"The Red Badge of Courage" is a war novel by American author Stephen Crane. 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.
Eighteen-year-old Private Henry Fleming, remembering his romantic reasons for enlisting as well as his mother's resulting protests, wonders whether he will remain brave in the face of fear, or turn and run. During the regiment's first battle, Confederate soldiers charge, but are repelled. The enemy quickly regroups and attacks again, this time forcing some of the unprepared Union soldiers to flee. Fearing the battle is a lost cause, Henry deserts his regiment. Only after he reaches the rear of the army does he overhear a general announcing the Union's victory.
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.