Character List


Henry Fleming Henry, the protagonist of the novel, is a young Union soldier enlistee. He enters the army with strong romantic feelings about war. After experiencing the realities of army life, he becomes plagued by doubts and fears. As the novel progresses, Henry overcomes his fears and guilt to become one of the fiercest, most aggressive soldiers in the regiment. Henry conquers doubt and accepts duty by showing the confidence and courage required to be a soldier.

The Loud Soldier (Wilson) Wilson is Henry's friend. He takes care of Henry's head injury. Wilson changes from a very pragmatic, somewhat arrogant, do-your-job soldier, to a compassionate veteran who shows care and concern for his comrades. Wilson gives Henry a packet of his personal letters to be sent home if he should die in battle. Henry considers these letters a sign of weakness, and, ironically, he uses these letters as an aid to restoring his own courage.

The Tall Soldier/The Spectral Soldier (Jim Conklin) Jim is a positive, confident Union soldier who lifts the spirits of the younger soldiers. However, Jim is mortally wounded in the first battle, and Henry watches him die in the field. His death has a profound, depressing effect on Henry.

The Lieutenant (Lt. Hasbrouck) The lieutenant leads Henry's company with courage and conviction. He represents the confident Union officers who are always shown as strong leaders. The lieutenant is so pleased with Henry's fighting ability that he calls him a "wild cat," a term which brings great pride to Henry.

The Tattered Soldier The tattered, wounded soldier twice asks Henry about how he was wounded. This questioning angers Henry, and he leaves the tattered soldier wandering in the same field where Jim dies. Henry uses the episode with the tattered soldier to remind him that he must always be humble.

Henry's Mother After Henry enlists against her wishes, Henry's mother doesn't mention anything about glorious battles and heroic actions (to Henry's disappointment). Instead, she advises him to do the right thing and not to be a shirking child.

The Corporal (Simpson) When Henry returns to the regiment, Simpson, a corporal in the regiment, asks Henry the question, "Where were yeh?" Simpson's question angers Henry because he can't answer the question honestly.

The Cheery Soldier The cheery soldier befriends Henry after he is struck on the head by a retreating soldier. The cheery soldier also returns Henry to his regiment.

The Colonel (Colonel MacChesnay) The colonel is the commander of Henry's regiment. When a general criticizes the regiment's efforts after an offensive, the colonel doesn't defend the troops' actions; instead, he says, "Oh, well, general, we went as far as we could."

The General (the Officer in Charge of Henry's Brigade) This officer selects Henry's regiment to take the offensive in support of Whiterside and his troops. After the regiment returns, unsuccessfully, from the offensive, he criticizes the regiment. He calls Henry's regiment "a lot of mud diggers." This comment motivates Henry to prove that the general is wrong.

The Red-Bearded Officer He motivates the troops to charge the enemy's position in support of Whiterside, but he shows disappointment and anger when the charge stalls. However, he also shows disdain for another regiment's soldiers who criticize Henry's regiment for not achieving their objective in the charge.

Whiterside (a Union Officer) Whiterside's need for additional battlefield support prompts the general to select Henry's regiment to launch a charge against the enemy.

The Captain He is a dedicated officer in Henry's regiment who is killed in the first battle.