May 1, 2012

Bloody Civil War Wrapped in a 'Red Badge'

University of Virginia, University of Virginia

 

In Stephen Crane's short story, "The Veteran," published a year after The Red Badge of Courage, an elderly Henry Fleming reminisces about his first experiences in battle: "That was at Chancellorsville," he remembers. The veteran Henry's recollection of his reasons for flight match those of his younger namesake in The Red Badge of Courage, and he recalls with sorrow the death of Jim Conklin, the "tall soldier." "The Veteran," then, explicitly identifies the battle in Red Badge as Chancellorsville (May 1-3, 1863), one of the bloodiest struggles of the Civil War. If such fictional correspondence seems slight evidence for the claim that Red Badge is set at Chancellorsville, then we can turn to Crane's earliest biographer, Thomas Beer, who reveals that in preparation for the...

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TAGGED: literature, Virginia, Civil War

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