Stephen Crane makes ample use of personification throughout the story. When Fred Collins goes for water, he passes the active battle. As he nears the well, the exploding shells around him are personified. They are described as "demon fingers" pushing into the soldier's ears. The explosions "roar" like animals and with "menace." Similarly, the sounds of the rifle fire that the troops are exchanging is called a "sky . . . full of fiends" that are screaming their "wild rage."
As he finally gets to the well, the slow moving water is described as lazy or "indolent." It continues to take longer than Collins would like. The narrator calls it "stupid water" and says it criticized or "derided" him.
When he cannot fill the canteen, he takes a full bucket and starts running back toward his men. Midway, he encounters a wounded officer, whose anguished groans are "heard only by shells, bullets."