Title: War Torn Hearts

Rating: M

Warnings: homosexuality, homophobia, violence, language, gore, racisim

Author's Notice: For those of you who have read the original War Torn Hearts, this is the revised version, which, upon completion, will be available for sale on Amazon.

Disclaimer: This book is a work of fiction. ALL characters are the product of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidence. Some historical events have been altered for the sake of the story line.

Chapter One
[ April 3rd 1862 - Hardin County, TN ]

The sun was warm and high in the sky above the Union camp when the bustling of soldiers awoke Captain Damon Harbinger from his sleep. His back was sore from sleeping on the ground, despite the blankets we had used to try and soften it, and even laying still to try to ease the ache caused sharp stabs of pain all throughout his back. A groan escaped his lips a few times but other than that he showed no real sign of discomfort. He knew he needed to get up and get ready for the day and this, he figured, was a sign from above to move his lazy behind.

After a few more minutes of lying still, he decided enough was enough and stood up carefully, stretching his sore muscles, then went about gathering his uniform. His knee length, double breasted frock, taken for the sake of warmth rather than him being in the actual infantry, hung neatly around his shoulders and dark blue slacks with a single, long red stripe on the outside gave him a very professional look, even if they were not ironed. The white dress shirt he wore beneath the dark coat was a bit long in the sleeves, so it poked out a bit from under the cuffs but not enough to draw that much attention. The dark boots that went on his feet lost a bit of their color from all the dust he had spent his days walking in but they were still effective and useful as he tied the laces. After grabbing his kepi, which helped to keep the sun from blinding him, he stepped out of his tent to meet the new day.

His short black hair, kept nice and neat under his cap, stuck out a bit here and there and his thin but dark eyebrows accented both the pallor of his skin and the blue of his eyes that only stood out more against the dark eyelashes around them. His lean, toned body was hugged nicely by the tailored uniform but he knew no one around this area could care less and as he did his morning stretches his lanky limbs regained a bit of their usual grace that exhaustion had taken away. A gentle smile crossed his features as he took a deep breath of fresh air and caught the whiff of breakfast being made. Now that he thought about it, he was a bit hungry.

Before he could even think about leaving his tent, however a loud voice, calling his name made him pause and roll his eyes. It came from his left, meaning it was from head quarters and he sighed. How stupid was he to think that he could get away from orders so late in the day?

"Captain Sir!" the younger breathless soldier said, a lieutenant according to the rank on him as he bent over and held his knees. The captain waited for him to catch his breath and then returned the crisp salute the lower ranking man gave him. "It's good to see you awake, sir. The colonel was just looking for you."

Damon frowned. That couldn't be good if he had to talk to the colonel himself. "Did he say what it was about lieutenant?"

The younger man shook his head and grinned at his commander. "Of course not. Why would he tell me anything?"

Captain Harbinger looked over this messenger, trying to remember why he was friends with him. Short chestnut brown hair, similarly cut to his black, looked like a mess under the hat and hazel eyes that laughed at the slightest joke could not hold back their mirth at this situation. He had a more healthy tan to his skin and although he wasn't as thin as the superior officer, he certainly wasn't fat either. Being an assistant surgeon had gotten rid of any weight he did have in excess. His name was Eric Edwards and although he was useful in battle, he was a jokester outside of his work that knew no limits.

Damon sighed and scratched at some of his hair at the base of his skull, the other unconsciously going to his hip as he tried to think of the subject matter the colonel wanted to speak to him about. "It probably has something to do about where the surgeons are to set up their equipment. Well, we had better not keep him waiting." Sometimes the position of head surgeon of this small unit was a never ending task. "Where is he again?"

Lieutenant Edwards indicated the way behind him with his thumb. "You know, for a surgeon, you are kind of slow sometimes."

The older man said nothing and walked around his friend, wordlessly dismissing him as he headed for the colonel's tent. It wasn't that far, only half a mile from where his tent was, near what was assumed to be the front lines, but the sea of white tents and bustling bodies as young soldiers were awakened by their commanders and given tasks to get their lazy behinds moving made the journey seem longer. Smoke rising periodically from camp fires set up in front of every few tents let the doctor know easily how many people were working on breakfasts while the others went about into the woods collecting branches and such to keep the same fires going and others went about their messenger tasks given by their commanders to run to other commanders. Damon had even had to pause in his walk a few times to avoid getting run down by an overly eager messenger.

Along the way, he rediscovered something about the men that were sitting around small camp fires, chatting about this and that and joking around as if they didn't have a care in the world. Most of the soldiers were not yet fully grown adults, in fact half, just by looking at them, were still children in so many ways. What kind of a country did he live in, he wondered, when the people send children to fight wars for them?

"Harbinger!" a voice shouted ahead of him and the captain looked up, recognizing the tone and hurrying a bit to his destination. The colonel could not be happy if he had resorted to shouting the names of his subordinates from his tent. "Get in here! Now!"

The tent the commander was using for his strategic planning was no more than a bit of cloth over some sticks to give the small group already gathered there some shade and from the glowering look he was being given by the man, his already bad temper had gotten worse from the head surgeon's tardiness. "What the hell took you so long?"

"Pardon me, sir, but it took the messenger you sent took his time finding me," he answered somewhat calmly, trying to soothe the other. "Is there something important you needed to speak with me about?"

The other commanders of the smaller divisions under the colonel's commander laughed at him. "The colonel calls you here and you wonder that?" one of the infantry commanders, an older gentleman with a scruffy face and annoyingly smug attitude sneered. "You must be a newborn in the war department, surgeon."

Blue eyes became cold as the locked with this mocking man's. "I'll just have to remember that the next time I save your life, footman." The other man's comrades snickered at the retort and how their friend was unable to answer it.

The colonel coughed roughly to get their attention and all turned their gazes back on him and the map laid out on the table in front of them. Drawn out against the white of the area were little symbols of where each of the colonels has their people stationed but at the moment there were no Confederate marks. This confused the surgeon a bit but he said nothing. That aspect of this meeting had nothing to do with him.

"Now, listen up. From what the reports tell us, there are some grey-coats not too far south of here so we want to keep ourselves as inconspicuous as possible. They don't need to know we are here until we want them to know." The colonel looked each one of his division commanders in the eyes. "Now, we need to set up just in case somebody screws up and the Rebels decide to go on the offense. Harbinger."

"Yes sir."

"You will take your surgeons and other necessary medical personnel and use the already set up tents. That will be the hospital for the time being. We cleared it with the men earlier so there shouldn't be a problem."

"Understood sir."

"Then you are dismissed."

Captain Harbinger saluted the colonel and left the area, heading back to his tent to gather his supplies. He never did like that the colonel excluded him from such important information as to where the troops were going to be, but, he figured, that was probably one of the smartest things to do. That meant that if, for some unknown reason, he was captured during a battle, he wouldn't have any information to give. He sighed a bit as he side-stepped a soldier who had fallen onto his back and folded his arms across his chest. This was going to be fun.

On his way back to his small shelter to start packing things away, another group of young men, these ones a bit older than the average, called to him. He turned and was dismayed to see that they were his ambulance personnel and fellow surgeons. There weren't many of them, there never were many in any army, but that just made their drunken actions more deplorable.

"So, captain, what's going on?" one of the more sober men asked him, motioning for him to join them. "Come on, sit and have a drink with us. It's not going to kill you."

"You never know," another one of the group slurred. "He may just roll over and die the second alcohol touches those lips of his. Isn't it against his religion or something?"

Damon couldn't bring himself to dignify that last comment with a response and instead he took the offered seat but refused the alcohol. "One of us needs to remain sober after all in case the colonel should walk by," he reasoned, "And we need to be ready to grab our things and head off soon."

"Deployed already?" The more sober one apparently was going to be the conversationalist one this time. "Where to?"

"We are going to use the tents the privates and some officers have been using in our area as a kind of small hospital. It's been cleared by the colonel but we have to get our equipment there and I don't need you idiots drunk and breaking half the equipment."

There was some loud protesting from the drunkards but they quickly silenced when Lieutenant Edwards, who apparently appeared out of thin air told them to shut their traps not so nicely. The captain jumped, having not heard his assistant behind him but at least the effect of such a sneak attack seemed to work. Either the drunken soldiers were afraid of him or respected him too much to argue with his word. The doctor managed to bite back some rather harsh words about startling him that wanted to jump out spontaneously.

A soft breeze suddenly blew through the camp and those that did not have their kepis on properly had to rush after them as they were swept away in the wind. Doctor Harbinger was unable to suppress a shudder that ran through him at the feel of it brushing against his sense. The breeze itself was not what bothered him; it was the smell of blood and death it brought, barely recognizable to those who hadn't worked surrounded by the images of blood staining every available surface every time battle their unit engaged in battle. He felt his stomach churn uncomfortably at the mere notion. Despite his name, he was no true fortune teller but he could tell this much; they were going to suffer heavy causalities in the next battle.

[ Corinth, MS ]

About thirty miles southwest of the Union camp, not near enough to see the enemy but close enough for word to reach them about the other army, the Confederate Army of Mississippi was setting up its own forces not far from the Tennessee border. Most of the soldier wore tatters of grey coats, stained with blood from the soldiers who wore them before and were not so lucky as to need the clothes anymore, and their boots were falling apart. Only the officers seemed to wear the newer uniforms though the reason for it was that the higher ups tended to live long enough to put them to good use.

Major Jason Daniels, commander of the infantry regiments under Colonel Hardee, sat on a bench in the open park of down town Cornith, watching the people go by while he relaxed in the shade. His short, dirty blond hair was neatly combed while his light blue kepi rested beside him on his seat and blue-grey eyes saw every little thing about the pedestrians that walked by, specially the way the women would stare at him and giggle. He wore double breasted, cadet grey coat, which reached mid-thigh length when he stood up, and his long, darker grey pants matched his ankle high boots' black color. His rank glinted from its place against his collar and the braid along the outside of his coat sleeve indicated it to those who couldn't see the collar. He wore a crisp white dress shirt from underneath the main coat and the light blue lining of the coat, the same blue that accented his kepi, screamed his that officer position was in the infantry.

As it was, he had been recently told by the colonel that the Union Army that wasn't too far north of their current position and had spent the last few weeks thinking about how best to attack them without losing that many men. From what he had heard, the yanks had numbers in their favor but were ill prepared for any kind of fight. Apparently there were too many new men in the infantry for the idiot in charge to even bother trying to fortify his position. Perhaps this fight would be easier than first anticipated. "Those damned yanks," he grumbled to himself, not caring about the curse word that left his lips, "never can make things easy can they?"

The sound of boots against the stones of the street hardly registered in his mind until they came to a stop beside him. "What are you doin' out here?" a familiar voice said beside the major, making him start and turn, "Ain't you supposed to be with them men o' yours?"

Jason relaxed and moved over on the bench to make room for his friend. "And you, pretty boy? I'd have thunked for sure you'd be with your precious guns to make sure they is handled properly." The purposely dropped the quality of his English was the only real teasing he could get away with on his friend and he was smacked in the arm for his efforts. "I was just kidding!"

The second man that had spoken leaned forward against his legs with a breathless laugh. The red lining of his mid-thigh length jacket and the red of the crown of his kepi indicated his own position in the artillery just as Jason's blue gave him away. On this man's collar, his own major star glittered happily in the sunlight and the design on his sleeve was just as intricate as peer's was. This man, Major Joseph Roberts, was known to be very proud of his cannons, although he was young and relatively delicate looking compared to many men in the colonel's good army.

"You're lucky I don't let my guns fire on you boys one of these days," he warned with a more professional tone, meaning he was about to go into some rather important business, "and I came to tell you we've got some orders to start gathering our men. We're moving out tomorrow."

Jason raised a dirty blond eyebrow. "Really? Where to?"

"We have to get our asses up to Tennessee. We're engaging the Union Army there."

"Well damn! That's thirty some-odd miles!"

"And? You think the colonels care? They just want to kick that Grant fella's ass."

Jason fought down the urge to groan as he laid his head back and closed his eyes, letting the shade of the tree behind him keep the sun from assaulting his face. He could feel a headache coming on already. They had just gotten to Cornith and really just started to relax. Now that stupid general just had to throw the weary boys back into everything.

"So we're using the same plan we had before or a new one?" He said after a long minute, willing the winds to pick up a bit. For being early April, it was warm this year; too warm to be wearing as many layers as they were required to wear.

"Yea, we're using the same one that we came up with a few days ago." Joey (as Roberts liked to call himself) answered. "Hopefully they didn't screw up their numbers royally this time. I don't think our boys could deal with another massacre like the last time."

"I don't think I could handle it, let alone them. It's bad enough watchin' some of these kids try to desert for good reasons and ending up having to shoot them myself."

The artillery commander chuckled and turned to he watched his infantry friend. "Ya know what?" he said, his voice losing the strictness from earlier, "I didn't have no trouble during the last battle with that, buddy. It was only you and your footmen."

"Yeah well, maybe if I got real soldiers instead of fresh recruits who haven't known the real pleasure of a woman yet I may not have to worry about it."

The two men laughed bitterly together at this joke though it wasn't so much a stretch of the truth as they would have liked it to have been. Neither had met with the soldiers that weren't directly below them but all they had to do was look about a small town they were stationed at, like today, and watch the young privates flirt with the ladies or follow the older soldiers like puppies. It made Jason sad knowing that most of these young ones wouldn't make it through this war but he also knew that bodies were bodies and bodies were what the army needed most in today's war.

Joey closed his eyes and sighed as he shifted to get his arms on a more comfortable position for the moment. He had the same problem with those under his command dying, Jason knew, but unlike the infantry commander, his boys were well behind friendly lines when they were killed and more often than not their deaths were much more agonizing than those who died on the battlefield. It was a good thing that Joey had a rather strong constitution, despite his angelic appearance.

The rather annoying clatter of heavy horse hooves pounding on the pavement caught the attention of both majors and simultaneously the two sat up to address the man they knew was coming. Only one man they knew in the army would be arrogant enough to ride his war horse into the main streets of a small town when the headquarters of the military base was not all that far away. He was obnoxious, overbearing and just downright hateful of those who didn't immediately respect him for his veteran status. The two commanders honestly were as pleased to see Major John Jackson as he no doubt was to see them.

When the major's horse was almost close enough to step on the soldiers he told it to stop with a loud command that had both the other commanders, covering their ears in a hurry. "What is it you want, Major Jackson?" Joey said, still cringing from the yell and trying to stop the ringing in his ears, "Did you find one of your horse's hairs bent and need us to help you find the culprit?" If he had it would serve the overly proud man right.

The commander on horseback glared at the blond major. "Very funny Roberts. I am actually here to deliver orders to the two of you."

Jason finally looked up at the man rather than at the world behind the giant beast and had to keep from rolling his eyes. Of course the man would be in full uniform, the yellow accents in place of Jason's blue and Joey's gold and his hat being was the broad brimmed thing with a cord on it of gold and a pair of rifles crossing over each other on the front. He even wore the knee high boots, bought on his own time, which met with the length of his frock coat and gave an overall very traditional look to his uniform, as in Revolutionary War traditional.

"And why would you be the one delivering these orders, Jackson?" Jason asked mockingly, crossing his legs at the ankle as he stretched them out while he stared into the older major's storm grey eyes that matched his salt-and-pepper mustache. "Isn't that something so very below your position?"

Major Jackson chose not to dignify the latter comment with a response, as the infantry commander knew he wouldn't, but tossed the letters at them. "Confidential material, boys; can't trust the lowly messengers with anything important."

Joseph caught his first and felt its weight, frowning when the envelope was rather thick. "Well damn, they got everything in here don't they?" he muttered to himself and slipped it inside his coat pocket as he stood, putting his kepi on over his blond hair again. "Thanks again Jackson, though I do have a bit of advice for you."

A thick, peppered eyebrow raised as the cavalry commander acknowledged his peer. Jason held back a laugh. He knew what was coming and had been waiting for the moment for a while. Joseph did have a mighty temper and had been biding his time for a while now.

"When my cannons are firing on the enemy, it would do wise for you and your men to avoid running into the path of the cannon balls. You'll save more men and more horses that way."

The indigent glare that was the man's answer had Jason laughing quietly and as he got to his feet, putting his letter in his pocket with one hand while grabbing his kepi from where it lay on the bench next to him with the other. Jackson made a retort about Joseph being able aim but it was a weak one. It got both younger majors laughing enough to force the cavalry commander to leave on his own.

It took a moment or two for the two of them to compose themselves again and by that time the war horse and its rider had disappeared. Not that it mattered all that much. "So, Joey," Major Daniels said after the laughter had stopped, setting the kepi on his head as it was supposed to be. "I guess I had better be getting back to my men before they manage to shoot each other by mistake. This ride north ain't gonna be easy for them."

The artillery commander nodded and stretched himself before sighing and rolling his shoulders."You're telling me! We got the fun of cleaning the cannons then dragging 'em with us." He sighed dejectedly. He had wanted to talk to his friend some more. "Alright then, see ya at Tennessee."

The two friends said their goodbyes and went their separate ways to get back to their men. Joey headed towards the armory where his cannons were being kept and his men were awaiting orders and Jason headed off towards the barracks where his own men were. If he was lucky, he would get the chance to talk with his old friend again before the battle but, if not… all he could really do was wish his old buddy luck and good health.