked down. 
"Why, hello, Henry; is it you? What you do- 
ing here ? " 

" Oh, thinking," said the youth. 

The other sat down and carefully lighted his 
pipe. " You're getting blue, my boy. You're 



28 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

looking thundering peeked. What the dickens 
is wrong with you? " 

" Oh, nothing," said the youth. 

The loud soldier launched then into the sub- 
ject of the anticipated fight. " Oh, we've got 
'em now ! " As he spoke his boyish face was 
wreathed in a gleeful smile, and his voice had 
an exultant ring. " We've got 'em now. At 
last, by the eternal thunders, we'll lick 'em 
good!" 

" If the truth was known," he added, more 
soberly, " they've licked us about every clip up to 
now ; but this time this time we'll lick 'em 
good ! " 

" I thought you was objecting to this march 
a little while ago," said the youth coldly. 

" Oh, it wasn't that," explained the other. " I 
don't mind marching, if there's going to be fight- 
ing at the end of it. What I hate is this getting 
.moved here and moved there, with no good com- 
ing of it, as far as I can see, excepting sore feet 
and damned short rations." 

" Well, Jim Conklin says we'll get a plenty of 
fighting this time." 

" He's right for once, I guess, though I can't 
see how it come. This time we're in for a big 
battle, and we've got the best end of it, certain 
sure. Gee rod ! how we will thump 'em ! " 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



2 9 



He arose and began to pace to and fro excit- 
edly. The thrill of his enthusiasm made him 
walk with an elastic step. He was sprightly, 
vigorous, fiery in his belief in success. He 
looked into the future with clear, proud eye, and 
he swore with the air of an old soldier. 

The youth watched him for a moment in 
silence. When he finally spoke his voice was as 
bitter as dregs. " Oh, you're going to do great 
things, I s'pose ! " 

The loud soldier blew a thoughtful cloud of 
smoke from his pipe. " Oh, I don't know," he 
remarked with dignity ; " I don't know. I s'pose 
I'll do as well as the rest. I'm going to try like 
thunder." He evidently complimented himself 
upon the modesty of this statement. 

" How do you know you won't run when the 
time comes? " asked the youth. 

" Run ? " said the loud one ; " run ? of course 
not ! " He laughed. 

" Well," continued the youth, " lots of good- 
a-'nough men have thought they was going to do 
great things before the fight, but when the time 
come they skedaddled." 

"Oh, that's all true, I s'pose," replied the 
other; "but I'm not going to skedaddle. The 
man that bets on my running will lose his money, 
that's all." He nodded confidently. 



30 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

"Oh, shucks!" said the youth. "You ain't 
the bravest man in the world, are you ? " 

" No, I ain't," exclaimed the loud soldier in- 
dignantly; "and I didn't say I was the bravest 
man in the world, neither. I said I was going to 
do my share of fighting that's what I said. And 
I am, too. Who are you, anyhow ? You talk as 
if you thought you was Napoleon Bonaparte." 
He glared at the youth for a moment, and then 
strode away. 

The youth called in a savage voice after his 
comrade : " Well, you needn't git mad about it ! " 
But the other continued on his way and made no 
reply. 

He felt alone in space when his injured com- 
rade had disappeared. His failure to discover 
any mite of resemblance in their view points 
made him more miserable than before. No one 
seemed to be wrestling with such a terrific per- 
sonal problem. He was a mental outcast. 

He went slowly to his tent and stretched him- 
self on a blanket by the side of the snoring tall 
soldier. In the darkness he saw visions of a thou- 
sand-tongued fear that would babble at his back 
and cause him to flee, while others were going 
coolly about their country's business. He admit- 
ted that he would not be able to cope with this 
monster. He felt that every nerve in his body 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 31 

would be an ear to hear the voices, while other 
men would remain stolid and deaf. 

And as he sweated with the pain of these 
thoughts, he could hear low, serene sentences. 
" I'll* bid five." " Make it six." " Seven." 
" Seven goes." 

He stared at the red, shivering reflection of 
a fire on the white wall of his tent until, ex- 
hausted and ill from the monotony of his suf- 
fering, he fell asleep. 



CHAPTER III. 

WHEN another night came the columns, 
changed to purple streaks, filed across two pon- 
toon bridges. A glaring fire wine-tinted the 
waters of the river. Its rays, shining upon the 
moving masses of troops, brought forth here and 
there sudden gleams of silver or gold. Upon 
the other shore a dark and mysterious range of 
hills was curved against the sky. The insect 
voices of the night sang solemnly. 

After this crossing the youth assured himself 
that at any moment they might be suddenly and 
fearfully assaulted from the caves of the lowering 
woods. He kept his eyes watchfully upon the 
darkness. 

But his regiment went unmolested to a camp- 
ing place, and its soldiers slept the brave sleep 
of wearied men. In the morning they were 
routed out with early energy, and hustled along 
a narrow road that led deep into the forest. 

It was during this rapid march that the regi- 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 33 

ment lost many of the marks of a new com- 
mand. 

The men had begun to count the miles upon 
their fingers, and they grew tired. " Sore feet 
an* damned short rations, that's all," said the 
loud soldier. There was perspiration and grum- 
blings. After a time they began to shed their 
knapsacks. Some tossed them unconcernedly 
down ; others hid them carefully, asserting their 
plans to return for them at some convenient 
time. Men extricated themselves from thick 
shirts. Presently few carried anything but their 
necessary clothing, blankets, haversacks, canteens, 
and arms and ammunition. " You can now eat 
and shoot," said the tall soldier to the youth. 
" That's all you want to do." 

There was sudden change from the ponderous 
infantry of theory to the light and speedy infantry 
of practice. The regiment, relieved of a burden, 
received a new impetus. But there was much 
loss of valuable knapsacks, and, on the whole, 
very good shirts. 

But the regiment was not yet veteranlike in 
appearance. Veteran regiments in the army 
were likely to be very small aggregations of men. 
Once, when the command had first come to the 
field, some perambulating veterans, noting the 
length of their column, had accosted them thus : 



34 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



" Hey, fellers, what brigade is that ? " And when 
the men had replied that they formed a regiment 
and not a brigade, the older soldiers had laughed, 
and said, " O Gawd ! " 

Also, there was too great a similarity in the 
hats. The hats of a regiment should properly 
represent the history of headgear for a period of 
years. And, moreover, there were no letters of 
faded gold speaking from the colors. They were 
new and beautiful, and the color bearer habitu- 
ally oiled the pole. 

Presently the army again sat down to think. 
The odor of the peaceful pines was in the men's 
nostrils. The sound of monotonous axe blows 
rang through the forest, and the insects, nodding 
upon their perches, crooned like old women. 
The youth returned to his theory of a blue dem- 
onstration. 

One gray dawn, however, he was kicked in 
the leg by the tall soldier, and then, before he 
was entirely awake, he found himself running 
down a wood road in the midst of men who were 
panting from the first effects of speed. His can- 
teen banged rhythmically upon his thigh, and his 
haversack bobbed softly. His musket bounced 
a trifle from his shoulder at each stride and made 
his cap feel uncertain upon his head. 

He could hear the men whisper jerky sen- 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 35 

tences: "Say what's all this about?" "What 
th' thunder we skedaddlin' this way fer?" 
" Billie keep off m' feet. Yeh run like a cow." 
And the loud soldier's shrill voice could be 
heard : " What th' devil they in sich a hurry for ? " 

The youth thought the damp fog of early 
morning moved from the rush of a great body 
of troops. From the distance came a sudden 
spatter of firing. 

He was bewildered. As he ran with his com- 
rades he strenuously tried to think, but all he knew 
was that if he fell down those coming behind 
would tread upon him. All his faculties seemed 
to be needed to guide him over and past obstruc- 
tions. He felt carried along by a mob. 

The sun spread disclosing rays, and, one by 
one, regiments burst into view like armed men 
just born of the earth. The youth perceived 
that the time had come. He was about to be 
measured. For a moment he felt in the face of 
his great trial like a babe, and the flesh over 
his heart seemed very thin. He seized time to 
look about him calculatingly. 

But he instantly saw that it would be impossi- 
ble for him to escape from the regiment. It in- 
closed him. And there were iron laws of tradi- 
tion and law on four sides. He was in a moving 
box. 



36 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

As he perceived this fact it occurred to him 
that he had never wished to come to the war. 
He had not enlisted of his free will. He had 
been dragged by the merciless government. And 
now they were taking him out to be slaughtered. 

The regiment slid down a bank and wallowed 
across a little stream. The mournful current 
moved slowly on, and from the water, shaded 
black, some white bubble eyes looked at the men. 

As they climbed the hill on the farther side 
artillery began to boom. Here the youth forgot 
many things as he felt a sudden impulse of curi- 
osity. He scrambled up the bank with a speed 
that could not be exceeded by a bloodthirsty 
man. 

He expected a battle scene. 

There were some little fields girted and 
squeezed by a forest. Spread over the grass and 
in among the tree trunks, he could see knots and 
waving lines of skirmishers who were running 
hither and thither and firing at the landscape. 
A dark battle line lay upon a sunstruck clearing 
that gleamed orange color. A flag fluttered. 

Other regiments floundered up the bank. The 
brigade was formed in line of battle, and after a 
pause started slowly through the woods in the 
rear of the receding skirmishers, who were con- 
tinually melting into the scene to appear again 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



37 



farther on. They were always busy as bees, 
deeply absorbed in their little combats. 

The youth tried to observe everything. He 
did not use care to avoid trees and branches, 
and his forgotten feet were constantly knocking 
against stones or getting entangled in briers. 
He was aware that these battalions with their 
commotions were woven red and startling into 
the gentle fabric of softened greens and browns. 
It looked to be a wrong place for a battle field. 

The skirmishers in advance fascinated him. 
Their shots into thickets and at distant and 
prominent trees spoke to him of tragedies hid- 
den, mysterious, solemn. 

Once the line encountered the body of a dead 
soldier. He lay upon his back staring at the sky. 
He was dressed in an awkward suit of yellowish 
brown. The youth could see that the soles of his 
shoes had been worn to the thinness of writing 
paper, and from a great rent in one the dead foot 
projected piteously. And it was as if fate had 
betrayed the soldier. In death it exposed to his 
enemies that poverty which in life he had perhaps 
concealed from his friends. 

The ranks opened covertly to avoid the corpse. 
The invulnerable dead man forced a way for him- 
self. The youth looked keenly at the ashen face. 
The wind raised the tawny beard. It moved as 



38 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

if a hand were stroking it. He vaguely desired 
to walk around and around the body and stare ; 
the impulse of the living to try to read in dead 
eyes the answer to the Question. 

During the march the ardor which the youth 
had acquired when out of view of the field rapidly 
faded to nothing. His curiosity was quite easily 
satisfied. If an intense scene had caught him with 
its wild swing as he carne to the top of the bank, 
he might have gone roaring on. This advance 
upon Nature was too calm. He had opportunity 
to reflect. He had time in which to wonder 
about himself and to attempt to probe his sensa- 
tions. 

Absurd ideas took hold upon him. He 
thought that he did not relish the landscape. 
It threatened him. A coldness swept over his 
back, and it is true that his trousers felt to him 
that they were no fit for his legs at all. 

A house standing placidly in distant fields 
had to him an ominous look. The shadows of 
the woods were formidable. He was certain that 
in this vista there lurked fierce-eyed hosts. The 
swift thought came to him that the generals did 
not know what they were about. It was all a 
trap. Suddenly those close forests would bristle 
with rifle barrels. Ironlike brigades would ap- 
pear in the rear. They were all going to be 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 39 

sacrificed. The generals were stupids. The 
enemy would presently swallow the whole com- 
mand. He glared about him, expecting to see 
the stealthy approach of his death. 

He thought that he must break from the ranks 
and harangue his comrades. They must not all 
be killed like pigs ; and he was sure it would 
come to pass unless they were informed of these 
dangers. The generals were idiots to send them 
marching into a regular pen. There was but one 
pair of eyes in the corps. He would step forth 
and make a speech. Shrill and passionate words 
came to his lips. 

The line, broken into moving fragments by the 
ground, went calmly on through fields and woods. 
The youth looked at the men nearest him, and 
saw, for the most part, expressions of deep inter- 
est, as if they were investigating something that 
had fascinated them. One or two stepped with 
overvaliant airs as if they were already plunged 
into war. Others walked as upon thin ice. The 
greater part of the untested men appeared quiet" 
and absorbed. They were going to look at war, 
the red animal war, the blood-swollen god. And 
they were deeply engrossed in this march. 

As he looked the youth gripped his outcry at 
his throat. He saw that even if the men were 
tottering with fear they would laugh at his warn- 



40 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

ing. They would jeer him, and, if practicable, 
pelt him with missiles. Admitting that he might 
be wrong, a frenzied declamation of the kind 
would turn him into a worm. 

He assumed, then, the demeanor of one who 
knows that he is doomed alone to unwritten re- 
sponsibilities. He lagged, with tragic glances at 
the sky. 

He was surprised presently by the young lieu- 
tenant of his company, who began heartily to 
beat him with a sword, calling out in a loud and 
insolent voice : " Come, young man, get up into 
ranks there. No skulking '11 do here." He mend- 
ed his pace with suitable haste. And he hated 
the lieutenant, who had no appreciation of fine 
minds. He was a mere brute. 

After a time the brigade was halted in the 
cathedral light of a forest. The busy skirmish 
ers were still popping. Through the aisles of 
the wood could be seen the floating smoke from 
their rifles. Sometimes it went up in little balls, 
white and compact. 

During this halt many men in the regiment 
began erecting tiny hills in front of them. They 
used stones, sticks, earth, and anything they 
thought might turn a bullet. Some built com- 
paratively large ones, while others seemed con- 
tent with little ones. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 41 

This procedure caused a discussion among- the 
men. Some wished to fight like duelists, believ- 
ing it to be correct to stand erect and be, from 
their feet to their foreheads, a mark. They said 
they scorned the devices of the cautious. But 
the others scoffed in reply, and pointed to the 
veterans on the flanks who were digging at the 
ground like terriers. In a short time there was 
quite a barricade along the regimental fronts. 
Directly, however, they were ordered to with- 
draw from that place. 

This astounded the youth. He forgot his 
stewing over the advance movement. " Well, 
then, what did they march us out here for?" he 
demanded of the tall soldier. The latter with 
calm faith began a heavy explanation, although 
he had been compelled to leave a little protection 
of stones and dirt to which he had devoted much 
care and skill. 

When the regiment was aligned in another 
position each man's regard for his safety caused 
another line of small intrenchments. They ate 
their noon meal behind a third one. They were 
moved from this one also. They were marched 
from place to place with apparent aimlessness. 

The youth had been taught that a man be- 
came another thing in a battle. He saw his sal- 
vation in such a change. Hence this waiting 



42 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

was an ordeal to him. He was in a fever of im- 
patience. He considered that there was denoted 
a lack of purpose on the part of the generals. 
He began to complain to the tall soldier. " I 
can't stand this much longer," he cried. " I 
don't see what good it does to make us wear 
out our legs for nothin'." He wished to return 
to camp, knowing that this affair was a blue 
demonstration; or else to go into a battle and 
discover that he had been a fool in his doubts, 
and was, in truth, a man of traditional courage. 
The strain of present circumstances he felt to be 
intolerable. 

The philosophical tall soldier measured a sand- 
wich of cracker and pork and swallowed it in a 
nonchalant manner. " Oh, I suppose we must go 
reconnoitering around the country jest to keep 
'em from getting too close, or to develop 'em, or 
something." 

" Huh ! " said the loud soldier. 

" Well," cried the youth, still fidgeting, " I'd 
rather do anything 'most than go tramping 'round 
the country all day doing no good to nobody and 
jest tiring ourselves out." 

" So would I," said the loud soldier. " It ain't 
right. I tell you if anybody with any sense was 
a-runnin' this army it 

" Oh, shut up ! " roared the tall private. " You 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 43 

little fool. You little damn' cuss. You ain't had 
that there coat and them pants on for six months, 
and yet you talk as if " 

" Well, I wanta do some fighting anyway," 
interrupted the other. " I didn't come here to 
walk. I could 'ave walked to home 'round an' 
'round the barn, if I jest wanted to walk." 

The tall one, red-faced, swallowed another 
sandwich as if taking poison in despair. 

But gradually, as he chewed, his face became 
again quiet and contented. He could not rage 
in fierce argument in the presence of such sand- 
wiches. During his meals he always wore an air 
of blissful contemplation of the food he had swal- 
lowed. His spirit seemed then to be communing 
with the viands. 

He accepted new environment and circum- 
stance with great coolness, eating from his haver- 
sack at every opportunity. On the march he 
went along with the stride of a hunter, object- 
ing to neither gait nor distance. And he had 
not raised his voice when he had been ordered 
away from three little protective piles of earth 
and stone, each of which had been an engineer- 
ing feat worthy of being made sacred to the name 
of his grandmother. 

In the afternoon the regiment went out over 
the same ground it had taken in the morn- 



44 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

ing. The landscape then ceased to threaten the 
youth. He had been close to it and become 
familiar with it. 

When, however, they began to pass into a 
new region, his old fears of stupidity and in- 
competence reassailed him, but this time he dog- 
gedly let them babble. He was occupied with 
his problem, and in his desperation he concluded 
that the stupidity did not greatly matter. 

Once he thought he had concluded that it 
would be better to get killed directly and end 
his troubles. Regarding death thus out of the 
corner of his eye, he conceived it to be noth- 
ing but rest, and he was filled with a momen- 
tary astonishment that he should have made an 
extraordinary commotion over the mere matter 
of getting killed. He would die ; he would go 
to some place where he would be understood. 
It was useless to expect appreciation of his pro- 
found and fine senses from such men as the lieu- 
tenant. He must look to the grave for compre- 
hension. 

The skirmish fire increased to a long clatter- 
ing sound. With it was mingled far-away cheer- 
ing. A battery spoke. 

Directly the youth would see the skirmishers 
running. They were pursued by the sound of 
musketry fire. After a time the hot, dangerous 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



45 



flashes of the rifles were visible. Smoke clouds 
went slowly and insolently across the fields like 
observant phantoms. The din became crescendo, 
like the roar of an oncoming train. 

A brigade ahead of them and on the right 
went into action with a rending roar. It was 
as if it had exploded. And thereafter it lay 
stretched in the distance behind a long gray wall, 
that one was obliged to look twice at to make 
sure that it was smoke. 

The youth, forgetting his neat plan of getting 
killed, gazed spell bound. His eyes grew wide 
and busy with the action of the scene. His 
mouth was a little ways open. 

Of a sudden he felt a heavy and sad hand laid 
upon his shoulder. Awakening from his trance 
of observation he turned and beheld the loud 
soldier. 

" It's my first and last battle, old boy," said 
the latter, with intense gloom. He was quite 
pale and his girlish lip was trembling. 

" Eh ? " murmured the youth in great aston- 
ishment. 

" It's my first and last battle, old boy," 
continued the loud soldier. "Something tells 
me " 

"What?" 

"I'm a gone coon this first time and and I 



46 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

w-want you to take these here things to my 
folks." He ended in a quavering sob of pity for 
himself. He handed the youth a little packet 
done up in a yellow envelope. 

" Why, what the devil " began the youth 

again. 

But the other gave him a glance as from the 
depths of a tomb, and raised his limp hand in a 
prophetic manner and turned away. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE brigade was halted in the fringe of a 
grove. The men crouched among the trees and 
pointed their restless guns out at the fields. 
They tried to look beyond the smoke. 

Out of this haze they could see running men. 
Some shouted information and gestured as they 
hurried. 

The men of the new regiment watched and 
listened eagerly, while their tongues ran on in 
gossip of the battle. They mouthed rumors that 
had flown like birds out of the unknown. 

" They say Perry has been driven in with big 
loss." 

" Yes, Carrott went t' th' hospital. He said he 
was sick. That smart lieutenant is commanding 
'G' Company. Th' boys say they won't be 
under Carrott no more if they all have t' desert. 
They allus knew he was a- " 

" Hannises' batt'ry is took." 

" It ain't either. I saw Hannises' batt'ry off on 
th' left not more'n fifteen minutes ago." 

4 



48 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

" Well " 

" Th' general, he ses he is goin' t' take th' hull 
cammand of th' 3O4th when we go inteh action, 
an' then he ses we'll do sech fightin' as never 
another one reg'ment done." 

" They say we're catchin' it over on th' left. 
They say th' enemy driv' our line inteh a devil of 
a swamp an' took Hannises' batt'ry." 

" No sech thing. Hannises' batt'ry was 'long 
here 'bout a minute ago." 

" That young Hasbrouck, he makes a good 
off'cer. He ain't afraid 'a nothin'." 

" I met one of th' I48th Maine boys an' he ses 
his brigade fit th' hull rebel army fer four hours 
over on th' turnpike road an' killed about five 
thousand of 'em. He ses one more sech fight as 
that an' th' war '11 be over." 

" Bill wasn't scared either. No, sir ! It wasn't 
that. Bill ain't a-gittin' scared easy. He was 
jest mad, that's what he was. When that feller 
trod on his hand, he up an' sed that he was willin' 
t* give his hand t' his country, but he be dumbed 
if he was goin' t' have every dumb bushwhacker 
in th' kentry walkin' 'round on it. Se he went t' 
th' hospital disregardless of th' fight. Three 
fingers was crunched. Th' dern doctor wanted 
t' amputate 'm, an' Bill, he raised a heluva row, I 
hear. He's a funny feller." 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 49 

The din in front swelled to a tremendous 
chorus. The youth and his fellows were frozen 
to silence. They could see a flag that tossed in 
the smoke angrily. Near it were the blurred and 
agitated forms of troops. There came a turbulent 
stream of men across the fields. A battery chang- 
ing position at a frantic gallop scattered the 
stragglers right and left. 

A shell screaming like a storm banshee went 
over the huddled heads of the reserves. It landed 
in the grove, and exploding redly flung the brown 
earth. There was a little shower of pine needles. 

Bullets began to whistle among the branches 
and nip at the trees. Twigs and leaves came 
sailing down. It was as if a thousand axes, wee 
and invisible, were being wielded. Many of the 
men were constantly dodging and ducking their 
heads. 

The lieutenant of the youth's company was 
shot in the hand. He began to swear so won- 
drously that a nervous laugh went along the regi- 
mental line. The officer's profanity sounded 
.conventional. It relieved the tightened senses of 
the new men. It was as if he had hit his fingers 
with a tack hammer at home. 

He held the wounded member carefully away 
from his side so that the blood would not drip 
upon his trousers. 



go THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

The captain of the company, tucking his sword 
under his arm, produced a handkerchief and 
began to bind with it the lieutenant's wound. 
And they disputed as to how the binding should 
be done. 

The battle flag in the distance jerked about 
madly. It seemed to be struggling to free itself 
from an agony. The billowing smoke was filled 
with horizontal flashes. 

Men running swiftly emerged from it. They 
grew in numbers until it was seen that the whole 
command was fleeing. The flag suddenly sank 
down as if dying. Its motion as it fell was a 
gesture of despair. 

Wild yells came from behind the walls of 
smoke. A sketch in gray and red dissolved into 
a moblike body of men who galloped like wild 
horses. 

The veteran regiments on the right and left of 
the 3O4th immediately began to jeer. With the 
passionate song of the bullets and the banshee 
shrieks of shells were mingled loud catcalls and 
bits of facetious advice concerning places of safety. 

But the new regiment was breathless with hor- 
ror. " Gawd ! Saunders's got crushed ! " whis- 
pered the man at the youth's elbow. They 
shrank back and crouched as if compelled to 
await a flood. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. $j 

The youth shot a swift glance along the blue 
ranks of the regiment. The profiles were motion- 
less, carven ; and afterward he remembered that 
the color sergeant was standing with his legs 
apart, as if he expected to be pushed to the 
ground. 

The following throng went whirling around 
the flank. Here and there were officers carried 
along on the stream like exasperated chips. They 
were striking about them with their swords 
and with their left fists, punching every head 
they could reach. They cursed like highway- 
men. 

A mounted officer displayed the furious anger 
of a spoiled child. He raged with his head, his 
arms, and his legs. 

Another, the commander of the brigade, was 
galloping about bawling. His hat was gone and 
his clothes were awry. He resembled a man 
who has come from bed to go to a fire. The 
hoofs of his horse often threatened the heads of 
the running men, but they scampered with sin- 
gular fortune. In this rush they were apparently 
all deaf and blind. They heeded not the largest 
and longest of the oaths that were thrown at 
them from all directions. 

Frequently over this tumult could be heard 
the grim jokes of the critical veterans ; but the 



52 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

retreating men apparently were not even con- 
scious of the presence of an audience. 

The battle reflection that shone for an instant 
in the faces on the mad current made the youth 
feel that forceful hands from heaven would not 
have been able to have held him in place if he 
could have got intelligent control of his legs. 

There was an appalling imprint upon these 
faces. The struggle in the smoke had pictured 
an exaggeration of itself on the bleached cheeks 
and in the eyes wild with one desire. 

The sight of this stampede exerted a floodlike 
force that seemed able to drag sticks and stones 
and men from the ground. They of the reserves 
had to hold on. They grew pale and firm, and 
red and quaking. 

The youth achieved one little thought in the 
midst of this chaos. The composite monster 
which had caused the other troops to flee had 
not then appeared. He resolved to get a view 
of it, and then, he thought he might very likely 
run better than the best of them. 



CHAPTER V. 

THERE were moments of waiting. The youth 
thought of the village street at home before the 
arrival of the circus parade on a day in the 
spring. He remembered how he had stood, a 
small, thrillful boy, prepared to follow the dingy 
lady upon the white horse, or the band in its 
faded chariot. He saw the yellow road, the 
lines of expectant people, and the sober houses. 
He particularly remembered an old fellow who 
used to sit upon a cracker box in front of the 
store and feign to despise such exhibitions. A 
thousand details of color and form surged in his 
mind. The old fellow upon the cracker box ap- 
peared in middle prominence. 

Some one cried, " Here they come ! " 
There was rustling and muttering among the 
men. They displayed a feverish desire to have 
every possible cartridge ready to their hands. 
The boxes were pulled around into various posi- 
tions, and adjusted with great care. It was as if 
seven hundred new bonnets were being tried on. 



54 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

The tall soldier, having prepared his rifle, pro- 
duced a red handkerchief of some kind. He was 
engaged in knitting it about his throat with ex- 
quisite attention to its position, when the cry was 
repeated up and down the line in a muffled roar 
of sound. 

" Here they come ! Here they come ! " Gun 
locks clicked. 

Across the smoke-infested fields came a brown 
swarm of running men who were giving shrill 
yells. They came on, stooping and swinging 
their rifles at all angles. A flag, tilted forward, 
sped near the front. 

As he caught sight of them the youth was 
momentarily startled by a thought that perhaps 
his gun was not loaded. He stood trying to 
rally his faltering intellect so that he might rec- 
ollect the moment when he had loaded, but he 
could not. 

A hatless general pulled his dripping horse to 
a stand near the colonel of the 3O4th. He shook 
his fist in the other's face. " You 've got to hold 
'em back ! " he shouted, savagely ; " you Ve got 
to hold 'em back!" 

In his agitation the colonel began to stammer. 
" A-all r-right, General, all right, by Gawd ! We- 
we '11 do our we-we '11 d-d-do do our best, Gen- 
eral." The general made a passionate gesture 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 55 

and galloped away. The colonel, perchance to 
relieve his feelings, began to scold like a wet 
parrot. The youth, turning swiftly to make 
sure that the rear was unmolested, saw the com- 
mander regarding his men in a highly resentful 
manner, as if he regretted above everything his 
association with them. 

The man at the youth's elbow was mumbling, 
as if to himself : " Oh, we 're in for it now ! oh, 
we 're in for it now ! " 

The captain of the company had been pacing 
excitedly to and fro in the rear. He coaxed in 
schoolmistress fashion, as to a congregation of 
boys with primers. His talk was an endless 
repetition. "Reserve your fire, boys don't 
shoot till I tell you save your fire wait till 
they get close up don't be damned fools " 

Perspiration streamed down the youth's face, 
which was soiled like that of a weeping urchin. 
He frequently, with a nervous movement, wiped 
his eyes with his coat sleeve. His mouth was 
still a little way open. 

He got the one glance at the foe-swarming 
field in front of him, and instantly ceased to de- 
bate the question of his piece being loaded. Be- 
fore he was ready to begin before he had an- 
nounced to himself that he was about to fight 
he threw the obedient, well-balanced rifle into 



56 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

position and fired a first wild shot. Directly he 
was working at his weapon like an automatic 
affair. 

He suddenly lost concern for himself, and for- 
got to look at a menacing fate. He became not a 
man but a member. He felt that something of 
which he was a part a regiment, an army, a 
cause, or a country was in a crisis. He was 
welded into a common personality which was 
dominated by a single desire. For some mo- 
ments he could not flee no more than a little 
finger can commit a revolution from a hand. 

If he had thought the regiment was about to 
be annihilated perhaps he could have amputated 
himself from it. But its noise gave him assur- 
ance. The regiment was like a firework that, 
once ignited, proceeds superior to circumstances 
until its blazing vitality fades. It wheezed and 
banged with a mighty power. He pictured the 
ground before it as strewn with the discom- 
fited. 

There was a consciousness always of the pres- 
ence of his comrades about him. He felt the 
subtle battle brotherhood more potent even than 
the cause for which they were fighting. It was a 
mysterious fraternity born of the smoke and dan- 
ger of death. 

He was at a task. He was like a carpenter 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 57 

who has made many boxes, making still another 
box, only there was furious haste in his move- 
ments. He, in his thought, was careering off in 
other places, even as the carpenter who as he 
works whistles and thinks of his friend or his 
enemy, his home or a saloon. And these jolted 
dreams were never perfect to him afterward, but 
remained a mass of blurred shapes. 

Presently he began to feel the effects of the 
war atmosphere a blistering sweat, a sensation 
that his eyeballs were about to crack like hot 
stones. A burning roar filled his ears. 

Following this came a red rage. He devel- 
oped the acute exasperation of a pestered animal, 
a well-meaning cow worried by dogs. He had a 
mad feeling against his rifle, which could only be 
used against one life at a time. He wished to 
rush forward and strangle with his fingers. He 
craved a power that would enable him to make a 
world-sweeping gesture and brush all back. His 
impotency appeared to him, and made his rage 
into that of a driven beast. 

Buried in the smoke of many rifles his anger 
was directed not so much against the men whom 
he knew were rushing toward him as against the 
swirling battle phantoms which were choking 
him, stuffing their smoke robes down his parched 
throat. He fought frantically for respite for his 



58 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

senses, for air, as a babe being smothered attacks 
the deadly blankets. 

There was a blare of heated rage mingled with 
a certain expression of intentness on all faces. 
Many of the men were making low-toned noises 
with their mouths, and these subdued cheers, 
snarls, imprecations, prayers, made a wild, bar- 
baric song that went as an undercurrent of sound, 
strange and chantlike with the resounding chords 
of the war march. The man at the youth's elbow 
was babbling. In it there was something soft and 
tender like the monologue of a babe. The tall 
soldier was swearing in a loud voice. From his 
lips came a black procession of curious oaths. Of 
a sudden another broke out in a querulous way 
like a man who has mislaid his hat. " Well, why 
don't they support us ? Why don't they send 
supports ? Do they think " 

The youth in his battle sleep heard this as one 
who dozes hears. 

There was a singular absence of heroic poses. 
The men bending and surging in their haste and 
rage were in every impossible attitude. The steel 
ramrods clanked and clanged with incessant din 
as the men pounded them furiously into the hot 
rifle barrels. The flaps of the cartridge boxes were 
all unfastened, and bobbed idiotically with each 
movement. The rifles, once loaded, were jerked 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



59 



to the shoulder and fired without apparent aim 
into the smoke or at one of the blurred and shift- 
ing forms which upon the field before the regi- 
ment had been growing larger and larger like 
puppets under a magician's hand. 

The officers, at their intervals, rearward, neg- 
lected to stand in picturesque attitudes. They 
were bobbing to and fro roaring directions and 
encouragements. The dimensions of their howls 
were extraordinary. They expended their lungs 
with prodigal wills. And often they nearly stood 
upon their heads in their anxiety to observe the 
enemy on the other side of the tumbling smoke. 

The lieutenant of the youth's company had en- 
countered a soldier who had fled screaming at 
the first volley of his comrades. Behind the lines 
these two were acting a little isolated scene. The 
man was blubbering and staring with sheeplike 
eyes at the lieutenant, who had seized him by the 
collar and was pommeling him. He drove him 
back into the ranks with many blows. The sol- 
dier went mechanically, dully, with his animal- 
like eyes upon the officer. Perhaps there was to 
him a divinity expressed in the voice of the other 
stern, hard, with no reflection of fear in it. He 
tried to reload his gun, but his shaking hands pre- 
vented. The lieutenant was obliged to assist him. 

The men dropped here and there like bundles. 



60 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

The captain of the youth's company had been 
killed in an early part of the action. His body 
lay stretched out in the position of a tired man 
resting, but upon his face there was an astonished 
and sorrowful look, as if he thought some friend 
had done him an ill turn. The babbling man was 
grazed by a shot that made the blood stream 
widely down his face. He clapped both hands 
to his head. " Oh ! " he said, and ran. Another 
grunted suddenly as if he had been struck by a 
club in the stomach. He sat down and gazed 
ruefully. In his eyes there was mute, indefinite 
reproach. Farther up the line a man, standing 
behind a tree, had had his knee joint splintered 
by a ball. Immediately he had dropped his rifle 
and gripped the tree with both arms. And there 
he remained, clinging desperately and crying for 
assistance that he might withdraw his hold upon 
the tree. 

At last an exultant yell went along the quiver- 
ing line. The firing dwindled from an uproar to 
a last vindictive popping. As the smoke slowly 
eddied away, the youth saw that the charge had 
been repulsed. The enemy were scattered into 
reluctant groups. He saw a man climb to the 
top of the fence, straddle the rail, and fire a part- 
ing shot. The waves had receded, leaving bits of 
dark debris upon the ground. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 6l 

Some in the regiment began to whoop fren- 
ziedly. Many were silent. Apparently they were 
trying to contemplate themselves. 

After the fever had left his veins, the youth 
thought that at last he was going to suffocate. 
He became aware of the foul atmosphere in 
which he had been struggling. He was grimy 
and dripping like a laborer in a foundry. He 
grasped his canteen and took a long swallow of 
the warmed water. 

A sentence with variations went up and down 
the line. " Well, we 've helt 'em back. We 've 
helt 'em back ; derned if we haven't." The men 
said it blissfully, leering at each other with dirty 
smiles. 

The youth turned to look behind him and off 
to the right and off to the left. He experienced 
the joy of a man who at last finds leisure in which 
to look about him. 

Under foot there were a few ghastly forms 
motionless. They lay twisted in fantastic contor- 
tions. Arms were bent and heads were turned 
in incredible ways. It seemed that the dead men 
must have fallen from some great height to get 
into such positions. They looked to be dumped 
out upon the ground Irom the sky. 

From a position in the rear of the grove a bat- 
tery was throwing shells over it. The flash of 



62 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

the guns startled the youth at first. He thought 
they were aimed directly at him. Through the 
trees he watched the black figures of the gunners 
as they worked swiftly and intently. Their labor 
seemed a complicated thing. He wondered how 
they could remember its formula in the midst of 
confusion. 

The guns squatted in a row like savage chiefs. 
They argued with abrupt violence. It was a 
grim pow-wow. Their busy servants ran hither 
and thither. 

A small procession of wounded men were go- 
ing drearily toward the rear. It was a flow of 
blood from the torn body of the brigade. 

To the right and to the left were the dark 
lines of other troops. Far in front he thought he 
could see lighter masses protruding in points 
from the forest. They were suggestive of un- 
numbered thousands. 

Once he saw a tiny battery go dashing along 
the line of the horizon. The tiny riders were 
beating the tiny horses. 

From a sloping hill came the sound of cheer- 
ings and clashes. Smoke welled slowly through 
the leaves. 

Batteries were speaking with thunderous ora- 
torical effort. Here and there were flags, the 
red in the stripes dominating. They splashed 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 63 

bits of warm color upon the dark lines of 
troops. 

The youth felt the old thrill at the sight of 
the emblem. They were like beautiful birds 
strangely undaunted in a storm. 

As he listened to the din from the hillside, to 
a deep pulsating thunder that came from afar to 
the left, and to the lesser clamors which came 
from many directions, it occurred to him that 
they were fighting, too, over there, and over 
there, and over there. Heretofore he had sup- 
posed that all the battle was directly under his 
nose. 

As he gazed around him the youth felt a flash 
of astonishment at the blue, pure sky and the 
sun gleamings on the trees and fields. It was 
surprising that Nature had gone tranquilly on 
with her golden process in the midst of so much 
devilment. 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE youth awakened slowly. He came grad- 
ually back to a position from which he could re- 
gard himself. For moments he had been scruti- 
nizing his person in a dazed way as if he had 
never before seen himself. Then he picked up 
his cap from the ground. He wriggled in his 
jacket to make a more comfortable fit, and kneel- 
ing relaced his shoe. He thoughtfully mopped 
his reeking features. 

So it was all over at last ! The supreme trial 
had been passed. The red, formidable difficulties 
of war had been vanquished. 

He went into an ecstasy of self-satisfaction. 
He had the most delightful sensations of his life. 
Standing as if apart from himself, he viewed that 
last scene. He perceived that the man who had 
fought thus was magnificent. 

He felt that he was a fine fellow. He saw 
himself even with those ideals which he had con- 
sidered as far beyond him. He smiled in deep 
gratification. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 65 

Upon his fellows he beamed tenderness and 
good will. " Gee ! ain't it hot, hey ? " he said 
affably to a man who was polishing his stream- 
ing face with his coat sleeves. 

" You bet ! " said the other, grinning sociably. 
" I never seen sech dumb hotness." He sprawled 
out luxuriously on the ground. " Gee, yes ! An 8 
I hope we don't have no more fightin' till a week 
from Monday." 

There were some handshakings and deep 
speeches with men whose features were familiar, 
but with whom the youth now felt the bonds of 
tied hearts. He helped a cursing comrade to 
bind up a wound of the shin. 

But, of a sudden, cries of amazement broke 
out along the ranks of the new regiment. " Here 
they come ag'in ! Here they come ag'in ! " The 
man who had sprawled upon the ground started 
up and said, " Gosh ! " 

The youth turned quick eyes upon the field. 
He discerned forms begin to swell in masses out 
of a distant wood. He again saw the tilted flag 
speeding forward. 

The shells, which had ceased to trouble the 
regiment for a time, came swirling again, and ex- 
ploded in the grass or among the leaves of the 
trees. They looked to be strange war flowers 
bursting into fierce bloom. 



66 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

The men groaned. The luster faded from 
their eyes. Their smudged countenances now 
expressed a profound dejection. They moved 
their stiffened bodies slowly, and watched in sul- 
len mood the frantic approach of the enemy. The 
slaves toiling in the temple of this god began to 
feel rebellion at his harsh tasks. 

They fretted and complained each to each. 
* Oh, say, this is too much of a good thing ! Why 
can't somebody send us supports? " 

35 We ain't never goin' to stand this second 
banging. I didn't come here to fight the hull 
damn' rebel army." 

There was one who raised a doleful cry. " I 
wish Bill Smithers had trod on my hand, in- 
steader me treddin' on his'n." The sore joints of 
the regiment creaked as it painfully floundered 
into position to repulse. 

The youth stared. Surely, he thought, this 
impossible thing was not about to happen. He 
waited as if he expected the enemy to suddenly 
stop, apologize, and retire bowing. It was all a 
mistake. 

But the firing began somewhere on the regi- 
mental line and ripped along in both directions. 
The level sheets of flame developed great clouds 
of smoke that tumbled and tossed in the mild 
wind near the ground for a moment, and then 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 67 

rolled through the ranks as through a gate. The 
clouds were tinged an earthlike yellow in the 
sunrays and in the shadow were a sorry blue. 
The flag was sometimes eaten and lost in this 
mass of vapor, but more often it projected, sun- 
touched, resplendent. 

Into the youth's eyes there came a look that 
one can see in the orbs of a jaded horse. His 
neck was quivering with nervous weakness and 
the muscles of his arms felt numb and bloodless. 
His hands, too, seemed large and awkward as if 
he was wearing invisible mittens. And there was 
a great uncertainty about his knee joints. 

The words that comrades had uttered previous 
to the firing began to recur to him. " Oh, say, 
this is too much of a good thing ! What do they 
take us for why don't they send supports? I 
didn't come here to fight the hull damned rebel 
army." 

He began to exaggerate the endurance, the 
skill, and the valor of those who were coming. 
Himself reeling from exhaustion, he was aston- 
ished beyond measure at such persistency. They 
must be machines of steel. It was very gloomy 
struggling against such affairs, wound up perhaps 
to fight until sundown. 

He slowly lifted his rifle and catching a 
glimpse of the thickspread field he blazed at a 



68 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

cantering cluster. He stopped then and began 
to peer as best he could through the smoke. He 
caught changing views of the ground covered 
with men who were all running like pursued 
imps, and yelling. 

To the youth it was an onslaught of redoubt- 
able dragons. He became like the man who lost 
his legs at the approach of the red and green 
monster. He waited in a sort of a horrified, 
listening attitude. He seemed to shut his eyes 
and wait to be gobbled. 

A man near him who up to this time had been 
working feverishly at his rifle suddenly stopped 
and ran with howls. A lad whose face had borne 
an expression of exalted courage, the majesty of 
he who dares give his life, was, at an instant, 
smitten abject. He blanched like one who has 
come to the edge of a cliff at midnight and is sud- 
denly made aware. There was a revelation. He, 
too, threw down his gun and fled. There was no 
shame in his face. He ran like a rabbit. 

Others began to scamper away through the 
smoke. The youth turned his head, shaken from 
his trance by this movement as if the regiment 
was leaving him behind. He saw the few fleeting 
forms. 

He yelled then with fright and swung about. 
For a moment, in the great clamor, he was like a 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 69 

proverbial chicken. He lost the direction of 
safety. Destruction threatened him from all 
points. 

Directly he began to speed toward the rear in 
great leaps. His rifle and cap were gone. His 
unbuttoned coat bulged in the wind. The flap of 
his cartridge box bobbed wildly, and his canteen, 
by its slender cord, swung out behind. On his 
face was all the horror of those things which he 
imagined. 

The lieutenant sprang forward bawling. The 
youth saw his features wrathfully red, and saw 
him make a dab with his sword. His one thought 
of the incident was that the lieutenant was a pecul- 
iar creature to feel interested in such matters 
upon this occasion. 

He ran like a blind man. Two or three times 
he fell down. Once he knocked his shoulder so 
heavily against a tree that he went headlong. 

Since he had turned his back upon the fight 
his fears had been wondrously magnified. Death 
about to thrust him between the shoulder blades 
was far more dreadful than death about to smite 
him between the eyes. When he thought of it 
later, he conceived the impression that it is better 
to view the appalling than to be merely within 
hearing. The noises of the battle were like 
stones ; he believed himself liable to be crushed. 



7Q THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

As he ran on he mingled with others. He 
dimly saw men on his right and on his left, and 
he heard footsteps behind him. He thought that 
all the regiment was fleeing, pursued by these 
ominous crashes. 

In his flight the sound of these following foot- 
steps gave him his one meager relief. He felt 
vaguely that death must make a first choice of 
the men who were nearest ; the initial morsels for 
the dragons would be then those who were fol- 
lowing him. So he displayed the zeal of an insane 
sprinter in his purpose to keep them in the rear. 
There was a race. 

As he, leading, went across a little field, he 
found himself in a region of shells. They hurtled 
over his head with long wild screams. As he 
listened he imagined them to have rows of cruel 
teeth that grinned at him. Once one lit before 
him and the livid lightning of the explosion 
effectually barred the way in his chosen direc- 
tion. He groveled on the ground and then 
springing up went careering off through some 
bushes. 

He experienced a thrill of amazement when 
he came within view of a battery in action. The 
men there seemed to be in conventional moods, 
altogether unaware of the impending annihila- 
tion. The battery was disputing with a distant 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. j\ 

antagonist and the gunners were wrapped in 
admiration of their shooting. They were con- 
tinually bending in coaxing postures over the 
guns. They seemed to be patting them on the 
back and encouraging them with words. The 
guns, stolid and undaunted, spoke with dogged 
valor. 

The precise gunners were coolly enthusiastic. 
They lifted their eyes every chance to the smoke- 
wreathed hillock from whence the hostile battery 
addressed them. The youth pitied them as he 
ran. Methodical idiots ! Machine-like fools ! The 
refined joy of planting shells in the midst of the 
other battery's formation would appear a little 
thing when the infantry came swooping out of 
the woods. 

The face of a youthful rider, who was jerking 
his frantic horse with an abandon of temper 
he might display in a placid barnyard, was im- 
pressed deeply upon his mind. He knew that 
he looked upon a man who would presently be 
dead. 

Too, he felt a pity for the guns, standing, six 
good comrades, in a bold row. 

He saw a brigade going to the relief of its pes- 
tered fellows. He scrambled upon a wee hill and 
watched it sweeping finely, keeping formation in 
difficult places. The blue of the line was crusted 



7 2 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

with steel color, and the brilliant flags projected. 
Officers were shouting. 

This sight also filled him with wonder. The 
brigade was hurrying briskly to be gulped into 
the infernal mouths of the war god. What man- 
ner of men were they, anyhow ? Ah, it was some 
wondrous breed ! Or else they didn't compre- 
hend the fools. 

A furious order caused commotion in the artil- 
lery. An officer on a bounding horse made mani- 
acal motions with his arms. The teams went 
swinging up from the rear, the guns were whirled 
about, and the battery scampered away. The 
cannon with their noses poked slantingly at the 
ground grunted and grumbled like stout men, 
brave but with objections to hurry. 

The youth went on, moderating his pace since 
he had left the place of noises. 

Later he came upon a general of division 
seated upon a horse that pricked its ears in 
an interested way at the battle. There was a 
great gleaming of yellow and patent leather 
about the saddle and bridle. The quiet man 
astride looked mouse-colored upon such a splen- 
did charger. 

A jingling staff was galloping hither and 
thither. Sometimes the general was surrounded 
by horsemen and at other times he was quite 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 73 

alone. He looked to be much harassed. He had 
the appearance of a business man whose market 
is swinging up and down. 

The youth went slinking around this spot. 
He went as near as he dared trying to overhear 
words. Perhaps the general, unable to compre- 
hend chaos, might call upon him for information. 
And he could tell him. He knew all concerning 
it. Of a surety the force was in a fix, and any 
fool could see that if they did not retreat while 
they had opportunity why- 
He felt that he would like to thrash the gen- 
eral, or at least approach and tell him in plain 
words exactly what he thought him to be. It 
was criminal to stay calmly in one spot and make 
no effort to stay destruction. He loitered in a 
fever of eagerness for the division commander to 
apply to him. 

As he warily moved about, he heard the gen- 
eral call out irritably : " Tompkins, go over an' 
see Taylor, an' tell him not t' be in such an all- 
fired hurry ; tell him t' halt his brigade in th' 
edge of th' woods ; tell him t' detach a reg'ment 
say I think th' center '11 break if we don't help 
it out some ; tell him t' hurry up." 

A slim youth on a fine chestnut horse caught 
these swift words from the mouth of his superior. 
He made his horse bound into a gallop almost 



74 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



from a walk in his haste to go upon his mission. 
There was a cloud of dust. 

A moment later the youth saw the general 
bounce excitedly in his saddle. 

" Yes, by heavens, they have ! " The officer 
leaned forward. His face was aflame with excite- 
ment.. " Yes, by heavens, they 've held 'im ! 
They Ve held 'im ! " 

He began to blithely roar at his staff : " We '11 
wallop 'im now. We '11 wallop 'im now. We 've 
got 'em sure." He turned suddenly upon an aid : 
" Here you Jones quick ride after Tompkins 
see Taylor tell him t' go in everlastingly 
like blazes anything." 

As another officer sped his horse after the first 
messenger, the general beamed upon the earth 
like a sun. In his eyes was a desire to chant a 
paean. He kept repeating, " They 've held 'em, 
by heavens ! " 

His excitement made his horse plunge, and he 
merrily kicked and swore at it. He held a little 
carnival of joy on horseback. 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE youth cringed as if discovered in a crime. 
By heavens, they had won after all! The im- 
becile line had remained and become victors. 
He could hear cheering. 

He lifted himself upon his toes and looked in 
the direction of the fight. A yellow fog lay wal- 
lowing on the treetops. From beneath it came 
the clatter of musketry. Hoarse cries told of an 
advance. 

He turned away amazed and angry. He felt 
that he had been wronged. 

He had fled, he told himself, because annihila- 
tion approached. He had done a good part in 
saving himself, who was a little piece of the army. 
He had considered the time, he said, to be one in 
which it was the duty of every little piece to res- 
cue itself if possible. Later the officers could fit 
the little pieces together again, and make a battle 
front. If none of the little pieces were wise enough 
to save themselves from the flurry of death at such 



76 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

a time, why, then, where would be the army ? It 
was all plain that he had proceeded according to 
very correct and commendable rules. His ac- 
tions had been sagacious things. They had been 
full of strategy. They were the work of a mas- 
ter's legs. 

Thoughts of his comrades came to him. The 
brittle blue line had withstood the blows and won. 
He grew bitter over it. It seemed that the blind 
ignorance and stupidity of those little pieces had 
betrayed him. He had been overturned and 
crushed by their lack of sense in holding the po- 
sition, when intelligent deliberation would have 
convinced them that it was impossible. He, the 
enlightened man who looks afar in the dark, had 
fled because of his superior perceptions and 
knowledge. He felt a great anger against his 
comrades. He knew it could be proved that 
they had been fools. 

He wondered what they would remark when 
later he appeared in camp. His mind heard 
howls of derision. Their density would not en- 
able them to understand his sharper point of 
view. 

He began to pity himself acutely. He was 
ill used. He was trodden beneath the feet of an 
iron injustice. He had proceeded with wisdom 
and from the most righteous motives under 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



77 



heaven's blue only to be frustrated by hateful 
circumstances. 

A dull, animal-like rebellion against his fel- 
lows, war in the abstract, and fate grew within 
him. He shambled along with bowed head, his 
brain in a tumult of agony and despair. When 
he looked loweringly up, quivering at each 
sound, his eyes had the expression of those of 
a criminal who thinks his guilt and his pun- 
ishment great, and knows that he can find no 
words. 

He went from the fields into a thick wood, as 
if resolved to bury himself. He wished to get 
out of hearing of the crackling shots which were 
to him like voices. 

The ground was cluttered with vines and 
bushes, and the trees grew close and spread out 
like bouquets. He was obliged to force his way 
with much noise. The creepers, catching against 
his legs, cried out harshly as their sprays were 
torn from the barks of trees. The swishing sap- 
lings tried to make known his presence to the 
world. He could not conciliate the forest. As 
he made his way, it was always calling out prot- 
estations. When he separated embraces of trees 
and vines the disturbed foliages waved their arms 
and turned their face leaves toward him. He 
dreaded lest these noisy motions and cries should 



78 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

bring men to look at him. So he went far, seek- 
ing dark and intricate places. 

After a time the sound of musketry grew faint 
and the cannon boomed in the distance. The sun, 
suddenly apparent, blazed among the trees. The 
insects were making rhythmical noises. They 
seemed to be grinding their teeth in unison. A 
woodpecker stuck his impudent head around the 
side of a tree. A bird flew on lighthearted wing. 

Off was the rumble of death. It seemed now 
that Nature had no ears. 

This landscape gave him assurance. A fair 
field holding life. It was the religion of peace. 
It would die if its timid eyes were compelled to 
see blood. He conceived Nature to be a woman 
with a deep aversion to tragedy. 

He threw a pine cone at a jovial squirrel, and 
he ran with chattering fear. High in a treetop 
he stopped, and, poking his head cautiously from 
behind a branch, looked down with a air of trepi- 
dation. 

The youth felt triumphant at this exhibition. 
There was the law, he said. Nature had given 
him a sign. The squirrel, immediately upon rec- 
ognizing danger, had taken to his legs without 
ado. He did not stand stolidly baring his furry 
belly to the missile, and die with an upward 
glance at the sympathetic heavens. On the con- 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 79 

trary, he had fled as fast as his legs could carry 
him ; and he was but an ordinary squirrel, too- 
doubtless no philosopher of his race. The youth 
wended, feeling that Nature was of his mind. 
She re-enforced his argument with proofs that 
lived where the sun shone. 

Once he found himself almost into a swamp. 
He was obliged to walk upon bog tufts and 
watch his feet to keep from the oily mire. Paus- 
ing at one time to look about him he saw, out at 
some black water, a small animal pounce in and 
emerge directly with a gleaming fish. 

The youth went again into the deep thickets. 
The brushed branches made a noise that drowned 
the sounds of cannon. He walked on, going from 
obscurity into promises of a greater obscurity. 

At length he reached a place where the high, 
arching boughs made a chapel. He softly pushed 
the green doors aside and entered. Pine needles 
were a gentle brown carpet. There was a reli- 
gious half light. 

Near the threshold he stopped, horror-stricken 
at the sight of a thing. 

He was being looked at by a dead man who 
was seated with his back against a columnlike 
tree. The corpse was dressed in a uniform that 
once had been blue, but was now faded to a mel- 
ancholy shade of green. The eyes, staring at the 

6 



go THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

youth, had changed to the dull hue to be seen on 
the side of a dead fish. The mouth was open. 
Its red had changed to an appalling yellow. 
Over the gray skin of the face ran little ants. 
One was trundling some sort of a bundle along 
the upper lip. 

The youth gave a shriek as he confronted the 
thing. He was for moments turned to stone be- 
fore it. He remained staring into the liquid-look- 
ing eyes. The dead man and the living man ex- 
changed a long look. Then the youth cautiously 
put one hand behind him and brought it against 
a tree. Leaning upon this he retreated, step by 
step, with his face still toward the thing. He 
feared that if he turned his back the body might 
spring up and stealthily pursue him. 

The branches, pushing against him, threat- 
ened to throw him over upon it. His unguided 
feet, too, caught aggravatingly in brambles ; and 
with it all he received a subtle suggestion to 
touch the corpse. As he thought of his hand 
upon it he shuddered profoundly. 

At last he burst the bonds which had fastened 
him to the spot and fled, unheeding the under- 
brush. He was pursued by a sight of the black 
ants swarming greedily upon the gray face and 
venturing horribly near to the eyes. 

After a time he paused, and, breathless and 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. gl 

panting, listened. He imagined some strange 
voice would come from the dead throat and 
squawk after him in horrible menaces. 

The trees about the portal of the chapel 
moved soughingly in a soft wind. A sad silence 
was upon the little guarding edifice. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE trees began softly to sing a hymn of twi- 
light. The sun sank until slanted bronze rays 
struck the forest. There was a lull in the noises 
of insects as if they had bowed their beaks and 
were making a devotional pause. There was 
silence save for the chanted chorus of the trees. 

Then, upon this stillness, there suddenly broke 
a tremendous clangor of sounds. A crimson roar 
came from the distance. 

The youth stopped. He was transfixed by 
this terrific medley of all noises. It was as if 
worlds were being rended. There was the rip- 
ping sound of musketry and the breaking crash 
of the artillery. 

His mind flew in all directions. He conceived 
the two armies to be at each other panther 
fashion. He listened for a time. Then he began 
to run in the direction of the battle. He saw 
that it was an ironical thing for him to be run- 
ning thus toward that which he had been at such 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 83 

pains to avoid. But he said, in substance, to him- 
self that if the earth and the moon were about to 
clash, many persons would doubtless plan to get 
upon the roofs to witness the collision. 

As he ran, he became aware that the forest 
had stopped its music, as if at last becoming 
capable of hearing the foreign sounds. The trees 
hushed and stood motionless. Everything seemed 
to be listening to the crackle and clatter and ear- 
shaking thunder. The chorus pealed over the 
still earth. 

It suddenly occurred to the youth that the 
fight in which he had been was, after all, but 
perfunctory popping. In the hearing of this 
present din he was doubtful if he had seen real 
battle scenes. This uproar explained a celes- 
tial battle ; it was tumbling hordes a-struggle in 
the air. 

Reflecting, he saw a sort of a humor in the 
point of view of himself and his fellows during 
the late encounter. They had taken themselves 
and the enemy very seriously and had imagined 
that they were deciding the war. Individuals 
must have supposed that they were cutting the 
letters of their names deep into everlasting tablets 
of brass, or enshrining their reputations forever in 
the hearts of their countrymen, while, as to fact, 
the affair would appear in printed reports under a 



84 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

meek and immaterial title. But he saw that it was 
good, else, he said, in battle every one would 
surely run save forlorn hopes and their ilk. 

He went rapidly on. He wished to come to 
the edge of the forest that he might peer out. 

As he hastened, there passed through his mind 
pictures of stupendous conflicts. His accumulated 
thought upon such subjects was used to form 
scenes. The noise was as the voice of an eloquent 
being, describing. 

Sometimes the brambles formed chains and 
tried to hold him back. Trees, confronting him, 
stretched out their arms and forbade him to pass. 
After its previous hostility this new resistance of 
the forest filled him with a fine bitterness. It 
seemed that Nature could not be quite ready to 
kill him. 

But he obstinately took roundabout ways, and 
presently he was where he could see long gray 
walls of vapor where lay battle lines. The voices 
of cannon shook him. The musketry sounded in 
long irregular surges that played havoc with his 
ears. He stood regardant for a moment. His 
eyes had an awestruck expression. He gawked 
in the direction of the fight. 

Presently he proceeded again on his forward 
way. The battle was like the grinding of an 
immense and terrible machine to him. Its com- 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 85 

plexities and powers, its grim processes, fascinated 
him. He must go close and see it produce 
corpses. 

He came to a fence and clambered over it. 
On the far side, the ground was littered with 
clothes and guns. A newspaper, folded up, lay 
in the dirt. A dead soldier was stretched with 
his face hidden in his arm. Farther off there 
was a group of four or five corpses keeping 
mournful company. A hot sun had blazed upon 
the spot. 

In this place the youth felt that he was an 
invader. This forgotten part of the battle ground 
was owned by the dead men, and he hurried, in 
the vague apprehension that one of the swollen 
forms would rise and tell him to begone. 

He came finally to a road from which he 
could see in the distance dark and agitated 
bodies of troops, smoke-fringed. In the lane 
was a blood-stained crowd streaming to the rear. 
The wounded men were cursing, groaning, and 
wailing. In the air, always, was a mighty swell 
of sound that it seemed could sway the earth. 
With the courageous words of the artillery and 
the spiteful sentences of the musketry mingled 
red cheers. And from this region of noises came 
the steady current of the maimed. 

One of the wounded men had a shoeful of 



86 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

blood. He hopped like a schoolboy in a game. 
He was laughing hysterically. 

One was swearing that he had been shot in the 
arm through the commanding general's misman- 
agement of the army. One was marching with 
an air imitative of some sublime drum major. 
Upon his features was an unholy mixture of 
merriment and agony. As he marched he sang 
a bit of doggerel in a high and quavering voice : 

" Sing a song 'a vie 'try, 

A pocketful 'a bullets, 
Five an' twenty dead men 
Baked in a pie." 

Parts of the procession limped and staggered to 
this tune. 

Another had the gray seal of death already 
upon his face. His lips were curled in hard lines 
and his teeth were clinched. His hands were 
bloody from where he had pressed them upon his 
wound. He seemed to be awaiting the moment 
when he should pitch headlong. He s'alked like 
the specter of a soldier, his eyes burning with the 
power of a stare into the unknown. 

There were some who proceeded sullenly, full 
of anger at their wounds, and ready to turn upon 
anything as an obscure cause. 

An officer was carried along by two privates. 
He was peevish. " Don't joggle so, Johnson, yeh 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. g/ 

fool," he cried. " Think m' leg is made of iron? 
If yeh can't carry me decent, put me down an' 
let some one else do it." 

He bellowed at the tottering crowd who 
blocked the quick march of his bearers. "Say, 
make way there, can't yeh ? Make way, dickens 
take it all." 

They sulkily parted and went to the road- 
sides. As he was carried past they made pert 
remarks to him. When he raged in reply and 
threatened them, they told him to be damned. 

The shoulder of one of the tramping bearers 
knocked heavily against the spectral soldier who 
was staring into the unknown. 

The youth joined this crowd and marched 
along with it. The torn bodies expressed the 
awful machinery in which the men had been 
entangled. 

Orderlies and couriers occasionally broke 
through the throng in the roadway, scattering 
wounded men right and left, galloping on fol- 
lowed by howls. The melancholy march was 
continually disturbed by the messengers, and 
sometimes by bustling batteries that came swing- 
ing and thumping down upon them, the officers 
shouting orders to clear the way. 

There was a tattered man, fouled with dust, 
blood and powder stain from hair to shoes, who 



88 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

trudged quietly at the youth's side. He was lisr 
tening with eagerness and much humility to the 
lurid descriptions of a bearded sergeant. His 
lean features wore an expression of awe and ad- 
miration. He was like a listener in a country 
store to wondrous tales told among the sugar 
barrels. He eyed the story-teller with unspeak- 
able wonder. His mouth was agape in yokel 
fashion. 

The sergeant, taking note of this, gave pause 
to his elaborate history while he administered a 
sardonic comment. " Be keerful, honey, you '11 
be a-ketchin' flies," he said. 

The tattered man shrank back abashed. 

After a time he began to sidle near to the 
youth, and in a different way try to make him a 
friend. His voice was gentle as a girl's voice 
and his eyes were pleading. The youth saw 
with surprise that the soldier had two wounds, 
one in the head, bound with a blood-soaked rag, 
and the other in the arm, making that member 
dangle like a broken bough. 

After they had walked together for some time 
the tattered man mustered sufficient courage to 
speak. "Was pretty good fight, wa'n't it?" 
he timidly said. The youth, deep in thought, 
glanced up at the bloody and grim figure with 
its lamblike eyes. " What ? " 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 9 

" Was pretty good fight, wa'n't it?" 

" Yes," said the youth shortly. He quick- 
ened his pace. 

But the other hobbled industriously after him. 
There was an air of apology in his manner, but 
he evidently thought that he needed only to talk 
for a time, and the youth would perceive that he 
was a good fellow. 

" Was pretty good fight, wa'n't it?" he began 
in a small voice, and then he achieved the forti- 
tude to continue. " Bern me if I ever see fellers 
fight so. Laws, how they did fight ! I knowed 
th' boys 'd like when they onct got square at it. 
Th' boys ain't had no fair chanct up t' now, but 
this time they showed what they was. I knowed 
it 'd turn out this way. Yeh can't lick them boys. 
No, sir ! They 're fighters, they be." 

He breathed a deep breath of humble ad- 
miration. He had looked at the youth for en- 
couragement several times. He received none, 
but gradually he seemed to get absorbed in his 
subject. 

" I was talkin' 'cross pickets with a boy from 
Georgie, onct, an' that boy, he ses, ' Your fellers 
'11 all run like hell when they onct hearn a gun,' 
he ses. ' Mebbe they will,' I ses, * but I don't 
b'lieve none of it,' I ses ; ' an' b'jiminey,' I ses back 
t' 'um, 'mebbe your fellers '11 all run like hell 



90 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

when they onct hearn a gun,' I ses. He larfed. 
Well, they didn't run t' day, did they, hey? No, 
sir ! They fit, an' fit, an' fit." 

His homely face was suffused with a light of 
love for the army which was to him all things 
beautiful and powerful. 

After a time he turned to the youth. " Where 
yeh hit, ol' boy ? " he asked in a brotherly tone. 

The youth felt instant panic at this question, 
although at first its full import was not borne in 
upon him. 

"What?" he asked. 

" Where yeh hit ? " repeated the tattered man. 

" Why," began the youth, " I I that is 

Why I " 

He turned away suddenly and slid through 
the crowd. His brow was heavily flushed, and 
his fingers were picking nervously at one of his 
buttons. He bent his head and fastened his eyes 
studiously upon the button as if it were a little 
problem. 

The tattered man looked after him in aston- 
ishment. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE youth fell back in the procession until 
the tattered soldier was not in sight. Then he 
started to walk on with the others,. 

But he was amid wounds. The mob of men 
was bleeding. Because of the tattered soldier's 
question he now felt that his shame could be 
viewed. He was continually casting sidelong 
glances to see if the men were contemplating the 
letters of guilt he felt burned into his brow. 

At times he regarded the wounded soldiers 
in an envious way. He conceived persons with 
torn bodies to be peculiarly happy. He wished 
that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of cour- 
age. 

The spectral soldier was at his side like a 
stalking reproach. The man's eyes were still 
fixed in a stare into the unknown. His gray, 
appalling face had attracted attention in the 
crowd, and men, slowing to his dreary pace, were 
walking with him. They were discussing his 
plight, questioning him and giving him advice. 



9 2 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

In a dogged way he repelled them, signing to them 
to go on and leave him alone. The shadows of 
his face were deepening and his tight lips seemed 
holding in check the moan of great despair. 
There could be seen a certain stiffness in the 
movements of his body, as if he were taking 
infinite care not to arouse the passion of his 
wounds. As he went on, he seemed always look- 
ing for a place, like one who goes to choose a 
grave. 

Something in the gesture of the man as he 
waved the bloody and pitying soldiers away 
made the youth start as if bitten. He yelled in 
horror. Tottering forward he laid a quivering 
hand upon the man's arm. As the latter slowly 
turned his waxlike features toward him, the 
youth screamed : 

" Gawd ! Jim Conklin ! " 

The tall soldier made a little commonplace 
smile. " Hello, Henry," he said. 

The youth swayed on his legs and glared 
strangely. He stuttered and stammered. " Oh, 
Jim oh, Jim oh, Jim -" 

The tall soldier held out his gory hand. There 
was a curious red and black combination of new 
blood and old blood upon it. " Where yeh been, 
Henry ?" he asked. He continued in a monoto- 
nous voice, " I thought mebbe yeh got keeled 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



93 



over. There 's been thunder t* pay t'-day. I was 
worryin' about it a good deal." 

The youth still lamented. " Oh, Jim oh, Jim 
oh, Jim " 

" Yeh know," said the tall soldier, " I was out 
there." He made a careful gesture. " An', 
Lord, what a circus ! An', b'jiminey, I got shot 
I got shot. Yes, b'jiminey, I got shot." He 
reiterated this fact in a bewildered way, as if he 
did not know how it came about. 

The youth put forth anxious arms to assist 
him, but the tall soldier went firmly on as if pro- 
pelled. Since the youth's arrival as a guardian 
for his friend, the other wounded men had ceased 
to display much interest. They occupied them- 
selves again in dragging their own tragedies 
toward the rear. 

Suddenly, as the two friends marched on, the 
tall soldier seemed to be overcome by a terror. 
His face turned to a semblance of gray paste. 
He clutched the youth's arm and looked all about 
him, as if dreading to be overheard. Then he 
began to speak in a shaking whisper : 

" I tell yeh what I'm 'fraid of, Henry I '11 tell 
yeh what I 'm 'fraid of. I 'm 'fraid I '11 fall down 
an* then yeh know them damned artillery 
wagons they like as not '11 run over me. That 's 
what I 'm 'fraid of " 



94 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

The youth cried out to him hysterically : " I '11 
take care of yeh, Jim ! I'll take care of yeh ! I 
swear t' Gawd I will ! " 

"Sure will yeh, Henry?" the tall soldier 
beseeched. 

" Yes yes I tell yeh I '11 take care of yeh, 
Jim ! " protested the youth. He could not speak 
accurately because of the gulpings in his throat. 

But the tall soldier continued to beg in a 
lowly way. He now hung babelike to the 
youth's arm. His eyes rolled in the wildness of 
his terror. " I was allus a good friend t' yeh, 
wa'n't I, Henry ? I 've allus been a pretty good 
feller, ain't I ? An' it ain't much t' ask, is it ? Jest 
t* pull me along outer th' road ? I 'd do it fer you, 
wouldn't I, Henry ? " 

He paused in piteous anxiety to await his 
friend's reply. 

The youth had reached an anguish where the 
sobs scorched him. He strove to express his 
loyalty, but he could only make fantastic gestures. 

However, the tall soldier seemed suddenly to 
forget all those fears. He became again the 
grim, stalking specter of a soldier. He went 
stonily forward. The youth wished his friend to 
lean upon him, but the other always shook his 
head and strangely protested. " No no no 
leave me be leave me be " 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



95 



His look was fixed again upon the unknown. 
He moved with mysterious purpose, and all of 
the youth's offers he brushed aside. " No no 
leave me be leave me be " 

The youth had to follow. 

Presently the latter heard a voice talking 
softly near his shoulders. Turning he saw that it 
belonged to the tattered soldier. " Ye 'd better 
take 'im outa th' road, pardner. There 's a batt'ry 
comin' helitywhoop down th' road an' he '11 git 
runned over. He 's a goner anyhow in about five 
minutes yeh kin see that. Ye 'd better take 'im 
outa th' road. Where th' blazes does he git his 
stren'th from ? " 

" Lord knows ! " cried the youth. He was 
shaking his hands helplessly. 

He ran forward presently and grasped the 
tall soldier by the arm. " Jim ! Jim ! " he coaxed, 
" come with me." 

The tall soldier weakly tried to wrench himself 
free. " Huh," he said vacantly. He stared at the 
youth for a moment. At last he spoke as if dimly 
comprehending. " Oh ! Inteh th' fields ? Oh ! " 

He started blindly through the grass. 

The youth turned once to look at the lashing 
riders and jouncing guns of the battery. He was 
startled from this view by a shrill outcry from 

the tattered man. 
7 



96 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

" Gawd ! He's runnin' ! " 

Turning his head swiftly, the youth saw his 
friend running in a staggering and stumbling 
way toward a little clump of bushes. His heart 
seemed to wrench itself almost free from his 
body at this sight. He made a noise of pain. 
He and the tattered man began a pursuit. There 
was a singular race. 

When he overtook the tall soldier he began 
to plead with all the words he could find. " Jim 
Jim what are you doing what makes you do 
this way you '11 hurt yerself." 

The same purpose was in the tall soldier's face. 
He protested in a dulled way, keeping his eyes 
fastened on the mystic place of his intentions. 

"No no don't tech me leave me be leave 

i 

me be 

The youth, aghast and filled with wonder at the 
tall soldier, began quaveringly to question him. 
" Where yeh goin', Jim ? What you thinking 
about? Where you going? Tell me, won't you, 
Jim?" 

The tall soldier faced about as upon relentless 
pursuers. In his eyes there was a great appeal. 
" Leave me be, can't yeh ? Leave me be fer a 
minnit." 

The youth recoiled. " Why, Jim," he said, in 
a dazed way, " what 's the matter with you ? " 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



97 



The tall soldier turned and, lurching danger- 
ously, went on. The youth and the tattered 
soldier followed, sneaking as if whipped, feeling 
unable to face the stricken man if he should again 
confront them. They began to have thoughts of 
a solemn ceremony. There was something rite- 
like in these movements of the doomed soldier. 
And there was a resemblance in him to a devotee 
of a mad religion, blood-sucking, muscle-wrench- 
ing, bone-crushing. They were awed and afraid. 
They hung back lest he have at command a 
dreadful weapon. 

At last, they saw him stop and stand motion- 
less. Hastening up, they perceived that his face 
wore an expression telling that he had at last 
found the place for which he had struggled. His 
spare figure was erect; his bloody hands were 
quietly at his side. He was waiting with patience 
for something that he had come to meet. He was 
at the rendezvous. They paused and stood, ex- 
pectant. 

There was a silence. 

Finally, the chest of the doomed soldier began 
to heave with a strained motion. It increased in 
violence until it was as if an animal was within 
and was kicking and tumbling furiously to be 
free. 

This spectacle of gradual strangulation made 



9 8 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

the youth writhe, and once as his friend rolled his 
eyes, he saw something in them that made him 
sink wailing to the ground. He raised his voice 
in a last supreme call. 

" Jim Jim Jim " 

The tall soldier opened his lips and spoke. 
He made a gesture. " Leave me be don't tech 
me leave me be " 

There was another silence while he waited. 

Suddenly, his form stiffened and straightened. 
Then it was shaken by a prolonged ague. He 
stared into space. To the two watchers there 
was a curious and profound dignity in the firm 
lines of his awful face. 

He was invaded by a creeping strangeness 
that slowly enveloped him. For a moment the 
tremor of his legs caused him to dance a sort of 
hideous hornpipe. His arms beat wildly about 
his head in expression of implike enthusiasm. 

His tall figure stretched itself to its full height. 
There was a slight rending sound. Then it began 
to swing forward, slow and straight, in the man- 
ner of a falling tree. A swift muscular contortion 
made the left shoulder strike the ground first. 

The body seemed to bounce a little way from 
the earth. " God ! " said the tattered soldier. 

The youth had watched, spellbound, this 
ceremony at the place of meeting. His face 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 99 

had been twisted into an expression of every 
agony he had imagined for his friend. 

He now sprang to his feet and, going closer, 
gazed upon the pastelike face. The mouth was 
open and the teeth showed in a laugh. 

As the flap of the blue jacket fell away from 
the body, he could see that the side looked as if it 
had been chewed by wolves. 

The youth turned, with sudden, livid rage, 
toward the battlefield. He shook his fist. He 
seemed about to deliver a philippic. 

" Hell " 

The red sun was pasted in the sky like a wafer. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE tattered man stood musing. 

"Well, he was reg'lar jim-dandy fer nerve, 
wa'n't he," said he finally in a little awestruck 
voice. "A reg'lar jim-dandy." He thoughtfully 
poked one of the docile hands with his foot. " I 
wonner where he got 'is stren'th from ? I never 
seen a man do like that before. It was a funny 
thing. Well, he was a reg'lar jim-dandy." 

The youth desired to screech out his grief. 
He was stabbed, but his tongue lay dead in the 
tomb of his mouth. He threw himself again 
upon the ground and began to brood. 

The tattered man stood musing. 

" Look-a-here, pardner," he said, after a time. 
He regarded the corpse as he spoke. " He 's up 
an' gone, ain't 'e, an* we might as well begin t' 
look out fer ol' number one. This here thing is 
all over. He 's up an' gone, ain't 'e ? An' he 's all 
right here. Nobody won't bother 'im. An' I 
must say I ain't enjoying any great health m'self 
these days." 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. IO i 

The youth, awakened by the tattered soldier's 
tone, looked quickly up. He saw that he was 
swinging uncertainly on his legs and that his face 
had turned to a shade of blue. 

" Good Lord ! " he cried, " you ain't goin' t' 
not you, too." 

The tattered man waved his hand. " Nary 
die," he said. " All I want is some pea soup an' 
a good bed. Some pea soup," he repeated 
dreamfully. 

The youth arose from the ground. " I wonder 
where he came from. I left him over there." 
He pointed. " And now I find 'im here. And 
he was coming from over there, too." He in- 
dicated a new direction. They both turned 
toward the body as if to ask of it a question. 

" Well," at length spoke the tattered man, 
" there ain't no use in our stayin* here an' tryin' t' 
ask him anything." 

The youth nodded an assent wearily. They 
both turned to gaze for a moment at the corpse. 

The youth murmured something. 

" Well, he was a jim-dandy, wa'n't 'e ? " said 
the tattered man as if in response. 

They turned their backs upon it and started 
away. For a time they stole softly, treading 
with their toes. It remained laughing there in 
the grass. 



102 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

" I'm commencin' t' feel pretty bad/' said the 
tattered man, suddenly breaking one of his little 
silences. " I'm commencin' t' feel pretty damn' 
bad." 

The youth groaned. " O Lord ! " He won- 
dered if he was to be the tortured witness of 
another grim encounter. 

But his companion waved his hand reassur- 
ingly. " Oh, I'm not goin' t' die yit ! There too 
much dependin' on me fer me t' die yit. No, sir ! 
Nary die ! I cant ! Ye'd oughta see th' swad 
a' chil'ren I've got, an' all like that." 

The youth glancing at his companion could 
see by the shadow of a smile that he was making 
some kind of fun. 

As they plodded on the tattered soldier con- 
tinued to talk. " Besides, if I died, I wouldn't 
die th' way that feller did. That was th' funniest 
thing. I'd jest flop down, I would. I never seen 
a feller die th' way that feller did. 

" Yeh know Tom Jamison, he lives next door 
t' me up home. He's a nice feller, he is, an' we 
was allus good friends. Smart, too. Smart as a 
steel trap. Well, when we was a-fightin' this 
atternoon, all-of-a-sudden he begin t' rip up an' 
cuss an' beller at me. ' Yer shot, yeh blamed 
infernal ! ' he swear horrible he ses t' me. I 
put up m' hand t' m' head an' when I looked at 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



103 



m' fingers, I seen, sure 'nough, I was shot. I 
give a holler an* begin t' run, but b'fore I could 
git away another one hit me in th' arm an' whirl' 
me clean 'round. I got skeared when they was 
all a-shootin' b'hind me an' I run t' beat all, 
but I cotch it pretty bad. I've an idee I'd 
a' been fightin' yit, if t'was n't fer Tom Jami- 
son." 

Then he made a calm announcement : " There's 
two of 'em little ones but they 're beginnin' t' 
have fun with me now. I don't blieve I kin walk 
much furder." 

They went slowly on in silence. " Yeh look 
pretty peek-ed yerself," said the tattered man at 
last. " I bet yeh 've got a worser one than yeh 
think. Ye'd better take keer of yer hurt. It 
don't do t' let sech things go. It might be inside 
mostly, an* them plays thunder. Where is it 
located ? " But he continued his harangue with- 
out waiting for a reply. " I see 'a feller git hit 
plum in th' head when my reg'ment was a-standin' 
at ease onct. An' everybody yelled out to 'im : 
Hurt, John ? Are yeh hurt much ? ' No/ ses he. 
He looked kinder surprised, an' he went on tellin* 
'em how he felt. He sed he didn't feel nothin'. 
But, by dad, th' first thing that feller knowed he 
was dead. Yes, he was dead stone dead. So, 
yeh wanta watch out. Yeh might have some 



104 THE RED BAE) GE OF COURAGE. 

queer kind 'a hurt yerself. Yeh can't never tell. 
Where is your'n located ? " 

The youth had been wriggling since the intro- 
duction of this topic. He now gave a cry of ex- 
asperation and made a furious motion with his 
hand. " Oh, don't bother me ! " he said. He was 
enraged against the tattered man, and could have 
strangled him. His companions seemed ever to 
play intolerable parts. They were ever uprais- 
ing the ghost of shame on the stick of their 
curiosity. He turned toward the tattered man as 
one at bay. "Now, don't bother me," he re- 
peated with desperate menace. 

" Well, Lord knows I don't wanta bother any- 
body," said the other. There was a little accent 
of despair in his voice as he replied, " Lord 
knows I 've gota 'nough m' own t' tend to." 

The youth, who had been holding a bitter de- 
bate with himself and casting glances of hatred 
and contempt at the tattered man, here spoke in 
a hard voice. " Good-by," he said. 

The tattered man looked at him in gaping 
amazement. " Why why, pardner, where yeh 
goin' ? " he asked unsteadily. The youth looking 
at him, could see that he, too, like that other one, 
was beginning to act dumb and animal-like. His 
thoughts seemed to be floundering about in his 
head. " Now now look a here, you Tom 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 105 

Jamison now I won't have this this here 
won't do. Where where yeh goin' ? " 

The youth pointed vaguely. " Over there,'* 
he replied. 

" Well, now look a here now/' said the 
tattered man, rambling on in idiot fashion. His 
head was hanging forward and his words were 
slurred. " This thing won't do, now, Tom Jami- 
son. It won't do. I know yeh, yeh pig-headed 
devil. Yeh wanta go trompin' off with a bad 
hurt. It ain't right now Tom Jamison it ain't. 
Yeh wanta leave me take keer of yeh, Tom Jami- 
son. It ain't right it ain't fer yeh t' go 
trompin' off with a bad hurt it ain't ain't 
ain't right it ain't." 

In reply the youth climbed a fence and 
started away. He could hear the tattered man 
bleating plaintively. 

Once he faced about angrily. " What ? " 

" Look a here, now, Tom Jamison now 
it ain't " 

The youth went on. Turning at a distance he 
saw the tattered man wandering about helplessly 
in the field. 

He now thought that he wished he was dead. 
He believed that he envied those men whose 
bodies lay strewn over the grass of the fields and 
on the fallen leaves of the forest. 



106 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

The simple questions of the tattered man had 
been knife thrusts to him. They asserted a 
society that probes pitilessly at secrets until all is 
apparent. His late companion's chance persist- 
ency made him feel that he could not keep his 
crime concealed in his bosom. It was sure to be 
brought plain by one of those arrows which 
cloud the air and are constantly pricking, dis- 
covering, proclaiming those things which are 
willed to be forever hidden. He admitted that 
he could not defend himself against this agency. 
It was not within the power of vigilance. 



CHAPTER XL 

HE became aware that the furnace roar of the 
battle was growing- louder. Great brown clouds 
had floated to the still heights of air before him. 
The noise, too, was approaching. The woods 
filtered men and the fields became dotted. 

As he rounded a hillock, he perceived that the 
roadway was now a crying mass of wagons, 
teams, and men. From the heaving tangle issued 
exhortations, commands, imprecations. Fear was 
sweeping it all along. The cracking whips bit 
and horses plunged and tugged. The white- 
topped wagons strained and stumbled in their 
exertions like fat sheep. 

The youth felt comforted in a measure by this 
sight. They were all retreating. Perhaps, then, 
he was not so bad after all. He seated himself 
and watched the terror-stricken wagons. They 
fled like soft, ungainly animals. All the roarers 
and lashers served to help him to magnify the 
dangers and horrors of the engagement that he 



108 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

might try to prove to himself that the thing with 
which men could charge him was in truth a 
symmetrical act. There was an amount of pleas- 
ure to him in watching the wild march of this 
vindication. 

Presently the calm head of a forward-going 
column of infantry appeared in the road. It 
came swiftly on. Avoiding the obstructions gave 
it the sinuous movement of a serpent. The men 
at the head butted mules with their musket 
stocks. They prodded teamsters indifferent to 
all howls. The men forced their way through 
parts of the dense mass by strength. The blunt 
head of the column pushed. The raving team- 
sters swore many strange oaths. 

The commands to make way had the ring of a 
great importance in them. The men were going 
forward to the heart of the din. They were to 
confront the eager rush of the enemy. They felt 
the pride of their onward movement when the 
remainder of the army seemed trying to dribble 
down this road. They tumbled teams about 
with a fine feeling that it was no matter so long 
as their column got to the front in time. This 
importance made their faces grave and stern. 
And the backs of the officers were very rigid. 

As the youth looked at them the black weight 
of his woe returned to him. He felt that he was 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 109 

regarding a procession of chosen beings. The 
separation was as great to him as if they had 
marched with weapons of flame and banners of 
sunlight. He could never be like them. He 
could have wept in his longings. 

He searched about in his mind for an ade- 
quate malediction for the indefinite cause, the 
thing upon which men turn the words of final 
blame. It whatever it was was responsible for 
him, he said. There lay the fault. 

The haste of the column to reach the battle 
seemed to the forlorn young man to be some- 
thing much finer than stout fighting. Heroes, he 
thought, could find excuses in that long seething 
lane. They could retire with perfect self-respect 
and make excuses to the stars. 

He wondered what those men had eaten that 
they could be in such haste to force their way to 
grim chances of death. As he watched his envy 
grew until he thought that he wished to change 
lives with one of them. He would have liked to 
have used a tremendous force, he said, throw off 
himself and become a better. Swift pictures of 
himself, apart, yet in himself, came to him a 
blue desperate figure leading lurid charges with 
one knee forward and a broken blade high a 
blue, determined figure standing before a crimson 
and steel assault, getting calmly killed on a high 



HO THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

place before the eyes of all. He thought of the 
magnificent pathos of his dead body. 

These thoughts uplifted him. He felt the 
quiver of war desire. In his ears, he heard the 
ring of victory. He knew the frenzy of a rapid 
successful charge. The music of the trampling 
feet, the sharp voices, the clanking arms of the 
column near him made him soar on the red wings 
of war. For a few moments he was sublime. 

He thought that he was about to start for the 
front. Indeed, he saw a picture of himself, dust- 
stained, haggard, panting, flying to the front at 
the proper moment to seize and throttle the dark, 
leering witch of calamity. 

Then the difficulties of the thing began to 
drag at him. He hesitated, balancing awkwardly 
on one foot. 

He had no rifle ; he could not fight with his 
hands, said he resentfully to his plan. Well, 
rifles could be had for the picking. They were 
extraordinarily profuse. 

Also, he continued, it would be a miracle if he 
found his regiment. Well, he could fight with 
any regiment. 

He started forward slowly. He stepped as if 
he expected to tread upon some explosive thing. 
Doubts and he were struggling. 

He would truly be a worm if any of his com- 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. m 

rades should see him returning thus, the marks of 
his flight upon him. There was a reply that the 
intent fighters did not care for what happened 
rearward saving that no hostile bayonets ap- 
peared there. In the battle-blur his face would, 
in a way be hidden, like the face of a cowled 
man. 

But then he said that his tireless fate would 
bring forth, when the strife lulled for a moment, 
a man to ask of him an explanation. In imagina- 
tion he felt the scrutiny of his companions as he 
painfully labored through some lies. 

Eventually, his courage expended itself upon 
these objections. The debates drained him of his 
fire. 

He was not cast down by this defeat of his 
plan, for, upon studying the affair carefully, he 
could not but admit that the objections were very 
formidable. 

Furthermore, various ailments had begun to 
cry out. In their presence he could not persist 
in flying high with the wings of war; they 
rendered it almost impossible for him to see him- 
self in a heroic light. He tumbled headlong. 

He discovered that he had a scorching thirst. 
His face was so dry and grimy that he thought 
he could feel his skin crackle. Each bone of his 
body had an ache in it, and seemingly threatened 

8 



112 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

to break with each movement. His feet were 
like two sores. Also, his body was calling for 
food. It was more powerful than a direct hunger. 
There was a dull, weight like feeling in his stom- 
ach, and, when he tried to walk, his head swayed 
and he tottered. He could not see with distinct- 
ness. Small patches of green mist floated before 
his vision. 

While he had been tossed by many emotions, 
he had not been aware of ailments. Now they 
beset him and made clamor. As he was at last 
compelled to pay attention to them, his capacity 
for self-hate was multiplied. In despair, he 
declared that he was not like those others. He 
now conceded it to be impossible that he should 
ever become a hero. He was a craven loon. 
Those pictures of glory were piteous things. He 
groaned from his heart and went staggering off. 

A certain mothlike quality within him kept 
him in the vicinity of the battle. He had a great 
desire to see, and to get news. He wished to 
know who was winning. 

He told himself that, despite his unprecedented 
suffering, he had never lost his greed for a victory, 
yet, he said, in a half-apologetic manner to his 
conscience, he could not but know that a defeat 
for the army this time might mean many favor- 
able things for him. The blows of the enemy 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. ^3 

would splinter regiments into fragments. Thus, 
many men of courage, he considered, would be 
obliged to desert the colors and scurry like 
chickens. He would appear as one of them. 
They would be sullen brothers in distress, and he 
could then easily believe he had not run any 
farther or faster than they. And if he himself 
could believe in his virtuous perfection, he con- 
ceived that there would be small trouble in con- 
vincing all others. 

He said, as if in excuse for this hope, that 
previously the army had encountered great 
defeats and in a few months had shaken off all 
blood and tradition of them, emerging as bright 
and valiant as a new one ; thrusting out of sight 
the memory of disaster, and appearing with the 
valor and confidence of unconquered legions. 
The shrilling voices of the people at home would 
pipe dismally for a time, but various generals 
were usually compelled to listen to these ditties. 
He of course felt no compunctions for proposing 
a general as a sacrifice. He could not tell who 
the chosen for the barbs might be, so he could 
center no direct sympathy upon him. The 
people were afar and he did not conceive public 
opinion to be accurate at long range. It was 
quite probable they would hit the wrong man 
who, after he had recovered from his amazement 



114 THE RED BADGE O F COURAGE. 

would perhaps spend the rest of his days in writ- 
ing replies to the songs of his alleged failure. It 
would be very unfortunate, no doubt, but in this 
case a general was of no consequence to the 
youth. 

In a defeat there would be a roundabout 
vindication of himself. He thought it would 
prove, in a manner, that he had fled early because 
of his superior powers of perception. A serious 
prophet upon predicting a flood should be the 
first man to climb a tree. This would demon- 
strate that he was indeed a seer. 

A moral vindication was regarded by the 
youth as a very important thing. Without salve, 
he could not, he thought, wear the sore badge of 
his dishonor through life. With his heart con- 
tinually assuring him that he was. despicable, he 
could not exist without making it, through his 
actions, apparent to all men. 

If the army had gone gloriously on he would 
be lost. If the din meant that now his army's 
flags were tilted forward he was a condemned 
wretch. He would be compelled to doom 
himself to isolation. If the men were advancing, 
their indifferent feet were trampling upon his 
chances for a successful life. 

As these thoughts went rapidly through his 
mind, he turned upon them and tried to thrust 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 115 

them away. He denounced himself as a villain. 
He said that he was the most unutterably selfish 
man in existence. His mind pictured the soldiers 
who would place their defiant bodies before the 
spear of the yelling battle fiend, and as he saw 
their dripping corpses on an imagined field, he 
said that he was their murderer. 

Again he thought that he wished he was dead. 
He believed that he envied a corpse. Thinking 
of the slain, he achieved a great contempt for 
some of them, as if they were guilty for thus 
becoming lifeless. They might have been killed 
by lucky chances, he said, before they had had 
opportunities to flee or before they had been 
really tested. Yet they would receive laurels 
from tradition. He cried out bitterly that their 
crowns were stolen and their robes of glori- 
ous memories were shams. However, he still 
said that it was a great pity he was not as 
they. 

A defeat of the army had suggested itself to 
him as a means of escape from the consequences 
of his fall. He considered, now, however, that it 
was useless to think of such a possibility. His 
education had been that success for that mighty 
blue machine was certain ; that it would make 
victories as a contrivance turns out buttons. He 
presently discarded all his speculations in the 



Il6 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

other direction. He returned to the creed of 
soldiers. 

When he perceived again that it was not 
possible for the army to be defeated, he tried 
to bethink him of a fine tale which he could take 
back to his regiment, and with it turn the expected 
shafts of derision. 

But, as he mortally feared these shafts, it 
became impossible for him to invent a tale he felt 
he could trust. He experimented with many 
schemes, but threw them aside one by one as 
flimsy. He was quick to see vulnerable places in 
them all. 

Furthermore, he was much afraid that some 
arrow of scorn might lay him mentally low before 
he could raise his protecting tale. 

He imagined the whole regiment saying: 
"Where's Henry Fleming? He run, didn't 'e? 
Oh, my ! " He recalled various persons who 
would be quite sure to leave him no peace 
about it. They would doubtless question him 
with sneers, and laugh at his stammering hesi- 
tation. In the next engagement they would 
try to keep watch of him to discover when he 
would run. 

Wherever he went in camp, he would en- 
counter insolent and lingeringly cruel stares. As 
he imagined himself passing near a crowd of 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. \\j 

comrades, he could hear some one say, " There 
he goes ! " 

Then, as if the heads were moved by one 
muscle, all the faces were turned toward him 
with wide, derisive grins. He seemed to hear 
some one make a humorous remark in a low tone. 
At it the others all crowed and cackled. He was 
a slang phrase. 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE column that had butted stoutly at the 
obstacles in the roadway was barely out of the 
youth's sight before he saw dark waves of men 
come sweeping out of the woods and down 
through the fields. He knew at once that the 
steel fibers had been washed from their hearts. 
They were bursting from their coats and 
their equipments as from entanglements. They 
charged down upon him like terrified buffaloes. 

Behind them blue smoke curled and clouded 
above the treetops, and through the thickets he 
could sometimes see a distant pink glare. The 
voices of the cannon were clamoring in intermi- 
nable chorus. 

The youth was horrorstricken. He stared 
in agony and amazement. Fie forgot that he 
was engaged in combating the universe. He 
threw aside his mental pamphlets on the philoso- 
phy of the retreated and rules for the guidance 
of the damned. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

The fight was lost. The dragons were com- 
ing with invincible strides. The army, helpless 
in the matted thickets and blinded by the over- 
hanging night, was going to be swallowed. War, 
the red animal, war, the blood-swollen god, would 
have bloated fill. 

Within him something bade to cry out. He 
had the impulse to make a rallying speech, to sing 
a battle hymn, but he could only get his tongue to 
call into the air : " Why why what what 's 
th' matter?" 

Soon he was in the midst of them. They 
were leaping and scampering all about him. 
Their blanched faces shone in the dusk. They 
seemed, for the most part, to be very burly men. 
The youth turned from one to another of them as 
they galloped along. His incoherent questions 
were lost. They were heedless of his appeals. 
They did not seem to see him. 

They sometimes gabbled insanely. One huge 
man was asking of the sky : " Say, where de 
plank road ? Where de plank road ! " It was as if 
he had lost a child. He wept in his pain and 
dismay. 

Presently, men were running hither and 
thither in all ways. The artillery booming, 
forward, rearward, and on the flanks made 
jumble of ideas of direction. Landmarks had 



120 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

vanished into the gathered gloom. The youth 
began to imagine that he had got into the 
center of the tremendous quarrel, and he could 
perceive no way out of it. From the mouths of 
the fleeing men came a thousand wild questions, 
but no one made answers. 

The youth, after rushing about and throwing 
interrogations at the heedless bands of retreating 
infantry, finally clutched a man by the arm. They 
swung around face to face. 

" Why why " stammered the youth strug- 
gling with his balking tongue. 

The man screamed : " Let go me ! Let go 
me ! " His face was livid and his eyes were roll- 
ing uncontrolled. He was heaving and panting. 
He still grasped his rifle, perhaps having for- 
gotten to release his hold upon it. He tugged 
frantically, and the youth being compelled to lean 
forward was dragged several paces. 

" Let go me ! Let go me ! " 

" Why why " stuttered the youth. 

" Well, then ! " bawled the man in a lurid 
rage. He adroitly and fiercely swung his rifle. 
It crushed upon the youth's head The man 
ran on. 

The youth's fingers had turned to paste upon 
the other's arm. The energy was smitten from 
his muscles. He saw the flaming wings of light- 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. I2 i 

ning flash before his vision. There was a deaf- 
ening rumble of thunder within his head. 

Suddenly his legs seemed to die. He sank 
writhing to the ground. He tried to arise. In 
his efforts against the numbing pain he was like a 
man wrestling with a creature of the air. 

There was a sinister struggle. 

Sometimes he would achieve a position half 
erect, battle with the air for a moment, and 
then fall again, grabbing at the grass. His face 
was of a clammy pallor. Deep groans were 
wrenched from him. 

At last, with a twisting movement, he got 
upon his hands and knees, and from thence, like a 
babe trying to walk, to his feet. Pressing his 
hands to his temples he went lurching over the 
grass. 

He fought an intense battle with his body. 
His dulled senses wished him to swoon and he 
opposed them stubbornly, his mind portraying 
unknown dangers and mutilations if he should 
fall upon the field. He went tall soldier fashion. 
He imagined secluded spots where he could fall 
and be unmolested. To search for one he strove 
against the tide of his pain. 

Once he put his hand to the top of his head 
and timidly touched the wound. The scratching 
pain of the contact made him draw a long breath 



122 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

through his clinched teeth. His fingers were 
dabbled with blood. He regarded them with a 
fixed stare. 

Around him he could hear the grumble of 
jolted cannon as the scurrying horses were lashed 
toward the fro'nt. Once, a young officer on a 
besplashed charger nearly ran him down. He 
turned and watched the mass of guns, men, and 
horses sweeping in a wide curve toward a gap in 
a fence. The officer was making excited motions 
with a gauntleted hand. The guns followed the 
teams with an air of unwillingness, of being 
dragged by the heels. 

Some officers of the scattered infantry were 
cursing and railing like fishwives. Their scold- 
ing voices could be heard above the din. Into 
the unspeakable jumble in the roadway rode a 
squadron of cavalry. The faded yellow of their 
facings shone bravely. There was a mighty 
altercation. 

The artillery were assembling as if for a con- 
ference. 

The blue haze of evening was upon the field. 
The lines of forest were long purple shadows. 
One cloud lay along the western sky partly 
smothering the red. 

As the youth left the scene behind him, he 
heard the guns suddenly roar out. He imagined 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



123 



them shaking in black rage. They belched and 
howled like brass devils guarding a gate. The 
soft air was filled with the tremendous remon- 
strance. With it came the shattering peal of 
opposing infantry. Turning to look behind him, 
he could see sheets of orange light illumine the 
shadowy distance. There were subtle and sudden 
lightnings in the far air. At times he thought he 
could see heaving masses of men. 

He hurried on in the dusk. The day had 
faded until he could barely distinguish place for 
his feet. The purple darkness was filled with 
men who lectured and jabbered. Sometimes he 
could see them gesticulating against the blue and 
somber sky. There seemed to be a great ruck of 
men and munitions spread about in the forest and 
in the fields. 

The little narrow roadway now lay lifeless. 
There were overturned wagons like sun-dried 
bowlders. The bed of the former torrent was 
choked with the bodies of horses and splintered 
parts of war machines. 

It had come to pass that his wound pained him 
but little. He was afraid to move rapidly, how- 
ever, for a dread of disturbing it. He held his 
head very still and took many precautions against 
stumbling. He was filled with anxiety, and his 
face was pinched and drawn in anticipation of the 



124 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



pain of any sudden mistake of his feet in the 
gloom. 

His thoughts, as he walked, fixed intently 
upon his hurt. There was a cool, liquid feeling 
about it and he imagined blood moving slowly 
down under his hair. His head seemed swollen 
to a size that made him think his neck to be 
inadequate. 

The new silence of his wound made much 
worriment. The little blistering voices of pain 
that had called out from his scalp were, he 
thought, definite in their expression of danger. 
By them he believed that he could measure his 
plight. But when they remained ominously 
silent he became frightened and imagined ter- 
rible fingers that clutched into his brain. 

Amid it he began to reflect upon various 
incidents and conditions of the past. He be- 
thought him of certain meals his mother had 
cooked at home, in which those dishes of which 
he was particularly fond had occupied prominent 
positions. He saw the spread table. The pine 
walls of the kitchen were glowing in the warm 
light from the stove. Too, he remembered how 
he and his companions used to go from the school- 
house to the bank of a shaded pool. He saw his 
clothes in disorderly array upon the grass of the 
bank. He felt the swash of the fragrant water 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



125 



upon his body. The leaves of the overhanging 
maple rustled with melody in the wind of youth- 
ful summer. 

He was overcome presently by a dragging 
weariness. His head hung forward and his 
shoulders were stooped as if he were bearing a 
great bundle. His feet shuffled along the 
ground. 

He held continuous arguments as to whether 
he should lie down and sleep at some near spot, 
or force himself on until he reached a certain 
haven. He often tried to dismiss the question, 
but his body persisted in rebellion and his senses 
nagged at him like pampered babies. 

At last he heard a cheery voice near his 
shoulder : " Yeh seem t' be in a pretty bad way, 
boy?" 

The youth did not look up, but he assented 
with thick tongue. *' Uh ! " 

The owner of the cheery voice took him firmly 
by the arm. " Well," he said, with a round 
laugh, " I'm goin' your way. Th' hull gang is 
goin' your way. An' I guess I kin give yeh a 
lift." They began to walk like a drunken man 
and his friend. 

As they went along, the man questioned the 
youth and assisted him with the replies like one 
manipulating the mind of a child. Sometimes he 



126 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

interjected anecdotes. " What reg'ment do yeh 
b'long teh? Eh? What's that? Th' 3O4th N' 
York ? Why, what corps is that in ? Oh, it is ? 
Why, I thought they wasn't engaged t'-day 
they 're 'way over in th' center. Oh, they was, 
eh ? Well, pretty nearly everybody got their 
share 'a fightin' t'-day. By dad, I give myself up 
fer dead any number 'a times. There was shootin* 
here an* shootin' there, an* hollerin' here an' 
hollerin' there, in th' damn' darkness, until I 
couldn't tell t' save m' soul which side I was on. 
Sometimes I thought I was sure 'nough from 
Ohier, an' other times I could 'a swore I was 
from th' bitter end of Florida. It was th' most 
mixed up dern thing I ever see. An' these here 
hull woods is a reg'lar mess. It '11 be a miracle 
if we find our reg'ments t'-night. Pretty soon, 
though, we '11 meet a-plenty of guards an' provost- 
guards, an' one thing an' another. Ho ! there they 
go with an off'cer, I guess. Look at his hand 
a-draggin'. He 's got all th' war he wants, I bet. 
He won't be talkin' so big about his reputation 
an* all when they go t' sawin' off his leg. Poor 
feller ! My brother 's got whiskers jest like that. 
How did yeh git 'way over here, anyhow ? Your 
reg'ment is a long way from here, ain't it ? Well, 
I guess we can find it. Yeh know there was a 
boy killed in my comp'ny t'-day that I thought 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. I2 ^ 

th' world an* all of. Jack was a nice feller. By 
ginger, it hurt like thunder t' see ol' Jack jest git 
knocked flat. We was a-standin' purty peaceable 
fer a spell, 'though there was men runnin' ev'ry 
way all 'round us, an' while we was a-standin' 
like that, 'long come a big fat feller. He began 
t' peck at Jack's elbow, an' he ses : ' Say, where 's 
th' road t' th' river? ' An' Jack, he never paid no 
attention, an' th' feller kept on a-peckin' at his 
elbow an' sayin' : ' Say, where 's th' road t' th' 
river?' Jack was a-lookin' ahead all th' time 
tryin' t' see th' Johnnies comin' through th' 
woods, an' he never paid no attention t' this big 
fat feller fer a long time, but at last he turned 
'round an' he ses : ' Ah, go t' hell an' find th' 
road t' th' river ! ' An' jest then a shot slapped 
him bang on th' side th' head. He was a sergeant, 
too. Them was his last words. Thunder, I wish 
we was sure 'a findin' our reg'ments t'-night. It 's 
goin' t' be long huntin'. But I guess we kin 
do it." 

In the search which followed, the man of the 
cheery voice seemed to the youth to possess a 
wand of a magic kind. He threaded the mazes 
of the tangled forest with a strange fortune. In 
encounters with guards and patrols he displayed 
the keenness of a detective and the valor of a 
gamin. Obstacles fell before him and became of 



128 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

assistance. The youth, with his chin still on his 
breast, stood woodenly by while his companion 
beat ways and means out of sullen things. 

The forest seemed a vast hive of men buzzing 
about in frantic circles, but the cheery man con- 
ducted the youth without mistakes, until at last 
he began to chuckle with glee and self-satisfaction. 
" Ah, there yeh are ! See that fire ? " 
The youth nodded stupidly. 
" Well, there 's where your reg'ment is. An' 
now, good-by, ol' boy, good luck t' yeh." 

A warm and strong hand clasped the youth's 
languid fingers for an instant, and then he heard 
a cheerful and audacious whistling as the man 
strode away. As he who had so befriended him 
was thus passing out of his life, it suddenly oc- 
curred to the youth that he had not once seen his 
face. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

THE youth went slowly toward the fire in- 
dicated by his departed friend. As he reeled, he 
bethought him of the welcome his comrades 
would give him. He had a conviction that he 
would soon feel in his sore heart the barbed 
missiles of ridicule. He had no strength to in- 
vent a tale ; he would be a soft target. 

He made vague plans to go off into the deeper 
darkness and hide, but they were all destroyed 
by the voices of exhaustion and pain from his 
body. His ailments, clamoring, forced him to 
seek the place of food and rest, at whatever cost. 

He swung unsteadily toward the fire. He 
could see the forms of men throwing black 
shadows in the red light, and as he went nearer 
it became known to him in some way that the 
ground was strewn with sleeping men. 

Of a sudden he confronted a black and 
monstrous figure. A rifle barrel caught some 
glinting beams. " Halt ! halt ! " He was dis- 



1 3 o 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



mayed for a moment, but he presently thought 
that he recognzied the nervous voice. As he 
stood tottering before the rifle barrel, he called 
out : " Why, hello, Wilson, you you here ? " 

The rifle was lowered to a position of caution 
and the loud soldier came slowly forward. He 
peered into the youth's face. "That you, 
Henry?" 

" Yes, it's it's me." 

"Well, well, ol' boy," said the other, "by 
ginger, I'm glad t' see yeh ! I give yeh up 
fer a goner. I thought yeh was dead sure 
enough." There was husky emotion in his 
voice. 

The youth found that now he could barely 
stand upon his feet. There was a sudden sinking 
of his forces. He thought he must hasten to pro- 
duce his tale to protect him from the missiles 
already at the lips of his redoubtable comrades. 
So, staggering before the loud soldier, he began : 
" Yes, yes. I've I've had an awful time. I've 
been all over. Way over on th' right. Ter'ble 
fightin' over there. I had an awful time. 1 got 
separated from th' reg'ment. Over on th' right, 
I got shot. In th' head. I never see sech 
fightin'. Awful time. I don't see how I could a' 
got separated from th' reg'ment. I got shot, 
too." 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. j^ 

His friend had stepped forward quickly. 
"What? Got shot? Why didn't yeh say so 
first? Poor oF boy, we must hoi' on a minnit; 
what am I doin'. I'll call Simpson." 

Another figure at that moment loomed in the 
gloom. They could see that it was the corporal. 
" Who yeh talkin' to, Wilson ?" he demanded. 
His voice was anger-toned. " Who yeh talkin' 
to? Yeh th' derndest sentinel why hello, 
Henry, you here ? Why, I thought you was 
dead four hours ago ! Great Jerusalem, they 
keep turnin' up every ten minutes or so! We 
thought we'd lost forty-two men by straight 
count, but if they keep on a-comin' this way, we'll 
git th' comp'ny all back by mornin' yit. Where 
was yeh?" 

" Over on th' right. I got separated " began 
the youth with considerable glibness. 

But his friend had interrupted hastily. " Yes, 
an* he got shot in th' head an' he's in a fix, an' we 
must see t* him right away." He rested his rifle 
in the hollow of his left arm and his right around 
the youth's shoulder. 

" Gee, it must hurt like thunder ! " he said. 

The youth leaned heavily upon his friend. 
"Yes, it hurts hurts a good deal," he replied. 
There was a faltering in his voice. 

" Oh," said the corporal. He linked his arm 



132 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



in the youth's and drew him forward. " Come 
on, Henry. I'll take keer 'a yeh." 

As they went on together the loud private 
called out after them : " Put 'im t' sleep in my 
blanket, Simpson. An' hoi' on a minnit here's 
my canteen. It's full 'a coffee. Look at his head 
by th' fire an' see how it looks. Maybe it's a 
pretty bad un. When I git relieved in a couple 
'a minnits, I'll be over an' see t' him." 

The youth's senses were so deadened that his 
friend's voice sounded from afar and he could 
scarcely feel the pressure of the corporal's arm. 
He submitted passively to the latter's directing 
strength. His head was in the old manner hang- 
ing forward upon his breast. His knees wobbled. 

The corporal led him into the glare of the 
fire. " Now, Henry," he said, " let's have look at 
yer ol' head." 

The youth sat down obediently and the cor- 
poral, laying aside his rifle, began to fumble in the 
bushy hair of his comrade. He was obliged to 
turn the other's head so that the full flush of the 
fire light would beam upon it. He puckered his 
mouth with a critical air. He draw back his lips 
and whistled through his teeth when his fingers 
came in contact with the splashed blood and the 
rare wound. 

" Ah, here we are ! " he said. He awkwardly 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 133 

made further investigations. " Jest as I thought," 
he added, presently. " Yeh've been grazed by a 
ball. It's raised a queer lump jest as if some 
feller had lammed yeh on th' head with a club. 
It stopped a-bleedin' long time ago. Th' most 
about it is that in th' mornin' yeh'll feel that a 
number ten hat wouldn't fit yeh. An' your 
head'll be all het up an' feel as dry as burnt pork. 
An' yeh may git a lot 'a other sicknesses, too, by 
mornin'. Yeh can't never tell. Still, I don't 
much think so. It's jest a damn' good belt on th' 
head, an' nothin' more. Now, you jest sit here 
an' don't move, while I go rout out th' relief. 
Then I'll send Wilson t' take keer 'a yeh." 

The corporal went away. The youth re- 
mained on the ground like a parcel. He stared 
with a vacant look into the fire. 

After a time he aroused, for some part, and 
the things about him began to take form. He 
saw that the ground in the deep shadows was 
cluttered with men, sprawling in every con- 
ceivable posture. Glancing narrowly into the 
more distant darkness, he caught occasional 
glimpses of visages that loomed pallid and 
ghostly, lit with a phosphorescent glow. These 
faces expressed in their lines the deep stupor of 
the tired soldiers. They made them appear like 
men drunk with wine. This bit of forest might 



134 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



have appeared to an ethereal wanderer as a scene 
of the result of some frightful debauch. 

On the other side of the fire the youth 
observed an officer asleep, seated bolt upright, 
with his back against a tree. There was some- 
thing perilous in his position. Badgered by 
dreams, perhaps, he swayed with little bounces 
and starts, like an old, toddy-stricken grandfather 
in a chimney corner. Dust and stains were upon 
his face. His lower jaw hung down as if lacking 
strength to assume its normal position. He was 
the picture of an exhausted soldier after a feast of 
war. 

He had evidently gone to sleep with his 
sword in his arms. These two had slumbered in 
an embrace, but the weapon had been allowed 
in time to fall unheeded to the ground. The 
brass-mounted hilt lay in contact with some parts 
of the fire. 

Within the gleam of rose and orange light 
from the burning sticks were other soldiers, 
snoring and heaving, or lying deathlike in 
slumber. A few pairs of legs were stuck forth, 
rigid and straight. The shoes displayed the mud 
or dust of marches and bits of rounded trousers, 
protruding from the blankets, showed rents and 
tears from hurried pitchings through the dense 
brambles. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



135 



The fire crackled musically. From it swelled 
light smoke. Overhead the foliage moved 
softly. The leaves, with their faces turned 
toward the blaze, were colored shifting hues of 
silver, often edged with red. Far off to the right, 
through a window in the forest could be seen a 
handful of stars lying, like glittering pebbles, on 
the black level of the night. 

Occasionally, in this low-arched hall, a soldier 
would arouse and turn his body to a new posi- 
tion, the experience of his sleep having taught 
him of uneven and objectionable places upon the 
ground under him. Or, perhaps, he would lirt 
himself to a sitting posture, blink at the fire for 
an unintelligent moment, throw a swift glance at 
his prostrate companion, and then cuddle down 
again with a grunt of sleepy content. 

The youth sat in a forlorn heap until his 
friend the loud young soldier came, swinging two 
canteens by their light strings. " Well, now, 
Henry, ol' boy," said the latter, " we'll have yeh 
fixed up in jest about a minnit." 

He had the bustling ways of an amateur 
nurse. He fussed around the fire and stirred the 
sticks to brilliant exertions. He made his patient 
drink largely from the canteen that contained the 
coffee. It was to the youth a delicious draught. 
He tilted his head afar back and held the canteen 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



long to his lips. The cool mixture went caress- 
ingly down his blistered throat. Having finished, 
he sighed with comfortable delight. 

The loud young soldier watched his comrade 
with an air of satisfaction. He later produced 
an extensive handkerchief from his pocket. He 
folded it into a manner of bandage and soused 
water from the other canteen upon the middle of 
it. This crude arrangement he bound over the 
youth's head, tying the ends in a queer knot at 
the back of the neck. 

" There," he said, moving off and surveying 
his deed, " yeh look like th' devil, but I bet yeh 
feel better." 

The youth contemplated his friend with grate- 
ful eyes. Upon his aching and swelling head the 
cold cloth was like a tender woman's hand. 

" Yeh don't holler ner say nothin'," remarked 
his friend approvingly. " I know I'm a black- 
smith at takin' keer 'a sick folks, an' yeh never 
squeaked. Yer a good un, Henry. Most 'a men 
would a' been in th' hospital long ago. A shot in 
th' head ain't foolin' business.'' 

The youth made no reply, but began to fumble 
with the buttons of his jacket. 

" Well, come, now," continued his friend, 
" come on. I must put yeh t' bed an' see that yeh 
git a good night's rest." 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



137 



The other got carefully erect, and the loud 
young soldier led him among the sleeping forms 
lying in groups and rows. Presently he stooped 
and picked up his blankets. He spread the rubber 
one upon the ground and placed the woolen one 
about the youth's shoulders. 

" There now," he said, " lie down an' git some 
sleep." 

The youth, with his manner of doglike obe- 
dience, got carefully down like a crone stoop- 
ing. He stretched out with a murmur of relief 
and comfort. The ground felt like the softest 
couch. 

But of a sudden he ejaculated : " Hoi' on a 
minnit ! Where you goin' t* sleep ? " 

His friend waved his hand impatiently. 
" Right down there by yeh." 

" Well, but hoi' on a minnit," continued the 
youth. " What yeh goin' t' sleep in ? I've got 
your " 

The loud young soldier snarled: "Shet up 
an' go on t' sleep. Don't be makin' a damn' fool 
'a yerself," he said severely. 

After the reproof the youth said no more. 
An exquisite drowsiness had spread through him. 
The warm comfort of the blanket enveloped him 
and made a gentle languor. His head fell for- 
ward on his crooked arm and his weighted lids 



138 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

went softly down over his eyes. Hearing a 
splatter of musketry from the distance, he 
wondered indifferently if those men sometimes 
slept. He gave a long sigh, snuggled down into 
his blanket, and in a moment was like his com- 
rades. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

WHEN the youth awoke it seemed to him that 
he had been asleep for a thousand years, and he 
felt sure that he opened his eyes upon an unex- 
pected world. Gray mists were slowly shifting 
before the first efforts of the sun rays. An im- 
pending splendor could be seen in the eastern 
sky. An icy dew had chilled his face, and im- 
mediately upon arousing he curled farther down 
into his blanket. He stared for a while at the 
leaves overhead, moving in a heraldic wind of 
the day. 

The distance was splintering and blaring with 
the noise of fighting. There was in the sound 
an expression of a deadly persistency, as if it had 
not begun and was not to cease. 

About him were the rows and groups of men 
that he had dimly seen the previous night. They 
were getting a last draught of sleep before the 
awakening. The gaunt, careworn features and 
dusty figures were made plain by this quaint 



140 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



light at the dawning, but it dressed the skin of 
the men in corpselike hues and made the tangled 
limbs appear pulseless and dead. The youth 
started up with a little cry when his eyes first 
swept over this motionless mass of men, thick- 
spread upon the ground, pallid, and in strange 
postures. His disordered mind interpreted the 
hall of the forest as a charnel place. He believed 
for an instant that he was in the house of the 
dead, and he did not dare to move lest these 
corpses start up, squalling and squawking. In a 
second, however, he achieved his proper mind. 
He swore a complicated oath at himself. He 
saw that this somber picture was not a fact of 
the present, but a mere prophecy. 

He heard then the noise of a fire crackling 
briskly in the cold air, and, turning h'is head, he 
saw his friend pottering busily about a small 
blaze. A few other figures moved in the fog, and 
he heard the hard cracking of axe blows. 

Suddenly there was a hollow rumble of 
drums. A distant bugle sang faintly. Similar 
sounds, varying in strength, came from near and 
far over the forest. The bugles called to each 
other like brazen gamecocks. The near thunder 
of the regimental drums rolled. 

The body of men in the woods rustled. There 
was a general uplifting of heads. A murmuring 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 141 

of voices broke upon the air. In it there was 
much bass of grumbling oaths. Strange gods 
were addressed in condemnation of the early 
hours necessary to correct war. An officer's 
peremptory tenor rang out and quickened the 
stiffened movement of the men. The tangled 
limbs unraveled. The corpse-hued faces were 
hidden behind fists that twisted slowly in the eye 
sockets. 

The youth sat up and gave vent to an enormous 
yawn. " Thunder ! " he remarked petulantly. 
He rubbed his eyes, and then putting up his hand 
felt carefully of the bandage over his wound. 
His friend, perceiving him to be awake, came 
from the fire. "Well, Henry, ol' man, how do 
yeh feel this mornin'?" he demanded. 

The youth yawned again. Then he puckered 
his mouth to a little pucker. His head, in truth, 
felt precisely like a melon, and there was an un- 
pleasant sensation at his stomach. 

" Oh, Lord, I feel pretty bad," he said. 

"Thunder!" exclaimed the other. "I hoped 
ye'd feel all right this mornin'. Let's see th' 
bandage I guess it's slipped." He began to 
tinker at the wound in rather a clumsy way until 
the youth exploded. 

" Gosh-dern it!" he said in sharp irritation ; 
" you're the hangdest man I ever saw ! You 



142 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

wear muffs on your hands. Why in good 
thunderation can't you be more easy? I'd rather 
you'd stand off an' throw guns at it. Now, go 
slow, an' don't act as if you was nailing down 
carpet." 

He glared with insolent command at his 
friend, but the latter answered soothingly. 
" Weil, well, come now, an' git some grub," he 
said. " Then, maybe, yeh'll feel better." 

At the fireside the loud young soldier 
watched over his comrade's wants with tender- 
ness and care. He was very busy marshaling 
the little black vagabonds of tin cups and pour- 
ing into them the streaming, iron colored mixture 
from a small .and sooty tin pail. He had some 
fresh meat, which he roasted hurriedly upon a 
stick. He sat down then and contemplated the 
youth's appetite with glee. 

The youth took note of a remarkable change 
in his comrade since those days of camp life upon 
the river bank. He seemed no more to be con- 
tinually regarding the proportions of his personal 
prowess. He was not furious at small words that 
pricked his conceits. He was no more a loud 
young soldier. There was about him now a 
fine reliance. He showed a quiet belief in 
his purposes and his abilities. And this in- 
ward confidence evidently enabled him to be 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. j^ 

indifferent to little words of other men aimed 
at him. 

The youth reflected. He had been used to 
regarding his comrade as a blatant child with an 
audacity grown from his inexperience, thought- 
less, headstrong, jealous, and filled with a tinsel 
courage. A swaggering babe accustomed to strut 
in his own dooryard. The youth wondered 
where had been born these new eyes ; when his 
comrade had made the great discovery that 
there were many men who would refuse to be 
subjected by him. Apparently, the other had 
now climbed a peak of wisdom from which he 
could perceive himself as a very wee thing. And 
the youth saw that ever after it would be easier 
to live in his friend's neighborhood. 

His comrade balanced his ebony coffee-cup on 
his knee. " Well, Henry," he said, " what d'yeh 
think th' chances are? D'yeh think we'll wal- 
lop 'em?" 

The youth considered for a moment. " Day- 
b'fore-yesterday," he finally replied, with boldness, 
" you would 'a' bet you'd lick the hull kit-an'- 
boodle all by yourself." 

His friend looked a trifle amazed. " Would 
I ? " he asked. He pondered. " Well, perhaps I 
would," he decided at last. He stared humbly at 

the fire. 

10 



144 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



The youth was quite disconcerted at this sur, 
prising reception of his remarks. " Oh, no, you 
wouldn't either," he said, hastily trying to re- 
trace. 

But the other made a deprecating gesture. 
" Oh, yeh needn't mind, Henry," he said. " I be- 
lieve I was a pretty big fool in those days." He 
spoke as after a lapse of years. 

There was a little pause. 

"All th' officers say we've got th' rebs in 
a pretty tight box," said the friend, clearing 
his throat in a commonplace way. " They all 
seem t' think we've got 'em jest where we 
want 'em." 

" I don't know about that," the youth replied. 
" What I seen over on th' right makes me think 
it was th' other way about. From where I was, 
it looked as if we was gettin' a good poundin' 
yestirday." 

"D'yeh think so?" inquired the friend. "I 
thought we handled 'em pretty rough yestir- 
day." 

"Not a bit," said the youth. "Why, lord, 
man, you didn't see nothing of the fight. Why ! " 
Then a sudden thought came to him. " Oh ! 
Jim Conklin's dead." 

His friend started. "What? Is he? Jim 
Conklin?" 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. i^ 

The youth spoke slowly. " Yes. He's dead. 
Shot in th' side." 

" Yeh don't say so. Jim Conklin. . . . poor 
cuss!" 

All about them were other small fires sur- 
rounded by men with their little black utensils. 
From one of these near came sudden sharp 
voices in a row. It appeared that two light- 
footed soldiers had been teasing a huge, bearded 
man, causing him to spill coffee upon his blue 
knees. The man had gone into a rage and had 
sworn comprehensively. Stung by his language, 
his tormentors had immediately bristled at him 
with a great show of resenting unjust oaths. 
Possibly there was going to be a fight. 

The friend arose and went over to them, mak- 
ing pacific motions with his arms. " Oh, here, 
now, boys, what's th' use?" he said. "We'll 
be at th' rebs in less'n an hour. What's th' 
good fightin' 'mong ourselves?" 

One of the light-footed soldiers turned upon 
him red-faced and violent. " Yeh needn't come 
around here with yer preachin*. I s'pose yeh 
don't approve 'a fightin' since Charley Morgan 
licked yeh ; but I don't see what business this 
here is 'a yours or anybody else." 

" Well, it ain't," said the friend mildly. " Still 
I hate t' see " 



146 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

There was a tangled argument. 

" Well, he ," said the two, indicating their 

opponent with accusative forefingers. 

The huge soldier was quite purple with rage. 
He pointed at the two soldiers with his great 
hand, extended clawlike. " Well, they " 

But during this argumentative time the de- 
sire to deal blows seemed to pass, although they 
said much to each other. Finally the friend re- 
turned to his old seat. In a short while the 
three antagonists could be seen together in an 
amiable bunch. 

"Jimmie Rogers ses I'll have t' fight him 
after th' battle t'-day," announced the friend as 
he again seated himself. " He ses he don't 
allow no interferin* in his business. I hate t' see 
th' boys fightin' 'mong themselves." 

The youth laughed. " Yer changed a good 
bit. Yeh ain't at all like yeh was. I remember 

when you an' that Irish feller He stopped 

and laughed again. 

"No, I didn't use t' be that way," said his 
friend thoughtfully. " That's true 'nough." 

" Well; I didn't mean " began the youth. 

The friend made another deprecatory gesture. 
" Oh, yeh needn't mind, Henry." 

There was another little pause. 

" Th' reg'ment lost over half th' men yestir- 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 147- 

day," remarked the friend eventually. " I thought 
a course they was all dead, but, laws, they kep' 
a-comin' back last night until it seems, after all, 
we didn't lose but a few. They'd been scattered 
all over, wanderin* around in th' woods, fightin' 
with other reg'ments, an' everything. Jest like 
you done." 

"So?" said the youth. 



CHAPTER XV. 

THE regiment was standing at order arms at 
the side of a lane, waiting for the command to 
march, when suddenly the youth remembered 
the little packet enwrapped in a faded yellow 
envelope which the loud young soldier with lugu- 
brious words had intrusted to him. It made him 
start. He uttered an exclamation and turned 
toward his comrade. 

" Wilson ! " 

"What?" 

His friend, at his side in the ranks, was thought- 
fully staring down the road. From some cause 
his expression was at that moment very meek. 
The youth, regarding him with sidelong glances, 
felt impelled to change his purpose. " Oh, noth- 
ing," he said. 

His friend turned his head in some surprise, 
" Why, what was yeh goin' t' say ? " 

" Oh, nothing," repeated the youth. 

He resolved not to deal the little blow. It 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



149 



was sufficient that the fact made him glad. It 
was not necessary to knock his friend on the head 
with the misguided packet. 

He had been possessed of much fear of his 
friend, for he saw how easily questionings could 
make holes in his feelings. Lately, he had as- 
sured himself that the altered comrade would not 
tantalize him with a persistent curiosity, but he 
felt certain that during the first period of leisure 
his friend would ask him to relate his adventures 
of the previous day. 

He now rejoiced in the possession of a small 
weapon with which he could prostrate his com- 
rade at the first signs of a cross-examination. He 
was master. It would now be he who could 
laugh and shoot the shafts of derision. 

The friend had, in a weak hour, spoken with 
sobs of his own death. He had delivered a mel- 
ancholy oration previous to his funeral, and had 
doubtless in the packet of letters, presented vari- 
ous keepsakes to relatives. But he had not died, 
and thus he had delivered himself into the hands 
of the youth. 

The latter felt immensely superior to his 
friend, but he inclined to condescension. He 
adopted toward him an air of patronizing good 
humor. 

His self-pride was now entirely restored. In 



150 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

the shade of its flourishing growth he stood with 
braced and self-confident legs, and since nothing 
could now be discovered he did not shrink from 
an encounter with the eyes of judges, and allowed 
no thoughts of his own to keep him from an 
attitude of manfulness. He had performed his 
mistakes in the dark, so he was still a man. 

Indeed, when he remembered his fortunes of 
yesterday, and looked at them from a distance he 
began to see something fine there. He had 
license to be pompous and veteranlike. 

His panting agonies of the past he put out of 
his sight. 

In the present, he declared to himself that it 
was only the doomed and the damned who roared 
with sincerity at circumstance. Few but they 
ever did it. A man with a full stomach and the 
respect of his fellows had no business to scold 
about anything that he might think to be wrong 
in the ways of the universe, or even with the 
ways of society. Let the unfortunates rail ; the 
others may play marbles. 

He did not give a great deal of thought to 
these battles that lay directly before him. It was 
not essential that he should plan his ways in 
regard to them. He had been taught that many 
obligations of a life were easily avoided. The 
lessons of yesterday had been that retribution 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 151 

was a laggard and blind. With these facts before 
him he did not deem it necessary that he should 
become feverish over the possibilities of the 
ensuing twenty-four hours. He could leave 
much to chance. Besides, a faith in himself had 
secretly blossomed. There was a little flower of 
confidence growing within him. He was now a 
man of experience. He had been out among the 
dragons, he said, and he assured himself that they 
were not so hideous as he had imagined them. 
Also, they were inaccurate ; they did not sting 
with precision. A stout heart often defied, and 
defying, escaped. 

And, furthermore, how could they kill him 
who was the chosen of gods and doomed to 
greatness ? 

He remembered how some of the men had 
run from the battle. As he recalled their terror- 
struck faces he felt a scorn for them. They had 
surely been more fleet and more wild than was 
absolutely necessary. They were weak mortals. 
As for himself, he had fled with discretion and 
dignity. 

He was aroused from this reverie by his 
friend, who, having hitched about nervously and 
blinked at the trees for a time, suddenly coughed 
in, an introductory way, and spoke. 

" Fleming ! " 



!52 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

" What ? " 

The friend put his hand up to his mouth and 
coughed again. He fidgeted in his jacket. 

" Well," he gulped, at last, " I guess yeh might 
as well give me back them letters." Dark, prick- 
ling blood had flushed into his cheeks and brow. 

"All right, Wilson," said the youth. He 
loosened two buttons of his coat, thrust in his 
hand, and brought forth the packet. As he ex- 
tended it to his friend the latter's face was turned 
from him. 

He had been slow in the act of producing the 
packet because during it he had been trying to 
invent a remarkable comment upon the affair. 
He could conjure nothing of sufficient point. He 
was compelled to allow his friend to escape 
unmolested with his packet. And for this he 
took unto himself considerable credit. It was a 
generous thing. 

His friend at his side seemed suffering great 
shame. As he contemplated him, the youth felt 
his heart grow more strong and stout. He had 
never been compelled to blush in such manner 
for his acts; he was an individual of extraordi- 
nary virtues. 

He reflected, with condescending pity : " Too 
bad ! Too bad ! The poor devil, it makes him 
feel tough ! " 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. ^3 

After this incident, and as he reviewed the 
battle pictures he had seen, he felt quite com- 
petent to return home and make the hearts of 
the people glow with stories of war. He could 
see himself in a room of warm tints telling tales 
to listeners. He could exhibit laurels. They 
were insignificant ; still, in a district where 
laurels were infrequent, they might shine. 

He saw his gaping audience picturing him as 
the central figure in blazing scenes. And he 
imagined the consternation and the ejaculations 
of his mother and the young lady at the seminary 
as they drank his recitals. Their vague feminine 
formula for beloved ones doing brave deeds on 
the field of battle without risk of life would be 
destroyed. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

A SPUTTERING of musketry was always to be 
heard. Later, the cannon had entered the dis- 
pute. In the fog-filled air their voices made a 
thudding sound. The reverberations were con- 
tinued. This part of the world led a strange, 
battleful existence. 

The youth's regiment was marched to relieve 
a command that had lain long in some damp 
trenches. The men took positions behind a curv- 
ing line of rifle pits that had been turned up, like 
a large furrow, along the line of woods. Before 
them was a level stretch, peopled with short, 
deformed stumps. From the woods beyond 
came the dull popping of the skirmishers and 
pickets, firing in the fog. From the right came 
the noise of a terrific fracas. 

The men cuddled behind the small embank- 
ment and sat in easy attitudes awaiting their 
turn. Many had their backs to the firing. The 
youth's friend lay down, buried his face in his 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. ^5 

arms, and almost instantly, it seemed, he was in a 
deep sleep. 

The youth leaned his breast against the 
brown dirt and peered over at the woods and up 
and down the line. Curtains of trees interfered 
with his ways of vision. He could see the low 
line of trenches but for a short distance. A few 
idle flags were perched on the dirt hills. Behind 
them were rows of dark bodies with a few heads 
sticking curiously over the top. 

Always the noise of skirmishers came from 
the woods on the front and left, and the din on 
the right had grown to frightful proportions. 
The guns were roaring without an instant's pause 
for breath. It seemed that the cannon had come 
from all parts and were engaged in a stupendous 
wrangle. It became impossible to make a sen- 
tence heard. 

The youth wished to launch a joke a quota- 
tion from newspapers. He desired to say, " All 
quiet on the Rappahannock," but the guns refused 
to permit even a comment upon their uproar. 
He never successfully concluded the sentence. 
But at last the guns stopped, and among the 
men in the rifle pits rumors again flew, like birds, 
but they were now for the most part black 
creatures who flapped their wings drearily near 
to the ground and refused to rise on any wings of 



156 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

hope. The men's faces grew doleful from the 
interpreting of omens. Tales of hesitation and 
uncertainty on the part of those high in place and 
responsibility came to their ears. Stories of 
disaster were borne into their minds with many 
proofs. This din of musketry on the right, grow- 
ing like a released genie of sound, expressed and 
emphasized the army's plight. 

The men were disheartened and began to 
mutter. They made gestures expressive of the 
sentence : "Ah, what more can we do?" And it 
could always be seen that they were bewildered 
by the alleged news and could not fully compre- 
hend a defeat. 

Before the gray mists had been totally ob- 
literated by the sun rays, the regiment was march- 
ing in a spread column that was retiring carefully 
through the woods. The disordered, hurrying 
lines of the enemy could sometimes be seen down 
through the groves and little fields. They were 
yelling, shrill and exultant. 

At this sight the youth forgot many personal 
matters and became greatly enraged. He ex- 
ploded in loud sentences. " B'jiminey, we're 
generaled by a lot 'a lunkheads." 

" More than one feller has said that t'-day," 
observed a man. 

His friend, recently aroused, was still very 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



157 



drowsy. He looked behind him until his mind 
took in the meaning of the movement. Then he 
sighed. "Oh, well, I s'pose we got licked," he 
remarked sadly. 

The youth had a thought that it would not be 
handsome for him to freely condemn other men. 
He made an attempt to restrain himself, but the 
words upon his tongue were too bitter. He 
presently began a long and intricate denunciation 
of the commander of the forces. 

"Mebbe, it wa'n't all his fault not all to- 
gether. He did th' best he knowed. It's our 
luck t' git licked often," said his friend in a weary 
tone. He was trudging along with stooped 
shoulders and shifting eyes like a man who has 
been caned and kicked. 

" Well, don't we fight like the devil ? Don't 
we do all that men can?" demanded the youth 
loudly. 

He was secretly dumfounded at this sentiment 
when it came from his lips. For a moment his 
face lost its valor and he looked guiltily about 
him. But no one questioned his right to deal in 
such words, and presently he recovered his air 
of courage. He went on to repeat a statement 
he had heard going from group to group at the 
camp that morning. " The brigadier said he 
never saw a new reg'ment fight the way we 



158 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

fought yestirday, didn't he? And we didn't do 
better than many another reg'ment, did we? 
Well, then, you can't say it's th' army's fault, can 
you ?" 

In his reply, the friend's voice was stern. " ' A 
course not," he said. " No man dare say we 
don't fight like th' devil. No man will ever dare 
say it. Th' boys fight like hell-roosters. But 
still still, we don't have no luck." 

"Well, then, if we fight like the devil an' 
don't ever whip, it must be the general's fault," 
said the youth grandly and decisively. " And I 
don't see any sense in fighting and fighting and 
fighting, yet always losing through some derned 
old lunkhead of a general." 

A sarcastic man who was tramping at the 
youth's side, then spoke lazily. " Mebbe yeh 
think yeh fit th' hull battle yestirday, Fleming," 
he remarked. 

The speech pierced the youth. Inwardly he 
was reduced to an abject pulp by these chance 
words. His legs quaked privately. He cast a 
frightened glance at the sarcastic man. 

" Why, no," he hastened to say in a concili- 
ating voice, " I don't think I fought the whole 
battle yesterday." 

But the other seemed innocent of any deeper 
meaning. Apparently, he had no information. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



159 



It was merely his habit. " Oh ! " he replied in the 
same tone of calm derision. 

The youth, nevertheless, felt a threat. His 
mind shrank from going near to the danger, and 
thereafter he was silent. The significance of the 
sarcastic man's words took from him all loud 
moods that would make him appear prominent. 
He became suddenly a modest person. 

There was low-toned talk among the troops. 
The officers were impatient and snappy, their 
countenances clouded with the tales of misfor- 
tune. The troops, sifting through the forest, 
were sullen. In the youth's company once a 
man's laugh rang out. A dozen soldiers turned 
their faces quickly toward him and frowned with 
vague displeasure. 

The noise of firing dogged their footsteps. 
Sometimes, it seemed to be driven a little way, 
but it always returned again with increased 
insolence. The men muttered and cursed, 
throwing black looks in its direction. 

In a clear space the troops were at last halted. 
Regiments and brigades, broken and detached 
through their encounters with thickets, grew 
together again and lines were faced toward the 
pursuing bark of the enemy's infantry. 

This noise, following like the yellings of eager, 

metallic hounds, increased to a loud and joyous 
ii 



l6o THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

burst, and then, as the sun went serenely up the 
sky, throwing illuminating rays into the gloomy 
thickets, it broke forth into prolonged pealings. 
The woods began to crackle as if afire. 

" Whoop-a-dadee," said a man, " here we are ! 
Everybody fightin'. Blood an' destruction." 

" I was willin' t' bet they'd attack as soon as 
th' sun got fairly up," savagely asserted the 
lieutenant who commanded the youth's company. 
He jerked without mercy at his little mustache. 
He strode to and fro with dark dignity in the 
rear of his men, who were lying down behind 
whatever protection they had collected. 

A battery had trundled into position in the 
rear and was thoughtfully shelling the distance. 
The regiment, unmolested as yet, awaited the 
moment when the gray shadows of the woods 
before them should be slashed by the lines of 
flame. There was much growling and swearing. 

" Good Gawd," the youth grumbled, " we're 
always being chased around like rats ! It makes 
me sick. Nobody seems to know where we go 
or why we go. We just get fired around from 
pillar to post and get licked here and get licked 
there, and nobody knows what it's done for. It 
makes a man feel like a damn' kitten in a bag. 
Now, I'd like to know what the eternal thunders 
we was marched into these woods for anyhow, 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. X 6l 

unless it was to give the rebs a regular pot shot 
at us. We came in here and got our legs all 
tangled up in these cussed briers, and then we 
begin to fight and the rebs had an easy time of it. 
Don't tell me it's just luck ! I know better. It's 
this derned old " 

The friend seemed jaded, but he interrupted 
his comrade with a voice of calm confidence. 
" It'll turn out all right in th' end," he said. 

" Oh, the devil it will ! You always talk like a 
dog-hanged parson. Don't tell me ! I know " 

At this time there was an interposition by the 
savage-minded lieutenant; who was obliged to 
vent some of his inward dissatisfaction upon his 
men. " You boys shut right up ! There no 
need 'a your wastin' your breath in long-winded 
arguments about this an* that an* th* other. 
You've been jawin* like a lot 'a old hens. All 
you've got t' do is to fight, an' you'll get plenty 'a 
that t' do in about ten minutes. Less talkin' an* 
more fightin* is what's best for you boys. I never 
saw sech gabbling jackasses." 

He paused, ready to pounce upon any man 
who might have the temerity to reply. No words 
being said, he resumed his dignified pacing. 

" There's too much chin music an* too little 
fightin' in this war, anyhow," he said to them, 
turning his head for a final remark. 



1 62 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

The day had grown more white, until the sun 
shed his full radiance upon the thronged forest. 
A sort of a gust of battle came sweeping toward 
that part of the line where lay the youth's regi- 
ment. The front shifted a trifle to meet it square- 
ly. There was a wait. In this part of the field 
there passed slowly the intense moments that pre- 
cede the tempest. 

A single rifle flashed in a thicket before the 
regiment. In an instant it was joined by many 
others. There was a mighty song of clashes and 
crashes that went sweeping through the woods. 
The guns in the rear, aroused and enraged by 
shells that had been thrown burr-like at them, 
suddenly involved themselves in a hideous alter- 
cation with another band of guns. The battle 
roar settled to a rolling thunder, which was a 
single, long explosion. 

In the regiment there was a peculiar kind of 
hesitation denoted in the attitudes of the men. 
They were worn, exhausted, having slept but lit- 
tle and labored much. They rolled their eyes 
toward the advancing battle as they stood await- 
ing the shock. Some shrank and flinched. They 
stood as men tied to stakes. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

THIS advance of the enemy had seemed to the 
youth like a ruthless hunting. He began to fume 
with rage and exasperation. He beat his foot 
upon the ground, and scowled with hate at the 
swirling smoke that was approaching like a phan- 
tom flood. There was a maddening quality in 
this seeming resolution of the foe to give him no 
rest, to give him no time to sit down and think. 
Yesterday he had fought and had fled rapidly. 
There had been many adventures. For to-day he 
felt that he had earned opportunities for contem- 
plative repose. He could have enjoyed portraying 
to uninitiated listeners various scenes at which he 
had been a witness or ably discussing the pro- 
cesses of war with other proved men. Too it was 
important that he should have time for physical 
recuperation. He was sore and stiff from his ex- 
periences. He had received his fill of all exer- 
tions, and he wished to rest. 

But those other men seemed never to grow 
weary ; they were fighting with their old speed. 



164 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

He had a wild hate for the relentless foe. Yester- 
day, when he had imagined the universe to be 
against him, he had hated it, little gods and big 
gods ; to-day he hated the army of the foe with 
the same great hatred. He was not going to be 
badgered of his life, like a kitten chased by boys, 
he said. It was not well to drive men into final 
corners ; at those moments they could all develop 
teeth and claws. 

He leaned and spoke into his friend's ear. He 
menaced the woods with a gesture. " If they 
keep on chasing us, by Gawd, they'd better watch 
out. Can't stand too much." 

The friend twisted his head and made a calm 
reply. " If they keep on a-chasin* us they'll drive 
us all inteh th' river." 

The youth cried out savagely at this state- 
ment. He crouched behind a little tree, with his 
eyes burning hatefully and his teeth set in a cur- 
like snarl. The awkward bandage was still about 
his head, and upon it, over his wound, there was 
a spot of dry blood. His hair was wondrously 
tousled, and some straggling, moving locks hung 
over the cloth of the bandage down toward his 
forehead. His jacket and shirt were open at the 
throat, and exposed his young bronzed neck. 
There could be seen spasmodic gulpings at his 
throat. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 165 

His fingers twined nervously about his rifle. 
He wished that it was an engine of annihilating 
power. He felt that he and his companions were 
being taunted and derided from sincere convic- 
tions that they were poor and puny. His knowl- 
edge of his inability to take vengeance for it made 
his rage into a dark and stormy specter, that pos- 
sessed him and made him dream of abominable 
cruelties. The tormentors were flies sucking in- 
solently at his blood, and he thought that he would 
have given his life for a revenge of seeing their 
faces in pitiful plights. 

The winds of battle had swept all about the 
regiment, until the one rifle, instantly followed by 
others, flashed in its front. A moment later the 
regiment roared forth its sudden and valiant re- 
tort. A dense wall of smoke settled slowly down. 
It was furiously slit and slashed, by the knifelike 
fire from the rifles. 

To the youth the fighters resembled animals 
tossed for a death struggle into a dark pit. There 
was a sensation that he and his fellows, at bay, 
were pushing back, always pushing fierce on- 
slaughts of creatures who were slippery. Their 
beams of crimson seemed to get no purchase upon 
the bodies of their foes ; the latter seemed to evade 
them with ease, and come through, between, 
around, and about with unopposed skill. 



j66 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

When, in a dream, it occurred to the youth 
that his rifle was an impotent stick, he lost sense 
of everything but his hate, his desire to smash 
into pulp the glittering smile of victory which he 
could feel upon the faces of his enemies. 

The blue smoke-swallowed line curled and 
writhed like a snake stepped upon. It swung its 
ends to and fro in an agony of fear and rage. 

The youth was not conscious that he was erect 
upon his feet. He did not know the direction of 
the ground. Indeed, once he even lost the habit 
of balance and fell heavily. He was up again 
immediately. One thought went through the 
chaos of his brain at the time. He wondered if 
he had fallen because he had been shot. But the 
suspicion flew away at once. He did not think 
more of it. 

He had taken up a first position behind the lit- 
tle tree, with a direct determination to hold it 
against the world. He had not deemed it possi- 
ble that his army could that day succeed, and 
from this he felt the ability to fight harder. But 
the throng had surged in all ways, until he lost 
directions and locations, save that he knew where 
lay the enemy. 

The flames bit him, and the hot smoke broiled 
his skin. His rifle barrel grew so hot that ordi- 
narily he could not have borne it upon his palms ; 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. jG/ 

but he kept on stuffing cartridges into it, and 
pounding them with his clanking, bending ram- 
rod. If he aimed at some changing form through 
the smoke, he pulled his trigger with a fierce 
grunt, as if he were dealing a blow of the fist with 
all his strength. 

When the enemy seemed falling back before 
him and his fellows, he went instantly forward, 
like a dog who, seeing his foes lagging, turns and 
insists upon being pursued. And when he was 
compelled to retire again, he did it slowly, sul- 
lenly, taking steps of wrathful despair. 

Once he, in his intent hate, was almost alone, 
and was firing, when all those near him had ceased. 
He was so engrossed in his occupation that he 
was not aware of a lull. 

He was recalled by a hoarse laugh and a sen- 
tence that came to his ears in a voice of contempt 
and amazement. " Yeh infernal fool, don't yeh 
know enough t' quit when there ain't anything t' 
shoot at? Good Gawd !" 

He turned then and, pausing with his rifle 
thrown half into position, looked at the blue line 
of his comrades. During this moment of leisure 
they seemed all to be engaged in staring with 
astonishment at him. They had become specta- 
tors. Turning to the front again he saw, under 
the lifted smoke, a deserted ground. 



1 68 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

He looked bewildered for a moment. Then 
there appeared upon the glazed vacancy of his 
eyes a diamond point of intelligence. " Oh," he 
said, comprehending. 

He returned to his comrades and threw him- 
self upon the ground. He sprawled like a man 
who had been thrashed. His flesh seemed strange- 
ly on fire, and the sounds of the battle continued 
in his ears. He groped blindly for his canteen. 

The lieutenant was crowing. He seemed 
drunk with fighting. He called out to the youth : 
" By heavens, if I had ten thousand wild cats like 
you I could tear th' stomach outa this war in 
less'n a week ! " He puffed out his chest with 
large dignity as he said it. 

Some of the men muttered and looked at the 
youth in awe-struck ways. It was plain that as 
he had gone on loading and firing and cursing 
without the proper intermission, they had found 
time to regard him. And they now looked upon 
him as a war devil. 

The friend came staggering to him. There 
was some fright and dismay in his voice. " Are yeh 
all right, Fleming? Do yeh feel all right? There 
ain't nothin' th' matter with yeh, Henry, is there ? " 

" No," said the youth with difficulty. His 
throat seemed full of knobs and burs. 

These incidents made the. youth ponder. It 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. ^9 

was revealed to him that he had been a barbarian, 
a beast. He had fought like a pagan who de- 
fends his religion. Regarding it, he saw that it 
was fine, wild, and, in some ways, easy. He had 
been a tremendous figure, no doubt. By this 
struggle he had overcome obstacles which he 
had admitted to be mountains. They had fallen 
like paper peaks, and he was now what he called 
a hero. And he had not been aware of the pro- 
cess. He had slept and, awakening, found him- 
self a knight. 

He lay and basked in the occasional stares of 
his comrades. Their faces were varied in de- 
grees of blackness from the burned powder. 
Some were utterly smudged. They were reek- 
ing with perspiration, and their breaths came 
hard and wheezing. And from these soiled ex- 
panses they peered at him. 

" Hot work ! Hot work ! " cried the lieu- 
tenant deliriously. He walked up and down, 
restless and eager. Sometimes his voice could 
be heard in a wild, incomprehensible laugh. 

When he had a particularly profound thought 
upon the science of war he always unconsciously 
addressed himself to the youth. 

There was some grim rejoicing by the men. 
" By thunder, I bet this army '11 never see another 
new reg'ment like us ! " 



170 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

" You bet ! " 

" A dog, a woman, an' a walnut tree, 
Th' more yeh beat 'em, th' better they be ! 

That's like us." 

" Lost a piler men, they did. If an' ol* woman 
swep' up th' woods she'd git a dustpanful." 

" Yes, an' if she'll come around ag'in in 'bout 
an' hour she'll git a pile more." 

The forest still bore its burden of clamor. 
From off under the trees came the rolling clatter 
of the musketry. Each distant thicket seemed a 
strange porcupine with quills of flame. A cloud 
of dark smoke, as from smoldering ruins, went 
up toward the sun now bright and gay in the 
blue, enameled sky. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

THE ragged line had respite for some min- 
utes, but during its pause the struggle in the 
forest became magnified until the trees seemed to 
quiver from the firing and the ground to shake 
from the rushing of the men. The voices of the 
cannon were mingled in a long and interminable 
row. It seemed difficult to live in such an atmos- 
phere. The chests of the men strained for a bit 
of freshness, and their throats craved water. 

There was one shot through the body, who 
raised a cry of bitter lamentation when came this 
lull. Perhaps he had been calling out during 
the fighting also, but at that time no one had 
heard him. But now the men turned at the woe- 
ful complaints of him upon the ground. 

" Who is it ? Who is it ? " 

" It's Jimmie Rogers. Jimmie Rogers." 

When their eyes first encountered him there 
was a sudden halt, as if they feared to go near. 
He was thrashing about in the grass, twisting his 



1^2 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

shuddering- body into many strange postures. 
He was screaming loudly. This instant's hesita- 
tion seemed to fill him with a tremendous, fantas- 
tic contempt, and he damned them in shrieked 
sentences. 

The youth's friend had a geographical illusion 
concerning a stream, and he obtained permission 
to go for some water. Immediately canteens 
were showered upon him. " Fill mine, will 
yeh ? " " Bring me some, too." " And me, too." 
He departed, ladened. The youth went with his 
friend, feeling a desire to throw his heated body 
onto the stream and, soaking there, drink quarts. 

They made a hurried search for the supposed 
stream, but did not find it. " No water here," 
said the youth. They turned without delay and 
began to retrace their steps. 

From their position as they again faced to- 
ward the place of the fighting, they could of 
course comprehend a greater amount of the bat- 
tle than when their visions had been blurred by 
the hurling smoke of the line. They could see 
dark stretches winding along the land, and on 
one cleared space there was a row of guns mak- 
ing gray clouds, which were filled with large 
flashes of orange-colored flame. Over some foli- 
age they could see the roof of a house. One win- 
dow, glowing a deep murder red, shone squarely 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



173 



through the leaves. From the edifice a tall lean- 
ing tower of smoke went far into the sky. 

Looking over their own troops, they saw 
mixed masses slowly getting into regular form. 
The sunlight made twinkling points of the bright 
steel. To the rear there was a glimpse of a dis- 
tant roadway as it curved over a slope. It was 
crowded with retreating infantry. From all the 
interwoven forest arose the smoke and bluster 
of the battle. The air was always occupied by 
a blaring. 

Near where they stood shells were flip-flap- 
ping and hooting. Occasional bullets buzzed in 
the air and spanged into tree trunks. Wounded 
men and other stragglers were slinking through 
the woods. 

Looking down an aisle of the grove, the 
youth and his companion saw a jangling general 
and his staff almost ride upon a wounded man, 
who was crawling on his hands and knees. The 
general reined strongly at his charger's opened 
and foamy mouth and guided it with dexterous 
horsemanship past the man. The latter scram- 
bled in wild and torturing haste. His strength 
evidently failed him as he reached a place of 
safety. One of his arms suddenly weakened, and 
he fell, sliding over upon his back. He lay 
stretched out, breathing gently. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



A moment later the small, creaking cavalcade 
was directly in front of the two soldiers. An- 
other officer, riding with the skillful abandon of a 
cowboy, galloped his horse to a position directly 
before the general. The two unnoticed foot sol- 
diers made a little show of going on, but they 
lingered near in the desire to overhear the con- 
versation. Perhaps, they thought, some great 
inner historical things would be said. 

The general, whom the boys knew as the com- 
mander of their division, looked at the other 
officer and spoke coolly, as if he were criticising 
his clothes. " Th' enemy's formin' over there for 
another charge," he said. " It'll be directed 
against Whiterside, an' I fear they'll break 
through there unless we work like thunder t' stop 
them." 

The other swore at his restive horse, and then 
cleared his throat. He made a gesture toward 
his cap. " It'll be hell t' pay stoppin' them," he 
said shortly. 

" I presume so," remarked the general. Then 
he began to talk rapidly and in a lower tone. He 
frequently illustrated his words with a pointing 
finger. The two infantrymen could hear nothing 
until finally he asked : " What troops can you 
spare ? " 

The officer who rode like a cowboy reflected 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. iy$ 

for an instant. " Well," he said, " I had to order 
in th' 1 2th to help th' 76th, an' I haven't really got 
any. But there's th' 3O4th. They fight like a 
lot 'a mule drivers. I can spare them best 
of any." 

The youth and his friend exchanged glances 
of astonishment. 

The general spoke sharply. " Get 'em ready, 
then. I'll watch developments from here, an' 
send you word when t' start them. It'll happen 
in five minutes." 

As the other officer tossed his fingers toward 
his cap and wheeling his horse, started away, the 
general called out to him in a sober voice : " I 
don't believe many of your mule drivers will get 
back." 

The other shouted something in reply. He 
smiled. 

With scared faces, the youth and his compan- 
ion hurried back to the line. 

These happenings had occupied an incredibly 
short time, yet the youth felt that in them he had 
been made aged. New eyes were given to him. 
And the most startling thing was to learn sud- 
denly that he was very insignificant. The officer 
spoke of the regiment as if he referred to a 
broom. Some part of the woods needed sweep- 
ing, perhaps, and he merely indicated a broom in 



12 



176 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

a tone properly indifferent to its fate. It was 
war, no doubt, but it appeared strange. 

As the two boys approached the line, the lieu- 
tenant perceived them and swelled with wrath. 
" Fleming Wilson how long does it take yeh 
to git water, anyhow where yeh been to." 

But his oration ceased as he saw their eyes, 
which were large with great tales. " We're goin* 
t' charge we're goin' t' charge !/' cried the 
youth's friend, hastening with his news. 

"Charge?" said the lieutenant. "Charge? 
Well, b'Gawd ! Now, this is real fightin'." Over 
his soiled countenance there went a boastful 
smile. "Charge? Well, b'Gawd !" 

A little group of soldiers surrounded the two 
youths. "Are we, sure 'nough? Well, I'll be 
derned! Charge? Whatfer? What at? Wil- 
son, you're lyin'." 

" I hope to die," said the youth, pitching his 
tones to the key of angry remonstrance. " Sure 
as shooting, I tell you." 

And his friend spoke in re-enforcement. " Not 
by a blame sight, he ain't lyin'. We heard 'em 
talkin'." 

They caught sight of two mounted figures a 
short distance from them. One was the colonel 
of the regiment and the other was the officer who 
had received orders from the commander of the 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

division. They were gesticulating at each other. 
The soldier, pointing at them, interpreted the 
scene. 

One man had a final objection : " How could 
yeh hear 'em talkin'?" But the men, for a large 
part, nodded, admitting that previously the two 
friends had spoken truth. 

They settled back into reposeful attitudes 
with airs of having accepted the matter. And 
they mused upon it, with a hundred varieties of 
expression. It was an engrossing thing to think 
about. Many tightened their belts carefully and 
hitched at their trousers. 

A moment later the officers began to bustle 
among the men, pushing them into a more com- 
pact mass and into a better alignment. They 
chased those that straggled and fumed at a few 
men who seemed to show by their attitudes that 
they had decided to remain at that spot. They 
were like critical shepherds struggling with sheep. 

Presently, the regiment seemed to draw itself 
up and heave a deep breath. None of the men's 
faces were mirrors of large thoughts. The sol- 
diers were bended and stooped like sprinters be- 
fore a signal. Many pairs of glinting eyes peered 
from the grimy faces toward the curtains of the 
deeper woods. They seemed to be engaged in 
deep calculations of time and distance. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

They were surrounded by the noises of the 
monstrous altercation between the two armies. 
The world was fully interested in other matters. 
Apparently, the regiment had its small affair to 
itself. 

The youth, turning, shot a quick, inquiring 
glance at his friend. The latter returned to him 
the same manner of look. They were the only 
ones who possessed an inner knowledge. " Mule 
drivers hell t' pay don't believe many will get 
back." It was an ironical secret. Still, they saw 
no hesitation in each other's faces, and they nod- 
ded a mute and unprotesting assent when a shag- 
gy man near them said in a meek voice : " We'll 
git swallowed." 



CHAPTER XIX. 

THE youth stared at the land in front of him. 
Its foliages now seemed to veil powers and hor- 
rors. He was unaware of the machinery of orders 
that started the charge, although from the cor- 
ners of his eyes he saw an officer, who looked 
like a boy a-horseback, come galloping, waving 
his hat. Suddenly he felt a straining and heaving 
among the men. The line fell slowly forward 
like a toppling wall, and, with a convulsive gasp 
that was intended for a cheer, the regiment began 
its journey. The youth was pushed and jostled 
for a moment before he understood the move- 
ment at all, but directly he lunged ahead and 
began to run. 

He fixed his eye upon a distant and promi- 
nent clump of trees where he had concluded the 
enemy were to be met, and he ran toward it as 
toward a goal. He had believed throughout that 
it was a mere question of getting over an unpleas- 
ant matter as quickly as possible, and he ran 



I8o THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

desperately, as if pursued for a murder. His 
face was drawn hard and tight with the stress of 
his endeavor. His eyes were fixed in a lurid 
glare. And with his soiled and disordered dress, 
his red and inflamed features surmounted by the 
dingy rag with its spot of blood, his wildly 
swinging rifle and banging accouterments, he 
looked to be an insane soldier. 

As the regiment swung from its position out 
into a cleared space the woods and thickets be- 
fore it awakened. Yellow flames leaped toward 
it from many directions. The forest made a tre- 
mendous objection. 

The line lurched straight for a moment. Then 
the right wing swung forward ; it in turn was 
surpassed by the left. Afterward the center 
careered to the front until the regiment was a 
wedge-shaped mass, but an instant later the 
opposition of the bushes, trees, and uneven places 
on the ground split the command and scattered 
it into detached clusters. 

The youth, light-footed, was unconsciously in 
advance. His eyes still kept note of the clump of 
trees. From all places near it the clannish yell 
of the enemy could be heard. The little flames 
of rifles leaped from it. The song of the bullets 
was in the air and shells snarled among the tree- 
tops. One tumbled directly into the middle of a 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. jgi 

hurrying group and exploded in crimson fury. 
There was an instant's spectacle of a man, almost 
over it, throwing up his hands to shield his eyes. 

Other men, punched by bullets, fell in gro- 
tesque agonies. The regiment left a coherent 
trail of bodies. 

They had passed into a clearer atmosphere. 
There was an effect like a revelation in the new 
appearance of the landscape. Some men work- 
ing madly at a battery were plain to them, and 
the opposing infantry's lines were defined by the 
gray walls and fringes of smoke. 

It seemed to the youth that he saw every- 
thing. Each blade of the green grass was bold 
and clear. He thought that he was aware of 
every change in the thin, transparent vapor that 
floated idly in sheets. The brown or gray trunks 
of the trees showed each roughness of their sur- 
faces. And the men of the regiment, with their 
starting eyes and sweating faces, running madly, 
or falling, as if thrown headlong, to queer, 
heaped-up corpses all were comprehended. His 
mind took a mechanical but firm impression, so 
that afterward everything was pictured and ex- 
plained to him, save why he himself was there. 

But there was a frenzy made from this furious 
rush. The men, pitching forward insanely, had 
burst into cheerings, moblike and barbaric, but 



1 82 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

tuned in strange keys that can arouse the dullard 
and the stoic. It made a mad enthusiasm that, it 
seemed, would be incapable of checking itself 
before granite and brass. There was the deli- 
rium that encounters despair and death, and is 
heedless and blind to the odds. It is a temporary 
but sublime absence of selfishness. And because 
it was of this order was the reason, perhaps, why 
the youth wondered, afterward, what reasons he 
could have had for being there. 

Presently the straining pace ate up the ener- 
gies of the men. As if by agreement, the leaders 
began to slacken their speed. The volleys di- 
rected against them had had a seeming windlike 
effect. The regiment snorted and blew. Among 
some stolid trees it began to falter and hesitate. 
The men, staring intently, began to wait for some 
of the distant walls of smoke to move and dis- 
close to them the scene. Since much of their 
strength and their breath had vanished, they re- 
turned to caution. They were become men 
again. 

The youth had a vague belief that he had run 
miles, and he thought, in a way, that he was now 
in some new and unknown land. 

The moment the regiment ceased its advance 
the protesting splutter of musketry became a 
steadied roar. Long and accurate fringes of 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



smoke spread out. From the top of a small hill 
came level belchings of yellow flame that caused 
an inhuman whistling in the air. 

The men, halted, had opportunity to see some 
of their comrades dropping with moans and 
shrieks. A few lay under foot, still or wailing. 
And now for an instant the men stood, their rifles 
slack in their hands, and watched the regiment 
dwindle. They appeared dazed and stupid. This 
spectacle seemed to paralyze them, overcome 
them with a fatal fascination. They stared wood- 
enly at the sights, and, lowering their eyes, looked 
from face to face. It was a strange pause, and a 
strange silence. 

Then, above the sounds of the outside commo- 
tion, arose the roar of the lieutenant. He strode 
suddenly forth, his infantile features black with 
rage. 

" Come on, yeh fools ! " he bellowed. " Come 
on ! Yeh can't stay here. Yeh must come on." 
He said more, but much of it could not be under- 
stood. 

He started rapidly forward, with his head 
turned toward the men. " Come on," he was 
shouting. The men stared with blank and yokel- 
like eyes at him. He was obliged to halt and 
retrace his steps. He stood then with his back 
to the enemy and delivered gigantic curses into 



1 84 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

the faces of the men. His body vibrated from 
the weight and force of his imprecations. And 
he could string oaths with the facility of a maiden 
who strings beads. 

The friend of the youth aroused. Lurching 
suddenly forward and dropping to his knees, he 
fired an angry shot at the persistent woods. This 
action awakened the men. They huddled no 
more like sheep. They seemed suddenly to be- 
think them of their weapons, and at once com- 
menced firing. Belabored by their officers, they 
began to move forward. The regiment, involved 
like a cart involved in mud and muddle, started 
unevenly with many jolts and jerks. The men 
stopped now every few paces to fire and load, 
and in this manner moved slowly on from trees 
to trees. 

The flaming opposition in their front grew 
with their advance until it seemed that all for- 
ward ways were barred by the thin leaping 
tongues, and off to the right an ominous demon- 
stration could sometimes be dimly discerned. 
The smoke lately generated was in confusing 
clouds that made it difficult for the regiment to 
proceed with intelligence. As he passed through 
each curling mass the youth wondered what 
would confront him on the farther side. 

The command went painfully forward until an 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 185 

open space interposed between them and the 
lurid lines. Here, crouching and cowering be- 
hind some trees, the men clung with desperation, 
as if threatened by a wave. They looked wild- 
eyed, and as if amazed at this furious disturbance 
they had stirred. In the storm there was an 
ironical expression of their importance. The 
faces of the men, too, showed a lack of a certain 
feeling of responsibility for being there. It was 
as if they had been driven. It was the dominant 
animal failing to remember in the supreme mo- 
ments the forceful causes of various superficial 
qualities. The whole affair seemed incompre- 
hensible to many of them. 

As they halted thus the lieutenant again be- 
gan to bellow profanely. Regardless of the vin- 
dictive threats of the bullets, he went about 
coaxing, berating, and bedamning. His lips, 
that were habitually in a soft and childlike curve, 
were now writhed into unholy contortions. He 
swore by all possible deities. 

Once he grabbed the youth by the arm. 
" Come on, yeh lunkhead ! " he roared. " Come 
on ! We'll all git killed if we stay here. We've 
on'y got t' go across that lot. An' then " the 
remainder of his idea disappeared in a blue haze 
of curses. 

The youth stretched forth his arm. "Cross 



1 86 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

there ? " His mouth was puckered in doubt and 
awe. 

" Certainly. Jest 'cross th' lot ! We can't 
stay here," screamed the lieutenant. He poked 
his face close to the youth and waved his ban- 
daged hand. " Come on ! " Presently he grap- 
pled with him as if for a wrestling bout. It was 
as if he planned to drag the youth by the ear on 
to the assault. 

The private felt a sudden unspeakable indig- 
nation against his officer. He wrenched fiercely 
and shook him off. 

" Come on yerself, then," he yelled. There 
was a bitter challenge in his voice. 

They galloped together down the regimental 
front. The friend scrambled after them. In front 
of the colors the three men began to bawl : 
" Come on ! come on ! " They danced and gy- 
rated like tortured savages. 

The flag, obedient to these appeals, bended its 
glittering form and swept toward them. The 
men wavered in indecision for a moment, and then 
with a long, wailful cry the dilapidated regiment 
surged forward and began its new journey. 

Over the field went the scurrying mass. It 
was a handful of men splattered into the faces of 
the enemy. Toward it instantly sprang the yel- 
low tongues. A vast quantity of blue smoke 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 187 

hung before them. A mighty banging made ears 
valueless. 

The youth ran like a madman to reach the 
woods before a bullet could discover him. He 
ducked his head low, like a football player. In 
his haste his eyes almost closed, and the scene was 
a wild blur. Pulsating saliva stood at the corners 
of his mouth. 

Within him, as he hurled himself forward, was 
born a love, a despairing fondness for this flag 
which was near him. It was a creation of beauty 
and invulnerability. It was a goddess, radiant, 
that bended its form with an imperious gesture to 
him. It was a woman, red and white, hating and 
loving, that called him with the voice of his 
hopes. Because no harm could come to it he en- 
dowed it with power. He kept near, as if it 
could be a saver of lives, and an imploring cry 
went from his mind. 

In the mad scramble he was aware that the 
color sergeant flinched suddenly, as if struck by a 
bludgeon. He faltered, and then became motion- 
less, save for his quivering knees. 

He made a spring and a clutch at the pole. 
At the same instant his friend grabbed it from the 
other side. They jerked at it, stout and furious, 
but the color sergeant was dead, and the corpse 
would not relinquish its trust. For a moment 



1 88 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

there was a grim encounter. The dead man, 
swinging with bended back, seemed to be obsti- 
nately tugging, in ludicrous and awful ways, for 
the possession of the flag. 

It was past in an instant of time. They 
wrenched the flag furiously from the dead man, 
and, as they turned again, the corpse swayed for- 
ward with bowed head. One arm swung high, 
and the curved hand fell with heavy protest on 
the friend's unheeding shoulder. 



CHAPTER XX. 

WHEN the two youths turned with the flag 
they saw that much of the regiment had crum- 
bled away, and the dejected remnant was coming 
slowly back. The men, having hurled themselves 
in projectile fashion, had presently expended their 
forces. They slowly retreated, with their faces 
still toward the spluttering woods, and their hot 
rifles still replying to the din. Several officers 
were giving orders, their voices keyed to screams. 

" Where in hell yeh goin' ? " the lieutenant was 
asking in a sarcastic howl. And a red-bearded 
officer, whose voice of triple brass could plainly 
be heard, was commanding : " Shoot into 'em ! 
Shoot into 'em, Gawd damn their souls ! " There 
was a mette of screeches, in which the men were 
ordered to do conflicting and impossible things. 

The youth and his friend had a small scuffle 
over the flag. " Give it t' me ! " " No, let me 
keep it! " Each felt satisfied with the other's pos- 
session of it, but each felt bound to declare, by 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

an offer to carry the emblem, his willingness to 
further risk himself. The youth roughly pushed 
his friend away. 

The regiment fell back to the stolid trees. 
There it halted for a moment to blaze at some 
dark forms that had begun to steal upon its track. 
Presently it resumed its march again, curving 
among the tree trunks. By the time the depleted 
regiment had again reached the first open space 
they were receiving a fast and merciless fire. 
There seemed to be mobs all about them. 

The greater part of the men, discouraged, 
their spirits worn by the turmoil, acted as if 
stunned. They accepted the pelting of the bul- 
lets with bowed and weary heads. It was of no 
purpose to strive against walls. It was of no use 
to batter themselves against granite. And from 
this consciousness that they had attempted to 
conquer an unconquerable thing there seemed 
to arise a feeling that they had been betrayed. 
They glowered with bent brows, but danger- 
ously, upon some of the officers, more particu- 
larly upon the red-bearded one with the voice of 
triple brass. 

However, the rear of the regiment was fringed 
with men, who continued to shoot irritably at the 
advancing foes. They seemed resolved to make 
every trouble. The youthful lieutenant was per- 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. igi 

haps the last man in the disordered mass. His 
forgotten back was toward the enemy. He had 
been shot in the arm. It hung straight and rigid. 
Occasionally he would cease to remember it, and 
be about to emphasize an oath with a sweeping 
gesture. The multiplied pain caused him to 
swear with incredible power. 

The youth went along with slipping, uncertain 
feet. He kept watchful eyes rearward. A scowl 
of mortification and rage was upon his face. He 
had thought of a fine revenge upon the officer 
who had referred to him and his fellows as mule 
drivers. But he saw that it could not come to 
pass. His dreams had collapsed when the mule 
drivers, dwindling rapidly, had wavered and hes- 
itated on the little clearing, and then had recoiled. 
And now the retreat of the mule drivers was a 
march of shame to him. 

A dagger-pointed gaze from without his black- 
ened face was held toward the enemy, but his 
greater hatred was riveted upon the man, who, 
not knowing him, had called him a mule driver. 

When he knew that he and his comrades had 
failed to do anything in successful ways that might 
bring the little pangs of a kind of remorse upon 
the officer, the youth allowed the rage of the baf- 
fled to possess him. This cold officer upon a 

monument, who dropped epithets unconcernedly 
13 



I 9 2 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



down, would be finer as a dead man, he thought. 
So grievous did he think it that he could 
never possess the secret right to taunt truly in 
answer. 

He had pictured red letters of curious revenge. 
" We are mule drivers, are we ? " And now he 
was compelled to throw them away. 

He presently wrapped his heart in the cloak 
of his pride and kept the flag erect. He ha- 
rangued his fellows, pushing against their chests 
with his free hand. To those he knew well he 
made frantic appeals, beseeching them by name. 
Between him and the lieutenant, scolding and 
near to losing his mind with rage, there was felt a 
subtle fellowship and equality. They supported 
each other in all manner of hoarse, howling pro- 
tests. 

But the regiment was a machine run down. 
The two men babbled at a forceless thing. The 
soldiers who had heart to go slowly were con- 
tinually shaken in their resolves by a knowledge 
that comrades were slipping with speed back to 
the lines. It was difficult to think of reputation 
when others were thinking of skins. Wounded 
men were left crying on this black journey. 

The smoke fringes and flames blustered al- 
ways. The youth, peering once through a sud- 
den rift in a cloud, saw a brown mass of troops, 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



193 



interwoven and magnified until they appeared to 
be thousands. A fierce-hued flag flashed before 
his vision. 

Immediately, as if the uplifting of the smoke 
had been prearranged, the discovered troops 
burst into a rasping yell, and a hundred flames 
jetted toward the retreating band. A rolling 
gray cloud again interposed as the regiment dog- 
gedly replied. The youth had to depend again 
upon his misused ears, which were trembling 
and buzzing from the mele'e of musketry and 
yells. 

The way seemed eternal. In the clouded haze 
men became panicstricken with the thought that 
the regiment had lost its path, and was proceed- 
ing in a perilous direction. Once the men who 
headed the wild procession turned and came push- 
ing back against their comrades, screaming that 
they were being fired upon from points which 
they had considered to be toward their own lines. 
At this cry a hysterical fear and dismay beset the 
troops. A soldier, who heretofore had been am- 
bitious to make the regiment into a wise little 
band that would proceed calmly amid the huge- 
appearing difficulties, suddenly sank down and 
buried his face in his arms with an air of bowing 
to a doom. From another a shrill lamentation 
rang out filled with profane illusions to a general. 



194 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



Men ran hither and thither, seeking with their 
eyes roads of escape. With serene regularity, as 
if controlled by a schedule, bullets buffed into 
men. 

The youth walked stolidly into the midst of 
the mob, and with his flag in his hands took a 
stand as if he expected an attempt to push him to 
the ground. He unconsciously assumed the atti- 
tude of the color bearer in the fight of the pre- 
ceding day. He passed over his brow a hand 
that trembled. His breath did not come freely. 
He was choking during this small wait for the 
crisis. 

His friend came to him. " Well, Henry, I 
guess this is good-by John." 

" Oh, shut up, you damned fool ! " replied the 
youth, and he would not look at the other. 

The officers labored like politicians to beat 
the mass into a proper circle to face the men- 
aces. The ground was uneven and torn. The 
men curled into depressions and fitted them- 
selves snugly behind whatever would frustrate 
a bullet. 

The youth noted with vague surprise that the 
lieutenant was standing mutely with his legs far 
apart and his sword held in the manner of a cane. 
The youth wondered what had happened to his 
vocal organs that he no more cursed. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



195 



There was something curious in this little in- 
tent pause of the lieutenant. He was like a babe 
which, having wept its fill, raises its eyes and 
fixes them upon a distant toy. He was engrossed 
in this contemplation, and the soft under lip quiv- 
ered from self-whispered words. 

Some lazy and ignorant smoke curled slowly. 
The men, hiding from the bullets, waited anx- 
iously for it to lift and disclose the plight of the 
regiment. 

The silent ranks were suddenly thrilled by the 
eager voice of the youthful lieutenant bawling 
out : " Here they come ! Right onto us, 
b'Gawd ! " His further words were lost in a roar 
of wicked thunder from the men's rifles. 

The youth's eyes had instantly turned in the 
direction indicated by the awakened and agitated 
lieutenant, and he had seen the haze of treachery 
disclosing a body of soldiers of the enemy. They 
were so near that he could see their features. 
There was a recognition as he looked at the types 
of faces. Also he perceived with dim amazement 
that their uniforms were rather gay in effect, 
being light gray, accented with a brilliant-hued 
facing. Moreover, the clothes seemed new. 

These troops had apparently been going for- 
ward with caution, their rifles held in readiness, 
when the youthful lieutenant had discovered 



196 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



them and their movement had been interrupted 
by the volley from the blue regiment. From the 
moment's glimpse, it was derived that they had 
been unaware of the proximity of their dark- 
suited foes or had mistaken the direction. Al- 
most instantly they were shut utterly from the 
youth's sight by the smoke from the energetic 
rifles of his companions. He strained his vision 
to learn the accomplishment of the volley, but the 
smoke hung before him. 

The two bodies of troops exchanged blows in 
the manner of a pair of boxers. The fast angry 
firings went back and forth. The men in blue 
were intent with the despair of their circum- 
stances and they seized upon the revenge to be 
had at close range. Their thunder swelled loud 
and valiant. Their curving front bristled with 
flashes and the place resounded with the clangor 
of their ramrods. The youth ducked and dodged 
for a time and achieved a few unsatisfactory 
views of the enemy. There appeared to be many 
of them and they were replying swiftly. They 
seemed moving toward the blue regiment, step 
by step. He seated himself gloomily on the 
ground with his flag between his knees. 

As he noted the vicious, wolflike temper of 
his comrades he had a sweet thought that if the 
enemy was about to swallow the regimental 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



197 



broom as a large prisoner, it could at least have 
the consolation of going down with bristles for- 
ward. 

But the blows of the antagonist began to 
grow more weak. Fewer bullets ripped the air, 
and finally, when the men slackened to learn of 
the fight, they could see only dark, floating 
smoke. The regiment lay still and gazed. Pres- 
ently some chance whim came to the pestering 
blur, and it began to coil heavily away. The men 
saw a ground vacant of fighters. It would have 
been an empty stage if it were not for a few 
corpses that lay thrown and twisted into fantastic 
shapes upon the sward. 

At sight of this tableau, many of the men in 
blue sprang from behind their covers and made 
an ungainly dance of joy. Their eyes burned 
and a hoarse cheer of elation broke from their 
dry lips. 

It had begun to seem to them that events were 
trying to prove that they were impotent. These 
little battles had evidently endeavored to demon- 
strate that the men could not fight well. When 
on the verge of submission to these opinions, the 
small duel had showed them that the propor- 
tions were not impossible, and by it they had 
revenged themselves upon their misgivings and 
upon the foe. 



I 9 8 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



The impetus of enthusiasm was theirs again. 
They gazed about them with looks of uplifted 
pride, feeling new trust in the grim, always 
confident weapons in their hands. And they 
were men. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

PRESENTLY they knew that no firing threat- 
ened them. All ways seemed once more opened 
to them. The dusty blue lines of their friends 
were disclosed a short distance away. In the 
distance there were many colossal noises, but in 
all this part of the field there was a sudden 
stillness. 

They perceived that they were free. The 
depleted band drew a long breath of relief 
and gathered itself into a bunch to complete 
its trip. 

In this last length of journey the men began 
to show strange emotions. They hurried with 
nervous fear. Some who had been dark and un- 
faltering in the grimmest moments now could not 
conceal an anxiety that made them frantic. It 
was perhaps that they dreaded to be killed in 
insignificant ways after the times for proper 
military deaths had passed. Or, perhaps, they 
thought it would be too ironical to get killed at 



200 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

the portals of safety. With backward looks of 
perturbation, they hastened. 

As they approached their own lines there was 
some sarcasm exhibited on the part of a gaunt 
and bronzed regiment that lay resting in the 
shade of trees. Questions were wafted to them. 

" Where th' hell yeh been ? " 

" What yeh comin' back fer ? " 

" Why didn't yeh stay there ? " 

" Was it warm out there, sonny ? " 

" Goin' home now, boys ? " 

One shouted in taunting mimicry : " Oh, 
mother, come quick an* look at th' sojers ! " 

There was no reply from the bruised and bat- 
tered regiment, save that one man made broad- 
cast challenges to fist fights and the red-bearded 
officer walked rather near and glared in great 
swashbuckler style at a tall captain in the other 
regiment. But the lieutenant suppressed the 
man who wished to fist fight, and the tall cap- 
tain, flushing at the little fanfare of the red- 
bearded one, was obliged to look intently at some 
trees. 

The youth's tender flesh was deeply stung by 
these remarks. From under his creased brows 
he glowered with hate at the mockers. He 
meditated upon a few revenges. Still, many in 
the regiment hung their heads in criminal fashion, 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 20 1 

so that it came to pass that the men trudged with 
sudden heaviness, as if they bore upon their 
bended shoulders the coffin of their honor. And 
the youthful lieutenant, recollecting himself, be- 
gan to mutter softly in black curses. 

They turned when they arrived at their old 
position to regard the ground over which they 
had charged. 

The youth in this contemplation was smitten 
with a large astonishment. He discovered that 
the distances, as compared with the brilliant 
measurings of his mind, were trivial and ridicu- 
lous. The stolid trees, where much had taken 
place, seemed incredibly near. The time, too, 
now that he reflected, he saw to have been short. 
He wondered at the number of emotions and 
events that had been crowded into such little 
spaces. Elfin thoughts must have exaggerated 
and enlarged everything, he said. 

It seemed, then, that there was bitter justice 
in the speeches of the gaunt and bronzed vet- 
erans. He veiled a glance of .disdain at his fel- 
lows who strewed the ground, choking with dust, 
red from perspiration, misty-eyed, disheveled. 

They were gulping at their canteens, fierce to 
wring every mite of water from them, and they 
polished at their swollen and watery features 
with coat sleeves and bunches of grass. 



202 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

However, to the youth there was a consider- 
able joy in musing upon his performances during 
the charge. He had had very little time pre- 
viously in which to appreciate himself, so that 
there was now much satisfaction in quietly think- 
ing of his actions. He recalled bits of color that 
in the flurry had stamped themselves unawares 
upon his engaged senses. 

As the regiment lay heaving from its hot exer- 
tions the officer who had named them as mule 
drivers came galloping along the line. He had 
lost his cap. His tousled hair streamed wildly, 
and his face was dark with vexation and wrath. 
His temper was displayed with more clearness 
by the way in which he managed his horse. He 
jerked and wrenched savagely at his bridle, stop- 
ping the hard-breathing animal with a furious 
pull near the colonel of the regiment. He im- 
mediately exploded in reproaches which came 
unbidden to the ears of the men. They were 
suddenly alert, being always curious about black 
words between officers. 

" Oh, thunder, MacChesnay, what an awful 
bull you made of this thing ! " began the officer. 
He attempted low tones, but his indignation 
caused certain of the men to learn the sense of 
his words. " What an awful mess you made ! 
Good Lord, man, you stopped about a hun- 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



203 



dred feet this side of a very pretty success ! If 
your men had gone a hundred feet farther you 
would have made a great charge, but as it is 
what a lot of mud diggers you've got any- 
way ! " 

The men, listening with bated breath, now 
turned their curious eyes upon the colonel. 
They had a ragamuffin interest in this affair. 

The colonel was seen to straighten his form 
and put one hand forth in oratorical fashion. 
He wore an injured air ; it was as if a deacon 
had been accused of stealing. The men were 
wiggling in an ecstasy of excitement. 

But of a sudden the colonel's manner changed 
from that of a deacon to that of a Frenchman. 
He shrugged his shoulders. " Oh, well, general, 
we went as far as we could,"he said calmly. 

"As far as you could? Did you, b'Gawd?" 
snorted the other. " Well, that wasn't very far, 
was it ? " he added,' with a glance of cold con- 
tempt into the other's eyes. " Not very far, I 
think. You were intended to make a diversion 
in favor of Whiterside. How well you succeeded 
your own ears can now tell you." He wheeled 
his horse and rode stiffly away. 

The colonel, bidden to hear the jarring noises 
of an engagement in the woods to the left, broke 
out in vague damnations. 



204 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

The lieutenant, who had listened with an afr 
of impotent rage to the interview, spoke suddenly 
in firm and undaunted tones. " I don't care what 
a man is whether he is a general or what if 
he says th' boys didn't put up a good fight out 
there he's a damned fool." 

" Lieutenant," began the colonel, severely, 
"this is my own affair, and I'll trouble you " 

The lieutenant made an obedient gesture. 
" All right, colonel, all right," he said. He sat 
down with an air of being content with him- 
self. 

The news that the regiment had been re- 
proached went along the line. For a time the 
men were bewildered by it. "Good thunder!" 
they ejaculated, staring at the vanishing form of 
the general. They conceived it to be a huge 
mistake. 

Presently, however, they began to believe that 
in truth their efforts had been called light. The 
youth could see this conviction weigh upon the 
entire regiment until the men were like cuffed 
and cursed animals, but withal rebellious. 

The friend, with a grievance in his eye, 
went to the youth. " I wonder what he does 
want," he said. " He must think we went out 
there an' played marbles! I never see sech a 
man ! " 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

The youth developed a tranquil philosophy 
for these moments of irritation. " Oh, well," he 
rejoined, " he probably didn't see nothing of it at 
all and got mad as blazes, and concluded we were 
a lot of sheep, just because we didn't do what he 
wanted done. It's a pity old Grandpa Hender- 
son got killed yestirday he'd have known that 
we did our best and fought good. It's just our 
awful luck, that's what." 

" I should say so," replied the friend. He 
seemed to be deeply wounded at an injustice. 
" I should say we did have awful luck ! There's 
no fun in fightin' fer people when everything 
yeh do no matter what ain't done right. I 
have a notion t' stay behind next time an' let 
'em take their ol' charge an' go t' th' devil 
with it." 

The youth spoke soothingly to his comrade. 
"Well, we both did good. I'd like to see the 
fool what'd say we both didn't do as good as we 
could ! " 

" Of course we did," declared the friend 
stoutly. " An' I'd break th' feller's neck if he was 
as big as a church. But we're all right, anyhow, 
for I heard one feller say that we two fit th' best 
in th' reg'ment, an' they had a great argument 
'bout it. Another feller, 'a course, he had t' up 
an.' say it was a lie he seen all what was goin' 



2o6 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

on an' he never seen us from th' beginnin' t' th' 
end. An' a lot more struck in an' ses it wasn't 
a lie we did fight like thunder, an' they give 
us quite a send-off. But this is what I can't 
stand these everlastin' ol' soldiers, titterin' an' 
laughin,' an' then that general, he's crazy." 

The youth exclaimed with sudden exaspera- 
tion : " He's a lunkhead ! He makes me mad. 
I wish he'd come along next time. We'd show 
'im what " 

He ceased because several men had come 
hurrying up. Their faces expressed a bringing 
of great news. 

" O Flem, yeh jest oughta heard ! " cried one, 
eagerly. 

" Heard what ? " said the youth. 

" Yeh jest oughta heard ! " repeated the other, 
and he arranged himself to tell his tidings. The 
others made an excited circle. " Well, sir, th' 
colonel met your lieutenant right by us it was 
damnedest thing I ever heard an' he ses : ' Ahem ! 
ahem ! ' he ses. * Mr. Hasbrouck ! ' he ses, * by 
th' way, who was that lad what carried th' flag?' 
he ses. There, Flemin', what d' yeh think 'a 
that? ' Who was th' lad what carried th' flag?' 
he ses, an' th' lieutenant, he speaks up right 
away : ' That's Flemin', an' he's a jimhickey,' he 
ses, right away. What? I say he did. 'A jim- 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 2O/ 

hickey/ he ses those 'r his words. He did, too. 
I say he did. If you kin tell this story better 
than I kin, go ahead an* tell it. Well, then, keep 
yer mouth shet. Th' lieutenant, he ses : ' He's a 
jimhickey/ an' th' colonel, he ses : * Ahem ! ahem ! 
he is, indeed, a very good man t' have, ahem ! He 
kep' th' flag 'way t* th' front. I saw 'im. He's a 
good un,' ses th' colonel. ' You bet,' ses th' lieu- 
tenant, ' he an* a feller named Wilson was at th' 
head 'a th' charge, an' howlin' like Indians all th' 
time,' he ses. * Head 'a th' charge all th' time/ 
he ses. ' A feller named Wilson,' he ses. There, 
Wilson, m'boy, put that in a letter an' send it 
hum t' yer mother, hay ? * A feller named Wil- 
son,' he ses. An* th' colonel, he ses : ' Were they, 
indeed ? Ahem ! ahem ! My sakes ! ' he ses. * At 
th' head 'a th' reg'ment ? ' he ses. ' They were/ 
ses th' lieutenant. * My sakes ! ' ses th' colonel. 
He ses : ' Well, well, well/ he ses, ' those two 
babies ? ' ' They were/ ses th' lieutenant. 
' Well, well/ ses th' colonel, ' they deserve t' be 
major generals/ he ses. ' They deserve t' be 
major-generals.' 

The youth and his friend had said : " Huh ! " 
"Yer lyin', Thompson." "Oh, go t' blazes!" 
" He never sed it." " Oh, what a lie !" "Huh!" 
But despite these youthful scoffings and embar- 
rassments, they knew that their faces were deeply 
14 



208 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

flushing from thrills of pleasure. They ex- 
changed a secret glance of joy and congratula- 
tion. 

They speedily forgot many things. The past 
held no pictures of error and disappointment. 
They were very happy, and their hearts swelled 
with grateful affection for the colonel and the 
youthful lieutenant. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

WHEN the woods again began to pour forth 
the dark-hued masses of the enemy the youth felt 
serene self-confidence. He smiled briefly when 
he saw men dodge and duck at the long screech- 
ings of shells that were thrown in giant handfuls 
over them. He stood, erect and tranquil, watch- 
ing the attack begin against a part of the line 
that made a blue curve along the side of an adja- 
cent hill. His vision being unmolested by smoke 
from the rifles of his companions, he had oppor- 
tunities to see parts of the hard fight. It was a 
relief to perceive at last from whence came some 
of these noises which had been roared into his 
ears. 

Off a short way he saw two regiments fight- 
ing a little separate battle with two other regi- 
ments. It was in a cleared space, wearing a set- 
apart look. They were blazing as if upon a 
wager, giving and taking tremendous blows. 

The firings were incredibly fierce and rapid. 

209 



2io THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

These intent regiments apparently were oblivious 
of all larger purposes of war, and were slugging 
each other as if at a matched game. 

In another direction he saw a magnificent 
brigade going with the evident intention of driv- 
ing the enemy from a wood. They passed in out 
of sight and presently there was a most awe-in- 
spiring racket in the wood. The noise was un- 
speakable. Having stirred this prodigious up- 
roar, and, apparently, finding it too prodigious, 
the brigade, after a little time, came marching 
airily out again with its fine formation in nowise 
disturbed. There were no traces of speed in its 
movements. The brigade was jaunty and seemed 
to point a proud thumb at the yelling wood. 

On a slope to the left there was a long row of 
guns, gruff and maddened, denouncing the 
enemy, who, down through the woods, were 
forming for another attack in the pitiless mo- 
notony of conflicts. The round red discharges 
from the guns made a crimson flare and a high, 
thick smoke. Occasional glimpses could be 
caught of groups of the toiling artillerymen. In 
the rear of this row of guns stood a house, calm 
and white, amid bursting shells. A congregation 
of horses, tied to a long railing, were tugging 
frenziedly at their bridles. Men were running 
hither and thither. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 211 

The detached battle between the four regi- 
ments lasted for some time. There chanced to 
be no interference, and they settled their dispute 
by themselves. They struck savagely and pow- 
erfully at each other for a period of minutes, and 
then the lighter-hued regiments faltered and 
drew back, leaving the dark-blue lines shouting. 
The youth could see the two flags shaking with 
laughter amid the smoke remnants. 

Presently there was a stillness, pregnant with 
meaning. The blue lines shifted and changed a 
trifle and stared expectantly at the silent woods 
and fields before them. The hush was solemn 
and churchtike, save for a distant battery that, 
evidently unable to remain quiet, sent a faint 
rolling thunder over the ground. It irritated, 
like the noises of unimpressed boys. The men 
imagined that it would prevent their perched 
ears from hearing the first words of the new 
battle. 

Of a sudden the guns on the slope roared out 
a message of warning. A spluttering sound had 
begun in the woods. It swelled with amazing 
speed to a profound clamor that involved the 
earth in noises. The splitting crashes swept 
along the lines until an interminable roar was 
developed. To those in the midst of it it became 
a din fitted to the universe. It was the whirring 



212 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

and thumping of gigantic machinery, complica- 
tions among the smaller stars. The youth's ears 
were filled up. They were incapable of hearing 
more. 

On an incline over which a road wound he 
saw wild and desperate rushes of men perpet- 
ually backward and forward in riotous surges. 
These parts of the opposing armies were two 
long waves that pitched upon each other madly 
at dictated points. To and fro they swelled. 
Sometimes, one side by its yells and cheers would 
proclaim decisive blows, but a moment later 
the other side would be all yells and cheers. 
Once the youth saw a spray of light forms go in 
houndlike leaps toward the waving blue lines. 
There was much howling, and presently it went 
away with a vast mouthful of prisoners. Again, 
he saw a blue wave dash with such thunderous 
force against a gray obstruction that it seemed to 
clear the earth of it and leave nothing but 
trampled sod. And always in their swift and 
deadly rushes to and fro the men screamed 
and yelled like maniacs. 

Particular pieces of fence or secure positions 
behind collections of trees were wrangled over, 
as gold thrones or pearl bedsteads. There were 
desperate lunges at these chosen spots seemingly 
every instant, and most of them were bandied like 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 213 

light toys between the contending forces. The 
youth could not tell from the battle flags flying 
like crimson foam in many directions which color 
of cloth was winning. 

His emaciated regiment bustled forth with 
undiminished fierceness when its time came. 
When assaulted again by bullets, the men burst 
out in a barbaric cry of rage and pain. They 
bent their heads in aims of intent hatred 
behind the projected hammers of their guns. 
Their ramrods clanged loud with fury as their 
eager arms pounded the cartridges into the rifle 
barrels. The front of the regiment was a smoke- 
wall penetrated by the flashing points of yellow 
and red. 

Wallowing in the fight, they were in an 
astonishingly short time resmudged. They 
surpassed in stain and dirt all their previous ap- 
pearances. Moving to and fro with strained 
exertion, jabbering the while, they were, with 
their swaying bodies, black faces, and glowing 
eyes, like strange and ugly friends jigging heavily 
in the smoke. 

The lieutenant, returning from a tour after a 
bandage, produced from a hidden receptacle of 
his mind new and portentous oaths suited to the 
emergency. Strings of expletives he swung 
lashlike over the backs of his men, and it was 



214 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

evident that his previous efforts had in nowise 
impaired his resources. 

The youth, still the bearer of the colors, did 
not feel his idleness. He was deeply absorbed as 
a spectator. The crash and swing of the great 
drama made him lean forward, intent-eyed, his 
face working in small contortions. Sometimes he 
prattled, words coming unconsciously from him 
in grotesque exclamations. He did not know 
that he breathed ; that the flag hung silently over 
him, so absorbed was he. 

A formidable line of the enemy came within 
dangerous range. They could be seen plainly 
tall, gaunt men with excited faces running with 
long strides toward a wandering fence. 

At sight of this danger the men suddenly 
ceased their cursing monotone. There was an 
instant of strained silence before they threw up 
their rifles and fired a plumping volley at the 
foes. There had been no order given ; the men, 
upon recognizing the menace, had immedi- 
ately let drive their flock of bullets without wait- 
ing for word of command. 

But the enemy were quick to gain the protec- 
tion of the wandering line of fence. They slid down 
behind it with remarkable celerity, and from this 
position they began briskly to slice up the blue men. 

These latter braced their energies for a great 






THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



215 



struggle. Often, white clinched teeth shone 
from the dusky faces. Many heads surged to 
and fro, floating upon a pale sea of smoke. 
Those behind the fence frequently shouted and 
yelped in taunts and gibelike cries, but the regi- 
ment maintained a stressed silence. Perhaps, at 
this new assault the men recalled the fact that 
they had been named mud diggers, and it made 
their situation thrice bitter. They were breath- 
lessly intent upon keeping the ground and thrust- 
ing away the rejoicing body of the enemy. They 
fought swiftly and with a despairing savageness 
denoted in their expressions. 

The youth had resolved not to budge what- 
ever should happen. Some arrows of scorn that 
had buried themselves in his heart had generated 
strange and unspeakable hatred. It was clear 
to him that his final and absolute revenge was to 
be achieved by his dead body lying, torn and 
gluttering, upon the field. This was to be a 
poignant retaliation upon the officer who had 
said " mule drivers," and later " mud diggers," 
for in all the wild graspings of his mind for a 
unit responsible for his sufferings and commo- 
tions he always seized upon the man who had 
dubbed him wrongly. And it was his idea, 
vaguely formulated, that his corpse would be for 
those eyes a great and salt reproach. 



2i6 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

The regiment bled extravagantly. Grunting 
bundles of blue began to drop. The orderly 
sergeant of the youth's company was shot through 
the cheeks. Its supports being injured, his jaw 
hung afar down, disclosing in the wide cavern of 
his mouth a pulsing mass of blood and teeth. 
And with it all he made attempts to cry out. 
In his endeavor there was a dreadful earnestness, 
as if he conceived that one great shriek would 
make him well. 

The youth saw him presently go rearward. 
His strength seemed in nowise impaired. He 
ran swiftly, casting wild glances for succor. 

Others fell down about the feet of their com- 
panions. Some of the wounded crawled out and 
away, but many lay still, their bodies twisted into 
impossible shapes. 

The youth looked once for his friend. He 
saw a vehement young man, powder-smeared and 
frowzled, whom he knew to be him. The lieu- 
tenant, also, was unscathed in his position at the 
rear. He had continued to curse, but it was now 
with the air of a man who was using his last box 
of oaths. 

For the fire of the regiment had begun to 
wane and drip. The robust voice, that had come 
strangely from the thin ranks, was growing 
rapidly weak. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

THE colonel came running along back of the 
line. There were other officers following him. 
" We must charge'm ! " they shouted. " We must 
charge'rn ! " they cried with resentful voices, as 
if anticipating a rebellion against this plan by the 
men. 

The youth, upon hearing the shouts, began to 
study the distance between him and the enemy. 
He made vague calculations. He saw that to be 
firm soldiers they must go forward. It would be 
death to stay in the present place, and with all 
the circumstances to go backward would exalt 
too many others. Their hope was to push the 
galling foes away from the fence. 

He expected that his companions, weary and 
stiffened, would have to be driven to this assault, 
but as he turned toward them he perceived with 
a certain surprise that they were giving quick 
and unqualified expressions of assent. There was 

an ominous, clanging overture to the charge 

217 



2i8 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

when the shafts of the bayonets rattled upon the 
rifle barrels. At the yelled words of command 
the soldiers sprang forward in eager leaps. 
There was new and unexpected force in the 
movement of the regiment. A knowledge of its 
faded and jaded condition made the charge ap- 
pear like a paroxysm, a display of the strength 
that comes before a final feebleness. The men 
scampered in insane fever of haste, racing as if to 
achieve a sudden success before an exhilarating 
fluid should leave them. It was a blind and de- 
spairing rush by the collection of men in dusty 
and tattered blue, over a green sward and under 
a sapphire sky, toward a fence, dimly outlined in 
smoke, from behind which spluttered the fierce 
rifles of enemies. 

The youth kept the bright colors to the front. 
He was waving his free arm in furious circles, 
the while shrieking mad calls and appeals, urging 
on those that did not need to be urged, for it 
seemed that the mob of blue men hurling them- 
selves on the dangerous group of rifles were 
again grown suddenly wild with an enthusiasm of 
unselfishness. From the many firings starting 
toward them, it looked as if they would merely 
succeed in making a great sprinkling of corpses 
on the grass between their former position and 
the fence. But they were in a state of frenzy, 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



2I 9 



perhaps because of forgotten vanities, and it made 
an exhibition of sublime recklessness. There was 
no obvious questioning, nor figurings, nor dia- 
grams. There was, apparently, no considered 
loopholes. It appeared that the swift wings of 
their desires would have shattered against the 
iron gates of the impossible. 

He himself felt the daring spirit of a savage 
religion-mad. He was capable of profound sacri- 
fices, a tremendous death. He had no time for 
dissections, but he knew that he thought of the 
bullets only as things that could prevent him 
from reaching the place of his endeavor. There 
were subtle flashings of joy within him that thus 
should be his mind. 

He strained all his strength. His eyesight 
was shaken and dazzled by the tension of thought 
and muscle. He did not see anything excepting 
the mist of smoke gashed by the little knives of 
fire, but he knew that in it lay the aged fence of a 
vanished farmer protecting the snuggled bodies 
of the gray men. 

As he ran a thought of the shock of contact 
gleamed in his mind. He expected a great con- 
cussion when the two bodies of troops crashed 
together. This became a part of his wild battle 
madness. He could feel the onward swing of the 
regiment about him and he conceived of a thun- 



220 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

derous, crushing blow that would prostrate the 
resistance and spread consternation and amaze- 
ment for miles. The flying regiment was going 
to have a catapultian effect. This dream made 
him run faster among his comrades, who were 
giving vent to hoarse and frantic cheers. 

But presently he could see that many of the 
men in gray did not intend to abide the blow. 
The smoke, rolling, disclosed men who ran, their 
faces still turned. These grew to a crowd, who 
retired stubbornly. Individuals wheeled fre- 
quently to send a bullet at the blue wave. 

But at one part pf the line there was a grim 
and obdurate group that made no movement. 
They were settled firmly down behind posts and 
rails. A flag, ruffled and fierce, waved over them 
and their rifles dinned fiercely. 

The blue whirl of men got very near, until 
it seemed that in truth there would be a close 
and frightful scuffle. There was an expressed 
disdain in the opposition of the little group, 
that changed the meaning of the cheers of the 
men in blue. They became yells of wrath, 
directed, personal. The cries of the two parties 
were now in sound an interchange of scathing 
insults. 

They in blue showed their teeth ; their eyes 
shone all white. They launched themselves as at 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 2 2I 

the throats of those who stood resisting. The 
space between dwindled to an insignificant dis- 
tance. 

The youth had centered the gaze of his soul 
upon that other flag. Its possession would be 
high pride. It would express bloody minglings, 
near blows. He had a gigantic hatred for those 
who made great difficulties and complications. 
They caused it to be as a craved treasure of my- 
thology, hung amid tasks and contrivances of 
danger. 

He plunged like a mad horse at it. He was 
resolved it should not escape if wild blows and 
darings of blows could seize it. His own em- 
blem, quivering and aflare, was winging toward 
the other. It seemed there would shortly be 
an encounter of strange beaks and claws, as of 
eagles. 

The swirling body of blue men came to a 
sudden halt at close and disastrous range and 
roared a swift volley. The group in gray was 
split and broken by this fire, but its riddled body 
still fought. The men in blue yelled again and 
rushed in upon it. 

The youth, in his leapings, saw, as through a 
mist, a picture of four or five men stretched upon 
the ground or writhing upon their knees with 
bowed heads as if they had been stricken by bolts 



222 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

from the sky. Tottering among them was the 
rival color bearer, whom the youth saw had been 
bitten vitally by the bullets of the last formidable 
volley. He perceived this man fighting a last 
struggle, the struggle of one whose legs are 
grasped by demons. It was a ghastly battle. 
Over his face was the bleach of death, but set 
upon it was the dark and hard lines of desperate 
purpose. With this terrible grin of resolution he 
hugged his precious flag to him and was stum- 
bling and staggering in his design to go the way 
that led to safety for it. 

But his wounds always made it seem that his 
feet were retarded, held, and he fought a grim 
fight, as with invisible ghouls fastened greedily 
upon his limbs. Those in advance of the scam- 
pering blue men, howling cheers, leaped at the 
fence. The despair of the lost was in his eyes as 
he glanced back at them. 

The youth's friend went over the obstruction 
in a tumbling heap and sprang at the flag as a 
panther at prey. He pulled at it and, wrench- 
ing it free, swung up its red brilliancy with a 
mad cry of exultation even as the color bearer, 
gasping, lurched over in a final throe and, stiff- 
ening convulsively, turned his dead face to the 
ground. There was much blood upon the grass 
blades. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



223 



At the place of success there began more wild 
clamorings of cheers. The men gesticulated and 
bellowed in an ecstasy. When they spoke it was 
as if they considered their listener to be a mile 
away. What hats and caps were left to them 
they often slung high in the air. 

At one part of the line four men had been 
swooped upon, and they now sat as prisoners. 
Some blue men were about them in an eager and 
curious circle. The soldiers had trapped strange 
birds, and there was an examination. A flurry of 
fast questions was in the air. 

One of the prisoners was nursing a superficial 
wound in the foot. He cuddled it, baby-wise, 
but he looked up from it often to curse with an 
astonishing utter abandon straight at the noses of 
his captors. He consigned them to red regions ; 
he called upon the pestilential wrath of strange 
gods. And with it all he was singularly free 
from recognition of the finer points of the con- 
duct of prisoners of war. It was as if a clumsy 
clod had trod upon his toe and he conceived it to 
be his privilege, his duty, to use deep, resentful 
oaths. 

Another, who was -a boy in years, took his 
plight with great calmness and apparent good 
nature. He conversed with the men in blue, 

studying their faces with his bright and keen 
15 



224 THE RED BAE) GE OF COURAGE. 

eyes. They spoke of battles and conditions. 
There was an acute interest in all their faces dur- 
ing this exchange of view points. It seemed a 
great satisfaction to hear voices from where all 
had been darkness and speculation. 

The third captive sat with a morose counte- 
nance. He preserved a stoical and cold attitude. 
To all advances he made one reply without varia- 
tion, " Ah, go t' hell ! " 

The last of the four was always silent and, 
for the most part, kept his face turned in un- 
molested directions. From the views the youth 
received he seemed to be in a state of absolute 
dejection. Shame was upon him, and with it 
profound regret that he was, perhaps, no more 
to be counted in the ranks of his fellows. The 
youth could detect no expression that would 
allow him to believe that the other was giving 
a thought to his narrowed future, the pictured 
dungeons, perhaps, and starvations and brutali- 
ties, liable to the imagination. All to be seen 
was shame for captivity and regret for the right 
to antagonize. 

After the men had celebrated sufficiently they 
settled down behind the old rail fence, on the 
opposite side to the one from which their foes 
had been driven. A few shot perfunctorily at 
distant marks. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 225 

There was some long grass. The youth 
nestled in it and rested, making a convenient rail 
support the flag. His friend, jubilant and glori- 
fied, holding his treasure with vanity, came to 
him there. They sat side by side and congratu- 
lated each other. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

THE roarings that had stretched in a long line 
of sound across the face of the forest began to 
grow intermittent and weaker. The stentorian 
speeches of the artillery continued in some dis- 
tant encounter, but the crashes of the musketry 
had almost ceased. The youth and his friend of 
a sudden looked up, feeling a deadened form of 
distress at the waning of these noises, which had 
become a part of life. They could see changes 
going on among the troops. There were march- 
ings this way and that way. A battery wheeled 
leisurely. On the crest of a small hill was the 
thick gleam of many departing muskets. 

The youth arose. " Well, what now, I won- 
der?" he said. By his tone he seemed to be 
preparing to resent some new monstrosity in 
the way of dins and smashes. He shaded his 
eyes with his grimy hand and gazed over the 
field. 

His friend also arose and stared. " I bet 
226 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



227 



we're goin' t' git along out of this an' back over 
th* river," said he. 

" Well, I swan ! " said the youth. 

They waited, watching. Within a little while 
the regiment received orders to retrace its way. 
The men got up grunting from the grass, regret- 
ting the soft repose. They jerked their stiffened 
legs, and stretched their arms over their heads. 
One man swore as he rubbed his eyes. They all 
groaned " O Lord ! " They had as many objec- 
tions to this change as they would have had to a 
proposal for a new battle. 

They trampled slowly back over the field 
across which they had run in a mad scamper. 

The regiment marched until it had joined its 
fellows. The reformed brigade, in column, aimed 
through a wood at the road. Directly they were 
in a mass of dust-covered troops, and were 
trudging along in a way parallel to the enemy's 
lines as these had been defined by the previous 
turmoil. 

They passed within view of a stolid white 
house, and saw in front of it groups of their com- 
rades lying in wait behind a neat breastwork. A 
row of guns were booming at a distant enemy. 
Shells thrown in reply were raising clouds of 
dust and splinters. Horsemen dashed along the 
line of intrenchments. 



228 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

At this point of its march the division curved 
away from the field and went winding off in the 
direction of the river. When the significance of 
this movement had impressed itself upon the 
youth he turned his head and looked over his 
shoulder toward the trampled and debris-strewed 
ground. He breathed a breath of new satisfac- 
tion. He finally nudged his friend. " Well, it's 
all over," he said to him. 

His friend gazed backward. " B'Gawd, it 
is," he assented. They mused. 

For a time the youth was obliged to reflect 
in a puzzled and uncertain way. His mind was 
undergoing a subtle change. It took moments 
for it to cast off its battleful ways and resume 
its accustomed course of thought. Gradually his 
brain emerged from the clogged clouds, and at 
last he was enabled to more closely compre- 
hend himself and circumstance. 

He understood then that the existence of shot 
and counter-shot was in the past. He had dwelt 
in a land of strange, squalling upheavals and had 
come forth. He had been where there was red 
of blood and black of passion, and he was es- 
caped. His first thoughts were given to rejoic- 
ings at this fact. 

Later he began to study his deeds, his fail- 
ures, and his achievements. Thus, fresh from 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



229 



scenes where many of his usual machines of re- 
flection had been idle, from where he had pro- 
ceeded sheeplike, he struggled to marshal all his 
acts. 

At last they marched before him clearly. 
From this present view point he was enabled 
to look upon them in spectator fashion and 
to criticise them with some correctness, for his 
new condition had already defeated certain sym- 
pathies. 

Regarding his procession of memory he felt 
gleeful and unregretting, for in it his public deeds 
were paraded in great and shining prominence. 
Those performances which had been witnessed 
by his fellows marched now in wide purple and 
gold, having various deflections. They went 
gayly with music. It was pleasure to watch these 
things. He spent delightful minutes viewing the 
gilded images of memory. 

He saw that he was good. He recalled with 
a thrill of joy the respectful comments of his fel- 
lows upon his conduct. 

Nevertheless, the ghost of his flight from 
the first engagement appeared to him and 
danced. There were small shoutings in his 
brain about these matters. For a moment he 
blushed, and the light of his soul flickered with 
shame. 



230 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

A specter of reproach came to him. There 
loomed the dogging memory of the tattered 
soldier he who, gored by bullets and faint for 
blood, had fretted concerning an imagined wound 
in another ; he who had loaned his last of strength 
and intellect for the tall soldier; he who, blind 
with weariness and pain, had been deserted in 
the field. 

For an instant a wretched chill of sweat was 
upon him at the thought that he might be 
detected in the thing. As he stood persistently 
before his vision, he gave vent to a cry of sharp 
irritation and agony. 

His friend turned. "What's the matter, 
Henry ? " he demanded. The youth's reply was 
an outburst of crimson oaths. 

As he marched along the little branch-hung 
roadway among his prattling companions this 
vision of cruelty brooded over him. It clung 
near him always and darkened his view of these 
deeds in purple and gold. Whichever way his 
thoughts turned they were followed by the 
somber phantom of the desertion in the fields. 
He looked stealthily at his companions, feeling 
sure that they must discern in his face evidences 
of this pursuit. But they were plodding in 
ragged array, discussing with quick tongues the 
accomplishments of the late battle. 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 231 

"Oh, if a man should come up an' ask me, I'd 
say we got a dum good lickin'." 

" Lickin' in yer eye ! We ain't licked, sonny. 
We're goin' down here aways, swing aroun', an' 
come in behint 'em." 

" Oh, hush, with your comin' in behint 'em. 
I've seen all 'a that I wanta. Don't tell me about 
comin' in behint " 

" Bill Smithers, he ses he'd rather been in 
ten hundred battles than been in that heluva 
hospital. He ses they got shootin' in th' night- 
time, an' shells dropped plum among 'em in th' 
hospital. He ses sech hollerin' he never see." 

" Hasbrouck ? He's th' best off'cer in this 
here reg'ment. He's a whale." 

" Didn't I tell yeh we'd come aroun' in behint 
'em? Didn't I tell yeh so ? We " 

"Oh, shet yeh mouth ! " 

For a time this pursuing recollection of the 
tattered man took all elation from the youth's 
veins. He saw his vivid error, and he was afraid 
that it would stand before him all his life. He 
took no share in the chatter of his comrades, nor 
did he look at them or know them, save when he 
felt sudden suspicion that they were seeing his 
thoughts and scrutinizing each detail of the scene 
with the tattered soldier. 

Yet gradually he mustered force to put the sin 



232 THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 

at a distance. And at last his eyes seemed to 
open to some new ways. He found that he could 
look back upon the brass and bombast of his 
earlier gospels and see them truly. He was 
gleeful when he discovered that he now despised 
them. 

With this conviction came a store of assur- 
ance. He felt a quiet manhood, nonassertive but 
of sturdy and strong blood. He knew that he 
would no more quail before his guides wher- 
ever they should point. He had been to touch 
the great death, and found that, after all, it was 
but the great death. He was a man. 

So it came to pass that as he trudged from 
the place of blood and wrath his soul changed, 
He came from hot plowshares to prospects of 
clover tranquilly, and it was as if hot plowshares 
were not. Scars faded as flowers. 

It rained. The procession of weary soldiers 
became a bedraggled train, despondent and 
muttering, marching with churning effort in a 
trough of liquid brown mud under a low, 
wretched sky. Yet the youth smiled, for he saw 
that the world was a world for him, though many 
discovered it to be made of oaths and walking 
sticks. He had rid himself of the red sickness of 
battle. The sultry nightmare was in the past. 
He had been an animal blistered and sweating in 



THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. 



233 



the heat and pain of war. He turned now with a 
lover's thirst to images of tranquil skies, fresh 
meadows, cool brooks an existence of soft and 
eternal peace. 

Over the river a golden ray of sun came 
through the hosts of leaden rain clouds. 



THE END, 



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great social, industrial, and economical changes, whether they hope for or 
fear them, will find ' Equality ' the most absorbing reading. The ready sale 
of the first installment of the book shows how real and general the concern 
in these questions has grown to be." Springfield Republican. 



D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK.