The Red Badge of Courage Chapter 23
The colonel ran down the line and shouted that the regiment must charge. To the youth's surprise, the men did not have to be coaxed; they all nodded in assent to the idea. The regiment sprang up as if in a last show of strength before complete feebleness. The youth was at the front, waving the flag in circles and leading the men on. Their state of frenzy kept them from becoming only a sprinkling of corpses. The youth felt himself become great in that moment:
"He himself felt the daring spirit of a savage, religion-mad. He was capable of profound sacrifices, a tremendous death. He had no time for dissections, but he knew that he thought of the bullets only as things that could prevent him from reaching the place of his endeavor. There were subtle flashings of joy within him that thus should be his mind." Chapter 23, pg. 127
The thought of the great collision when the regiments met, made the youth run faster. In a moment, however, he could see that the gray regiment did not intend to stay for the blow - they had turned their faces and begun to run. One part of the gray line, however, remained obstinately in place behind the fence. The youth's regiment raged and ran at the holdouts as if it were a personal affront; the youth focused on the enemy flag and plunged toward it. The blue regiment stopped and fired a formidable volley; the other faltered and their color bearer was hit and was dying slowly. Suddenly the youth saw Wilson leap the fence and pounce on the dying color bearer, wrenching away the flag.
The youth's regiment had broken the enemy line. They had taken four prisoners, and flung questions at them. One prisoner spent his time swearing long oaths; he had a superficial foot wound. A second, no more than a boy, stood by calmly and accepted his fate, conversing freely with the Union men. A third man acted morose and answered all questions by telling his captors to go to hell. A fourth and final prisoner sat silent and seemed to be in a state of absolute dejection. The youth could not detect that the man gave a thought to the brutality and torture in his future; he detected only shame at having been caught.
After sufficient celebration, the youth sat down and leaned his flag against a post. He and Wilson congratulated each other.