As his regiment awaits its next assault, Henry feels calm and self-confident. He becomes absorbed in watching the fighting down the line and in distant fields. Waves of blue and gray surge against each other, trying to win positions behind fences or trees.
Detached from his battle mindset, Henry sees the fighting like an officer: he's not watching soldiers; instead, he sees colored waves and strategic surges.
A "churchlike" silence descends just before the gunfire becomes a colossal roar. Henry's ears are overwhelmed. His regiment, depleted but ready, charges again into the field. Henry stands in the middle of the new fighting with the flag still over him.
The noise signals the climax of the novel. In the group roar, no individual voices can be heard, just as the soldiers, including Henry, have merged to become a single wave of men.
Henry's regiment notices a group of enemy soldiers running toward a fence nearby. They fire vigorously to stop them, but the enemy reaches the fence and, protected behind it, starts to do serious damage. A sergeant is shot through the cheeks, unable to scream. Soldiers drop dead around the field.
Having just watched the battle unfold, Henry and his fellow soldiers know that losing the fence is bad news. Like the corpses in the novel, the sergeant cannot communicate the meaning of his wound.
Still angry with the insulting officer, Henry resolves not to budge, hoping to prove that his regiment is not a bunch of "mule drivers" and "mud diggers." Henry thinks his final revenge will be his own dead body lying on the battlefield. Wilson and the lieutenant are nearby, but the regiment is growing weaker.
Sensing defeat, Henry tries to save his pride by dreaming that his corpse will be his revenge. But he should know that the insulting officer will not care—and that corpses are not symbols of glory.