Henry envisioned Homeric battles and chivalrous deeds of bravery when he decided to enlist, but his mother warned him of the evils that often entrapped young men who joined the army. She warned him not to worry about her, but to do his duty and never shirk. Henry felt ashamed when he left the farm, but he believed that it was his destiny to find a place for himself in this great conflict. He did not recognize the enemy as evil, and he admitted that he liked the Southern picket who called him a "dum' good feller." The stories he heard about the Confederate horde reminded him of the invincible foes he had read about, and he had a healthy respect for the enemy before he had faced them. He came to recognize that they were men, not evil demons or "dragons."
Henry runs the gamut of emotions during the story, questioning his courage and worrying that his initial desertion under fire would brand him a coward forever. But with his secret safe, Henry determines to make amends, and he becomes a "war devil" without even realizing it. He learns to do his duty and persist under pressure, and in the end, it had taken only one battle to turn Henry from a farm boy into a man.