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The fighting stops, and the soldiers feel suddenly free. They hurry to return to the lines so as not to be killed in some insignificant way. They are battered and weary, but they proudly prepare for a final march. When they are taunted by some veterans, they are clearly affected by the cruelty.
The Youth realizes that the ground they have covered during the battle is not very much and that not much time has lapsed during the fighting. Henry is amazed, however, at the number of emotions and events crowded into such little spaces. He also feels overjoyed when he thinks about his actions during the charge. He judges his performance as exemplary. He grows angry when an officer calls the regiment "a lot of mud diggers" and tells them that they stopped one hundred feet this side of success. The lieutenant defends his men for having put up a good fight. The soldiers are astounded that anyone could call their efforts "light." The Youth sees that the men are angry about the criticism and begin to act like "cuffed and cursed animals." Ironically, he defends the criticizing officer, saying he was only mistaken in his judgment since he had not witnessed the fighting. Wilson answers that, "there's no fun in fightin' fer people when everything yeh do -- no matter what--ain't done right."
The Youth hears that the lieutenant and the colonel have praised him and Wilson for their courage. He even claims that the two friends deserve to be major generals. In light of this praise, the Youth and Wilson forget the insults to their regiment and feel great affection for their officers.
This chapter largely deals with the attitudes about the soldiers. The men judge themselves as brave, for they have fought hard. The commander judges them as failures, for they have failed to take the last one hundred feet of territory that he wanted from the enemy. The veterans judge them harshly, for they are torn, tattered, and disorganized in action and appearance. Henry's attitude about himself is proud, for he judges his performance as exemplary.
It is important to notice that Crane once again gives an ironic view of war and its leaders. The commanding officer can only criticize the men, rather than praising them for their hard-fought efforts. He obviously regards the soldiers as something less than human; he sees them as mere objects in his strategy for victory. He screams, rants, and bellows -- as if he is not human himself. Ironically, the soldiers will follow these officers eagerly when they are given a small bit of praise.