The Red Badge of Courage

ISBN: 0140620893
ISBN 13: 9780140620894
By: Stephen Crane

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About this book

Henry Fleming, a raw Union Army recruit in the American Civil War, is anxious to confirm his patriotism and manhood - to earn his "badge of courage." But, his dreams of heroism and invulnerability are soon shattered when he flees the Confederate enemy during his baptism of fire and then witnesses the horrible death of a friend. Plunged unwillingly into the nightmare of war, Fleming survives by sheer luck and instinct.

Reader's Thoughts

Henry Avila

The Battle of Chancellorsville,in northern Virginia, 1863,one of the bloodiest,24,000 casualties,of the war between the states, is the focus of this novel.Henry Fleming a farm boy, not yet a man, from New York State, goes off to fight during the American Civil War. Against the tearful pleading of his widow mother,not to,Henry out of patriotism or boredom, wants to join the Union Army.Many months pass,of training and marching, until Fleming gets into action.Some of his friends,boys he grew up with, are in the 304th regiment with him.Camp life,living mostly in tents,little food,nothing to do,unsanitary living conditions ,constant marching to different sites.The veterans call the newcomers "Fresh Fish".Wondering if he'll be brave or a coward in the conflict.Finally the youth see's war.The charging rebels from out of the woods, bring fear to his very soul.And Fleming caring little about glory, his friends or the regiment, runs away !Runs like the little boy he really is.Only he just wants to survive.Meeting many wounded soldiers,in the back of the line.Some who will not live long,including his close friend ,who Fleming watches fall mortally down on the ground. They ask him uncomfortable questions, where was he hit! Leaving them as fast and unobtrusively as possible.Wandering around aimlessly, Henry heads for a nearby forest,trying to get away from the ugly war.The sounds of battle are muted by the trees.Only a short distance from the struggle,as if all the world was a peaceful place,and is a sanctuary for him .But Henry can't get very far from reality.A Union soldier,propped up against a tree,stares with his dead eyes at the deserter.An insect crawling over his face.Henry decides to get back to his regiment but ironically is hit in the head,with a rifle butt. By a man in a blue uniform, Fleming was in the way,causing blood to flow.His Red Badge of Courage. Arriving home,with the help of an unknown soldier, nobody had noticed his cowardliness.They thought he was dead and bandage his "war wound".Next day another scrimmage.Fleming feels different now,comradeship with his fellow soldiers,as close as brothers,Henry never experienced such emotions ,he even leads the charge, has he become a man?

David Johnson

The book "Red Badge of Courage" by Stephen Crane is a good book. Henry is a farmer boy, who wants to join the war. When he joins he and his platoon just march around and don't do anything. Henry's platoon is resting and they think they are going to fight soon. They don't fight until later on in the book. When they do fight, most of the men run away. Henry gets stuck with a bunch of wounded men, because he lost his company. He finds his friend, Jim. Jim dies because his wound is really bad. Later on in the book Henry becomes the flag carrier because of his bravery and courage. The characters in the book are Henry, who is a teenager. He works on his parent's farm, until the war. Henry's friend, Jim, is in the same platoon as him. Then there is the loud mouth friend named, Wilson. Wilson makes it through the war with Henry and those two are best buds. The place of the book is in the Civil War times. The South is trying to secede from the North. The setting of the book is in the summer. Everyone one is hot and tired. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes history or nice short war stories. This is an easy read and very easy to understand. It is not hard to comprehend. There are some bad words but not a lot.


This novel is basically about a young man who goes to war. Written by an author who had never experienced war but believed he could write a better war novel than was currently available. If history is any indication - he did as the book is a classic (which is why I read it).I enjoyed this tale! I would definately recommend it. I don't want to talk too much about what our protagonist goes through so will keep this review very brief.The writing style was pretty fluid and the story was very easy to read. However, keep in mind I'm not reading these books with a critical eye instead I'm just trying to enjoy the story that is being told. I would say Crane did some deep soul searching to get a grip on how his character should handle his first, and subsequent, encounters with actual battle. However, at the same time it seems clear, based on some of the events in the book, that he had no real idea of what life as a solider is like. For a guy who had never seen war though he did a great job.

Caelea Armstrong

My dad likes to read books about war, and so Red Badge seemed to me at the time like a junior version of the volumes of Civil War books my father studied. I read it and I thought it was okay but it didn't really move me or stick with me after I returned it to the library. Several years later, I was reading this book with my students in an American Lit class and I felt so discouraged because they so vocally hated it, and I was trying to make it real for them by dressing up our room as an army camp and having them march in formation to Fort Vending Machine down the hall, but the only thing that motivated them was just to finish the book and get rid of it. (We had a military funeral with TAPS when that happened.) I don't know if it's that the story is so hard to comprehend or if it was my failure as a new teacher or what. It is a heavy little story. I think it is one that we should read, especially with what is going on in the world today, but it may be hard to read at you want to put the book down, but you force yourself to finish the chapter first. I guess that's not much of an endorsement.


Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage inspired me.In the beginning, Henry Fleming enters the army with strong romantic feelings about war. After experiencing the realities of army life, he becomes plagued by doubts and fears.Henry wakes from a brief nap to find that the enemy is again charging his regiment. Terror overtakes him this time and he leaps up and flees the line. As he runs across the field, he tells himself that he made the right decision, that his regiment could not have won, and that the men who remained to fight were fools.Later on, Henry passes a group of wounded soldiers. He is deeply envious of these men, thinking that their wounds are like “a red badge of courage". He meets a tattered man who has been shot twice and who speaks proudly of the fact that his regiment did not flee. He repeatedly asks Henry where he is wounded, which makes Henry deeply uncomfortable because he has no wounds to show.After Henry is hit over the head during his flight from the front he is able to clarify his understanding of his role of what it means to be a soldier. He overcomes his fears and quilt to become one of the fiercest, most aggressive soldiers in the regiment. He accepts duty by showing the confidence and courage required to be a soldier.Next, a good theme for The Red Badge of Courage would be never to give up. Henry was afraid of the war ,but later on he realized he could make a difference and he over came his fears.In conclusion, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who is trying to over a fear or hardship in life.


I read this in High School and thought it might be nice to read again without the pressure, knowing it is my choice to pick it up whenever I want. It's much better than I remember and I'm really enjoying it. I finished it yesterday and was glad I read it again. If the book had been longer though, it would have been too long for me. It was interesting to go into the mind of someone at war. Apparently civil war veterans said it was a very accurate portrayal.

Moses Kilolo

When Henry Flemming set off to join the war, he perhaps did not have a clear picture of what lay before him, what his decision meant. Like every other young man (across the divide of time and circumstance) he envisions his return as a hero - an achieved man. but does he pause to consider the damn hardship of the battlefield? Perhaps not! At some point he actually runs, but his conscience torments him. A series of happenings (accidental- i think) push him back to track, and there he tries to prove his manhood.I find that the power of this war novel is not really in the story, but in how it is rendered. Crane's prose (though at some point overly descriptive) is to the large extend exquisite. So also his portrayals of the internal conflict of this youth. The Language is beautiful, and makes this, a not so simple and straightforward novel, a worthy read.Cool line:He turned now with a lover's thirst to images of tranquil skies, fresh meadows, cool brooks - an existence of soft and eternal peace.


I have no idea how this average review can be 3/5. The Red Badge of Courage is one of many books that address fear in the face of death. Henry, a brand new and young soldier in the Civil War, doesn't know how he will react to battle. When his regiment charges the enemy, Henry defects. He is ashamed, but through a variety of circumstances and enormous personal growth (we love this in our novels) becomes a hero among the soldiers of his regiment.This book made popular the term 'red badge of courage' as it applies to an injury received in battle. It is recommended for all new Marine recruits because it examines how first-time soldiers, most who have never shot a rifle at another man much less killed someone, would feel thrown into battle. The main character, Henry, likely reacts as many of us would and many did, so most readers relate to his series of events.Though published in 1895, this book remains an icon of American literature. It is a standard allusion in other writing (akin to 'waiting for Godot'). To be considered educated, adults must read this book to fully understand other writing they'll face. Not only the allusion to 'red badge of courage', but the need of warriors to appear brave in the face of battle, to claim courage as a means of bolstering their reputation and personal identity. We see it often in political figures. I can think of two (I'll leave them unnamed, but you know who I mean) whose prowess in battle is questionable though they claimed the mantle of hero. It's safe to say that mankind's roots remained entangled with our battles, our courage, and our ability to be damaged and survive. I guess relevancy to people dropped their rating. If we can't relate to mind-numbing fear and how we would move forward under its influence, I suppose it would be considered 'boring' or 'irrelevant'. To men, even if I may never face a circumstance where I must do the right thing even when every nerve in my body wants me to do something else, I think this book is important to read. How else would I understand the allusions to it in news articles and conversation?

Christine E.

I first read this as a very young kid (I was no more than 8 years old). I thought it was amazing then, and I re-read it when I was in my 20's and appreciated it even more. However I doubt I'll be up for another re-read anytime soon, because I can't handle harrowing stories of war the way I once could, even ones as beautifully written as this one. But there will always be a place for it on my bookshelf. Um ... or in one of my many boxes of books that hasn't yet been unpacked after 3 years in our house because we are out of shelf space. So I'm pleased to be able to give it a place of honor here in my virtual library.


On a day in May of 1863, Private Henry Fleming went on walkabout from his regiment, the 304th New York Infantry, on the battlefield of Chancellorsville. Except we don't really know all that. We are not told of "Fighting Joe" Hooker, of all his eclat and bluster, and of his ultimate failure upon being flanked by the Confederates. All we know if the war being waged in the mind and heart of one New York private, a farm boy who says "yeh" instead of "you," and who fancies himself a hero but who has not quite yet come to terms with with raging red beast that is war. Henry does not actually run from battle: He wanders from battle, eventually meeting up with one of his comrades, Bill Conklin, the "Tall Man," who dies in his presence. Then he wanders back to his regiment (with some help), and takes up his musket again.In the meantime, a change has taken place in the New York private:With the conviction came a store of assurance. He felt a quiet manhood, non-assertive but of sturdy and strong blood. He knew that he would no more quail before his guides wherever 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 manIn the end, we seem him carrying his unit's colors into battle and even stealing the colors of the Rebel unit he is fighting. This book, Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage: An Episode of the American Civil War foreshadows -- and even beats to hell -- Ernest Hemingway ... and Hemingway knew it! Who knows what Crane would have done had he not died so young of tuberculosis? As it is, he has left behind a body of work that will never be forgoten -- even if it takes a while for some people to realize this.This particular edition is highly recommended because of the excellent introduction by Civil War Historian Shelby Foote.

Jane Pierre

"The shells which had ceased to trouble the regiment for a time, came swirling again, and exploded in the grass or among the leaves of the trees. They looked to be strange war flowers bursting into fierce bloom." Taken from the book The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, these sentences provide the beginning descriptions of an action-filled scene with glows from gun shells showering a resting regiment. The author does not fail to give blurbs of the scenery and of the soldiers throughout the book; the descriptions are so clear, one might believe he or she is on the sidelines observing the characters. I belive that another major part of the story is that the main character, Henry Fleming, must win the war within himself and to win the war around him. Helen Keller once said, "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved." This is a perfect example of the ordeal the Henry has while in his regiment. From the beginning he struggles with the army life during the Civil War and whether or not he made a fatal mistake in enlisting. With the great character development, the use of image-filled words and the vernacular of this time, The Red Badge of Courage is a good read. Henry Fleming, mostly mentioned in the story as "the youth", grew up raising farm animals. Eventhough his mother defied the thought of her son fighting in the war, nevertheless, he enlists into the army. Henry "ain't never been away from home much." With that in mind, his mother fears those who would make her child wild by "a-learnig" him how to drink and swear. In the first few chapters, Henry is irritable because at first the regiment is stationed by a river for a long period and then day after day, it has to walk over all the surrounding land. Going by what Helen Keller said, Henry could not figure out his true potential and how brave he was because he had not done any fighting. Crane provides a great number of views into Henry's mind such as in this text: "He must accumulate information of himself, and meanwhile he resolved to remain close upon his guard lest those qualities of which he knew nothing should everlastingly disgrace him. 'Good Lord!' he repeated in dismay." Then Crane leads the reader right back out of Henry's mind as if those thoughts were the reader's and describes what is happening around as if the reader was embodying Henry. An example occurs right after the above text: "After a time the tall soldier slid dexterously through the hole. The loud private followed. They were wrangling." Basically, this book has a nice flow to it because it grabs you into everyone of the scenes. Crane uses the common dialect of the day, which is very interesting, especially if read aloud: "Gee, yes! An' I hope we don't have no more fightin' till a week from Monday." Henry is comfortable after his first battle because he stood his ground and fought, not as a " man but a member." He has a feeling of belonging and admiration for all his fellow soldiers, which is perfect because his regiment color is blue, symbolizing loyalty. In the second battle, as he feared, he ran away from the "monster". This move bothered him for a long time afterwards because everywhere he went he saw his own northern men fighting to the death; courageous, unlike he was. The thought of justifying his actions to his regiment was fearful. He knew the moment he stepped foot on his campground he would be a laughing stock. During his wanderings, he is changed by a friend's awkward death and while on his way to finding his regiment he is butted in the head, causing his head to swell. He arrives at camp, injured, late at night, which provides protection from questions of his whereabouts. In the next battles, Henry is aroused by a strong animosity towards the Confederates and discovers that he is very courageous and an example for his fellow soldiers. His brave actions are acknowledged, along with those of another character. In the last chapter, Henry reviews in his mind all of his performances during his time in the army; "his deeds, his failures, and his achievements." From his viewpoint after the last battle, he says he can clearly see them "march before him...and criticise them with some correctness." From this the reader can infer that Henry has grown; he has become wiser and can now be considered a man.

Tara Ferrin

I actually finally finished the book last night. I say finally not because I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but it definitely was a tougher read than I'm used. The language is older more descriptive, and at times hard to figure out, but in the end I think it made me appreciate it more. I'm not going to pretend that I understood even half of what the author was trying to say, but It did affect me, and spoke to me personally at times. In my opinion he's a brilliant writer. It's a story of a very young and inexperienced soldier in the civil war named Henry. It tells of his inward struggles finding courage and making sense of this terrible thing called war. It is disturbing at times to read some of the horrors he describes, not because it's graphic, but just emotionally heart wrenching. I love this paragraph:"As he gazed around him, the youth(Henry) 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 processes in the midst of so much devilment."After reading this, I could really feel myself in his shoes. Here he is in this captivatingly beautiful place, listening to the stream running by and the birds singing, how can life go so peaceably on for nature, when something so horrible and ugly as war is raging at the same time.It was sad to read how insignificant he felt at times, his lieutenant called his regiment a bunch of slow "mule-drivers" and sent them off to charge the enemy stating that few would make their way back. How would that feel? Like being sent off as one of the unimportant masses to be slaughtered for the greater good. I can't imagine. I hope our soldiers understand how important they are not just collectively. but individually. They are each heros to me, for just being there.I loved this novel. It wasn't an easy read for me, but it was worth it.side note: I read the New Edition, it's I guess the complete edition restored from the author's original manuscript. The version first published and the one most people are familiar with is supposedly different. " It was altered in many key passages and an entire chapter was removed in order to make it a simpler, less realistic picture of war-more acceptable to the readers of the time." As stated on the back of my book. Hope you enjoy!

Ryan Lantzy

The red badge of courage was a civil war novel that was written by Stephen crane. I recently read another civil war novel and thought it would be fun to compare them. The silent written my (jack dann)is written from a perspective of a boy that fought for the confederate side and the red badge of courage is written from a perspective of a young boy who fights for the union side. The boy for unions name is henry Fleming, he thought war would be a glamorous thing from the stories that he had been told, well he was in for a surprise the first time that they came into a combat situation. he was scared for his life every solider told him and tried to convince him that war was a bad and scary thing but he didn't believe them. after the first battle that he had fought he had seen that the other soldiers had been correct.He was scared for his life he didn't know what to do or where to go. Later the tall and loud solider went to check on him to make sure that he was ok. this is just a part of the book that leads to many more things that reveal them self about young henry. Overall I think that this was a decent I would recommend it to anyone who likes a war novel or is interested in a new perspective on the civil cause it is defiantly that. The book had its dull moments but whet book doesn't? I thought it was a pretty good book and would read it again.

John Yelverton

I know that this is supposed to be this amazing classic, but I found it tremendously boring and not even worth my time.


So, hey. There's this guy. His name's Henry, but that's not really important. He really wanted to join the army, cuz, well, that's what all the cool kids were doing. So he did. And hey, who doesn't wanna blow shit up? I know I'd wanna blow shit up. Everybody loves blowing shit up.Anyway, so yeah. That happened. They all sat around for a while, and then there was this one fight, and then there was this other fight, and some stuff happened. Nothing to get excited about. And oh yeah, after that there was this other thing. And now, I'm gonna describe the way the MAGNIFICENT SUNBEAMS HIT THIS BEAUTIFUL SHARD OF DECAYING, MAGGOT-INFESTED TREE BARK IN GLORIOUSLY POETIC DETAIL. Y'know. Because this is a good book, and they do that kind of thing in those. ...Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.I hate this book. I really do. Maybe I missed something, but I found no emotion, dimension, or depth in it whatsoever. And maybe that makes me ignorant, but hey, so be it. I had to force my way through this droning, monotonous mess just so I could then be made to write a paper on how supposedly brilliant/amazing I thought it was.I guess I can respect it for what it is, but personally, I'm just thankful that it was a quick read.

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