The Red Badge of Courage
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The Red Badge of Courage is a war novel by American author Stephen Crane (1871–1900). Taking place during the American Civil War, the story is about a young private of the Union Army, Henry Fleming, who flees from the field of battle. Overcome with shame, he longs for a wound, a "red badge of courage," to counteract his cowardice. When his regiment once again faces the enemy, Henry acts as standard-bearer. Although Crane was born after the war, and had not at the time experienced battle first-hand, the novel is known for its realism. He began writing what would become his second novel in 1893, using various contemporary and written accounts (such as those published previously by Century Magazine) as inspiration. It is believed that he based the fictional battle on that of Chancellorsville; he may also have interviewed veterans of the 124th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commonly known as the Orange Blossoms. Initially shortened and serialized in newspapers in December 1894, the novel was published in full in October 1895. A longer version of the work, based on Crane's original manuscript, was published in 1982.
no hostile bayonets appeared 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 imagination 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
he expected an attempt to push him to the ground. He unconsciously assumed the attitude of the color bearer in the fight of the preceding 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
way. The men got up grunting from the grass, regretting 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 objections 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
His canteen 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 sentences: “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
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 skirmishers 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