Henry's story is a coming of age tale. His ideas of war and battle are grand and glorious ones that he has perceived from newspapers and books, but he soon discovers that reality is much different.
In the first chapters of this book, Henry is the young, idealistic young daredevil who is determined to be brave and be recognized for his courage and skill as a warrior. It is not until he gets there and the men and boys are discussing battles and strategies that he discovers he is afraid. Henry struggles with the fear that he will run and in doing so, bring shame to himself and his family.
In these first chapters, he personifies the scared to death kid trying to keep a stiff upper lip and hide from all the veterans his fears and insecurities.
As the book and battles in the book progress, Henry learns the true meaning of courage and comes into his own as a seasoned soldier who saves the regiment.