After the battle, Wilson and Henry offer to go find water. This is an unsuccessful mission.
What they do find is a general and another officer talking about which regiment they can most easily do without. The officer says that he’d be glad to spare the 304th (Henry’s regiment) because they fight like "mule drivers" (evidently NOT a compliment).
The general says fine, send the "mule drivers" to the front. He also says he doesn’t believe many of the mule drivers will make it back, i.e., will not live to drive many more mules.)
Henry and Wilson are beyond insulted at hearing all their grand fighting described thusly.
They go back to camp and report what they’ve heard. (Minus the mule driver part – that was just too humiliating.)
The men are astounded and not too thrilled to hear that they will be the ones leading the charge against the enemy.
Henry and Wilson give each other meaningful looks.
"We’ll git swallowed," one of the soldiers says (18.35).