"An Episode of War" by Stephen Crane begins with a lieutenant trying to evenly divide coffee rations to his fellow soldiers. We are told he is taking the task very seriously and that he is proud of himself for being able to do it so evenly. It is at the moment that the soldiers begin to move forward to take their ration that the lieutenant cries out in pain. He actually looks at the man next to him because he thinks the soldier did something to him.
The lieutenant and the other soldiers eventually realize that the lieutenant has been shot and that the bullet came from somewhere out in the woods. From this point, everything seems to happen in a fog. The lieutenant begins making his way through the troops toward the medical tent, and he sees everything in a sort of surreal way.
The lieutenant eventually makes it to the doctor, and the doctor isn't exactly thrilled to see the lieutenant. We aren't told why, but we can assume that the doctor is used to seeing all manner of trauma and has developed a cold exterior to dealing with wounded men. The doctor asks the lieutenant to come back with him, and the lieutenant makes a comment about amputation. The doctor replies that this is nonsense.
The final paragraph of the story jumps some distance into the future and tells readers that they just read the story of how the lieutenant lost his arm. He comes home with a "flat sleeve," and readers realize that the doctor lied and did indeed have to amputate.