When the novel opens, the regiment is despondent and Henry, "the Youth," is dissatisfied. Why?
Glory and honor was what all the young Civil War soldiers sought, both in reality and in Stephen Crane's novel The Red Badge of Courage. In the opening chapter, Henry Fleming, like the others in his regiment, are upset with the boredom and drudgery of drilling. None of the regiment has seen action yet, and they want to fight after several months in camp. The main topic of conversation is about the possibility of a pullout and a march, but so far the talk is only rumors. Meanwhile, Henry is homesick, and he worries about how he will personally conduct himself when the time comes to fight. He talks with Jim Conklin, who reassures Henry that the regiment will be alright.
He is not happy because he enlisted to fight and battle, but so far, he has just sat in the encampment with no battles, glory, or honor to his name. He is unhappy because he really was expecting to just leap into battle, fire his gun a few times, and be showered with gifts, medals, and praise.