It is believed that he based the fictional battle on that of Chancellorsville; he may also have interviewed veterans of the 124th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commonly known as the Orange Blossoms.Initially shortened and serialized in newspapers in December 1894, the novel was published in full in October 1895.
Crane conceived the story from the point of view of a young private who is at first filled with boyish dreams of the glory of war, only to become disillusioned by war's reality.
He took the private's surname, "Fleming," from his sister-in-law's maiden name.
It has never been out of print and is now thought to be Crane's most important work and a major American text.
Stephen Crane published his first novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, in March 1893 at the age of 22.
On a cold day, the fictional 304th New York Infantry Regiment awaits battle beside a river.
Eighteen-year-old Private Henry Fleming, remembering his romantic reasons for enlisting as well as his mother's resulting protests, wonders whether he will remain brave in the face of fear or turn and run.Overcome with shame, he longs for a wound, a "red badge of courage," to counteract his cowardice.When his regiment once again faces the enemy, Henry acts as standard-bearer, who carries a flag.Frustrated with the dryly written stories, Crane stated, "I wonder that some of those fellows don't tell how they felt in those scraps.They spout enough of what they did, but they're as emotionless as rocks." Returning to these magazines during subsequent visits to the studio, he decided to write a war novel.Maggie was not a success, either financially or critically.Most critics thought the unsentimental Bowery tale crude or vulgar, and Crane chose to publish the work privately after it was repeatedly rejected for publication.He would later relate that the first paragraphs came to him with "every word in place, every comma, every period fixed." Working mostly nights, he wrote from around midnight until four or five in the morning.Because he could not afford a typewriter, he carefully wrote in ink on legal-sized paper, occasionally crossing through or overlying a word.He later stated that he "had been unconsciously working the detail of the story out through most of his boyhood" and had imagined "war stories ever since he was out of knickerbockers." At the time, Crane was intermittently employed as a free-lance writer, contributing articles to various New York City newspapers.He began writing what would become The Red Badge of Courage in June 1893, while living with his older brother Edmund in Lake View, New Jersey.