Notes on Characters from The Red Badge of Courage

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The Red Badge of Courage Major Characters

Henry Fleming (the 'Youthful Soldier'): Henry is the main character in the story, and his experience is that around which the story of the battle is narrated. Henry is an average 1860's teenager, who comes from a small New York farming family. His father has died a premature death. He is forever wrestling with his own internal dilemmas concerning courage, fear, and manhood. The story of the battle becomes Henry's story of growing up.

Jim Conklin (the 'Tall Soldier') : A northern soldier and friend of Henry Fleming, who is forever talking about unfounded rumors of troop movements. He is wounded and later dies on the first day of battle. Henry finds him in the line of wounded men walking to the rear of the battle - he has been shot in the side and Henry watches him wander off and die in an open field.

Wilson (the 'Loud Soldier'): A man who Henry Fleming initially resents but then befriends in battle and later comes to respect greatly. They essentially become the non-commissioned leaders of their regiment on the last day of the battle. Their regiment charges and Henry, with Wilson at his side, takes up the regiment's colors (flag) when the color bearer is killed. Wilson is responsible for capturing the opposing regiment's colors after the successful charge.

Minor Characters

Bill Smithers: A soldier who falls during the first march out of camp and gets his fingers stepped on while trying to retrieve his rifle. He goes to the hospital and is mentioned throughout the novel by members of his regiment.

The Youth's Company's lieutenant (Hasbrouck): The youth's immediate commanding officer. He is shot through the hand during the first day of battle, but stays on to lead his men. He is later shot in the arm, during the second day's charge.

The 'Tattered Soldier': A wounded man who tries to befriend Henry as he marches with the line of wounded men to the rear. The Tattered Soldier follows him and with him watches Jim Conklin (the Tall Soldier) die from an earlier gunshot to the side. He repeatedly asks Henry where he is shot, but this makes Henry angry and ashamed since he has not yet been wounded. Henry leaves the man wandering aimlessly to die alone, a fact that later haunts Henry.

The 'Man with the Cheery Voice': A Union soldier who befriends and helps Henry back to his regiment after the first day's battle. Henry never sees the man's face.

Corporal Simpson: The officer in Henry's regiment who takes care of Henry's head wound after the first day of fighting. Henry claims that he has been shot, even though he was actually hit in the head with the butt of a rifle by another Union soldier.

Jimmie Rogers: A soldier in Henry's regiment who is shot through the body in the forest on the second day of battle.

Colonel MacChesnay: A colonel in Henry's regiment, who leads the second day's charge and is afterward reproached by the high-ranking officer who called the regiment a lot of mule drivers.

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