Henry's greatest worry in The Red Badge of Courage is how he will react when he finally goes into battle. Most of the other men in his regiment have the same concerns, since none of them have ever gone into combat before. Many of the soldiers boasted of the heroic actions they would perform once they were under fire, but Henry was more realistic about his performance. During the first Confederate attack, which Henry's regiment repulsed, Henry held his ground and breathed a sigh of relief during the temporary lull. He reveled in the satisfaction he felt as a part of a larger unit: When the other men stood and fought, so did Henry. But during the second Confederate charge, Henry broke and ran after seeing others do the same.
Afterward, Henry was overcome with guilt and dread at the thought of how he would be treated after he rejoined his unit. He would be branded a coward, he believed, and the shame may follow him forever. Luckily for Henry, the injury he incurred from a fellow "skedaddler" was mistaken for a real battle wound--a red badge of courage. His secret remained safe, and he determined that he would make up for his actions at the next opportunity.