Warning! Use these chapter summaries as a review, not as a substitute (unless of course the test is in 10 minutes and you're on page 7).
Chapter 1: Jim Conklin returns to camp to share a rumor that the army will be moving soon. Henry Fleming, a private in the Union army, returns to his tent and laments the deglorification of battle--hypothesizing that men have lost the war instinct and that all great battles are a thing of the past.
Henry reflects on what drove him to enlist in the army, despite his mother's objections. He relives his heroic journey from his home to Washington D.C. to join the fight. Since joining his regiment, Henry has experienced nothing but boredom. He secretly worries that he will run when the battle comes.
Chapter 2: Jim Conklin's rumor proves to be false. Henry still worries that he will run in battle. The regiment marches all day, but nothing comes of it.
Chapter 3: The soldiers march through a dark forest and hear gunfire. They run forward, feverishly building and abandoning trenches each time they stop. Henry is convinced the regiment commanders are leading him to be slaughtered. Henry and his fellow soldiers accuse the commanders of being incompetent.
Analysis: Henry finds out war isn't all it's cracked up to be. He grew up reading of Homeric battles but only experiences boredom, confusion, and marching--kind of like when your teacher told you how great this novel was, so you got really excited and now you're convinced nothing is ever going to happen.