Moving again toward the "furnace roar" of the battle, Henry finds a road packed with retreating wagons and men. This discovery comforts Henry: it seems to amplify the danger he fled at first but has now resolved to confront.
The retreat justifies Henry's own hasty retreat earlier, and also boosts Henry's sense of his own courage, since he is now returning to fight what these men are fleeing.
Everyone moves aside for a column of soldiers headed to the front lines. Henry perceives them as a glorious "procession of chosen beings" and feels pathetic, totally inadequate by comparison.
Despite the deaths he has just seen, Henry still views war as glorious. He sees in these soldiers the man he hopes to be.
Henry imagines trading places with one of these men. He pictures himself strong and determined, charging the enemy and getting "calmly killed" on a hilltop for all to see. Henry feels a thrill at contemplating the "magnificent pathos" of his own corpse.
Henry almost heads to the front lines, but realizes that he has no gear and no regiment—he's hungry, thirsty, and physically spent. He needs to find his regiment, but fears their harsh disapproval, and that his name will become a catchphrase for coward.
Henry confronts his human needs and realizes the limitations of being just one individual in the army. Realizing one's limits is a major part of becoming a mature person.
Henry thinks his problem could be solved if the army lost. Then his decision to flee from overwhelming odds would be vindicated. Henry realizes this is a terrible thing to wish, but he sees no way out of it.
In growing up, Henry must compromise his desires for his duty, his own vindication versus the oath of loyalty to his army.