The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

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What is the name of Henry's regiment?

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Rebeka Auer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Harry, also known in the story as "the youth", is part of the 304th New York regiment that includes the "tall soldier" Jim Conklin and the "loud soldier" Wilson.

The 304th regiment is first mentioned at the beginning of chapter 4, when an unnamed soldier states:

"Th' general, ses he is goin' take th' hull command of th' 304th when we go inteh action, an' then he ses we'll so sech fightin' as never another one reg'ment done."

In chapter 12, another soldier refers to the regiment as the 304th New York regiment.

"What reg’ment do yeh b’long teh? Eh? What’s that? Th’ 304th N’ York?"

In chapter 18, an officer insults Harry and Wilson when he calls the 304th regiment "mule drivers" and implies that it is the one regiment he could risk losing. Harry and Wilson try to prove him wrong in the next charge, but after after they end up on the losing side, the officer again insults the regiment by calling them all "mud diggers." Harry and Wilson's anger subsides somewhat when they overhear a colonel single them out as the best fighters in the regiment.

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The name of Henry's regiment is the 304th. Crane does not reveal its name until Chapter 18 when Henry and Wilson overhear a conversation between their general and another officer. The general is asking the officer what troops are left to fight. The officer replies,

The officer who rode like a cowboy reflected for an instant. “Well,” he said, “I had to order in th' 12th to help th' 76th, an' I haven't really got any. But there's th' 304th. They fight like a lot 'a mule drivers."

Henry and Wilson are astonished to hear their regiment called "mule drivers" but they run back to camp and tell the others to prepare to fight. By not revealing the name of the regiment until they are about to fight is the same technique Crane uses by not revealing Henry's name until after he has fought. It seems as if Crane does not consider a person's identity important until they face losing their identity in the line of duty.

them best of any.”

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