Henry tries to blend in with the wounded soldiers. But after the tattered man's questions, he feels like they can perceive his guilt. He starts to envy their wounds and wishes he had one too: "a red badge of courage."
The graying spectral soldier walks at Henry's side, refusing everyone's offers to help him. Henry suddenly recognizes him as Jim Conklin. Jim says the fight was terrible and he got shot. He tells Henry he's afraid of falling and getting run over by the artillery wagons. Henry, sobbing, promises to help him. But Jim becomes remote, asking to be left alone. Henry pleads with Jim to leave the road for safety.
By helping Jim, Henry sees a chance to make up for not helping the regiment when he ran away.
Spurred on by some strange energy, Jim suddenly bolts away into the fields. Henry is terrified by the sight and chases after Jim with the tattered man. When Jim eventually stops, he stands motionless, demanding to be left alone. His body trembles and stiffens, and he falls awkwardly to the ground dead.
Jim's surreal sprint into the woods to die is among the book's most gruesome episodes. Courage and sympathy have no place here. Instead, the scene shows physical suffering and terror that only the dead know.
Henry is spellbound by Jim's corpse. He stares into Jim's paste-like face and, when Jim's jacket falls away, sees Jim's awful wound. Agonized and enraged, Henry shakes his fist back at the battlefield.
Henry gets an up-close look at wounds, death, and corpses, but nothing makes sense, and he erupts in frustration. Jim's wound was not a symbol of glory or a badge or honor.