The Red Badge of Courage
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 awakened, 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 from a truthful cavalryman, who had
heard it from his trustworthy brother, one of the orderlies 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 chimneys.
"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 trouser's 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
The tall soldier felT called upon to defend the truth of a rumor he himself had introduced.
He and the loud one came near to fighting over it.
A corporal began to swear before the assemblage. 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 impressed that they were in a sort of
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 opposed by men who advocated that
there were other plans of campaign. They clamored at each other, numbers making futile