This was inspired by the Ken Burns Documentary, "The Civil War." Read it as if you were watching the show, in your best Shelby Foote voice. For a nice touch, play the music as you read.
I have seen battle; they are horrific to the eye and even more gruesome to the soul but never more necessary are they to those men and to what the stand for. - Sgt. Gregory Studrawa, 8th Brigade Louisiana State
The battle that pitted the men from Gen. Urban Meyer's Gainsville, Florida army against the legendary men from Baton Rouge and their infamous Gen. Les Miles, would turn out to be a turning point for the ultimate goal of capturing a victory in New Orleans and thus seizing control of the landscape for at least one year.
Gen. Miles had been gaining a reputation for being somewhat a gambler on the field of battle at the time. Newspapers across the south and even northern and western states. Really, all over the country, there were Generals leading their armies to great victories thus elevating there stature as possible victors for the grand prize but it was being overshadowed by Miles antics and ultimate victories. The battle for control of the west and Gen. Tuberville's plainsmen illustrates this point clearly. It was as if Miles wasn't winning with pronounced war strategy, but shear madness. It's at this point that Gen. Miles started becoming less of a man, and more of a myth, a caricature of a Mad Hatter.
There was an aura, a supernatural feeling that was felt in that valley and throughout the land. When you face those Lousiana men, those fightin' tigers, you weren't facing mortals. You were facing a force much greater than you. It was a battle, it was a war against an unstoppable spirit that not only defeated you physically, it destroyed your psyche. It was total war against your moral constitution." - Gen. Urban Meyer 1st army, Northern Florida
The battle started as anyone would expect a fighting force such as the Florida force that came into battle. Half way through the Florida men, nicknamed the Gators, for the dangerous reptile that populated their homeland, had a slight but noticeable advantage once both side had retreated to their camps. Certainly, a force such as Florida would not fall in consecutive battles. But, there was an uncertainty of the outcome that remained. Against the Louisiana men, the "Fighting Tigers" as they were known throughout the land, the battle wasn't won until there was a clear winner, especially when you were fighting a Les Miles led fighting force.
I'm scared mother. I have never witnessed such a wicked creature as I have seen in Gen. Miles. Myths and bedtimes stories do not give sufficient credence to his powers. I have spread the word of a higher power but he defies that with powers of his own. Might I suggest, that not all wicked souls were captured and hung at Salem. No, the wizard leader of those witches remains alive and well, and he resides but 53 short yards to the west. Send my love and God Bless. -Your Loving Son,- Pvt. 1st Class,Timothy Richard Tebow 1st Army Northern Florida
Les Miles was becoming a legend. His victories in battle only added to legend. He was infamous for seemingly impossible victories. It was said that no amount of scholarly training could prepare you for a battle that pitted you against him. Miles often disregarded his luck as good strategy and preparedness. But, to those who knew him on a personal level and interacted with him in person noted that these comments were accompanied by a wry smile and an overwhelming sense that he knew intimately of the powers that surrounded his legend. He was feared by other Generals not for demeanor outside of battle. Outside of battle he was a very common man with many faults. Faults that led others to doubt him competency as a General. However, on the field of battle, the aura and what results around that aura is what the feared the most. He didn't will his men to win, he willed the opposition to lose. He controlled time itself. The rules of the universe didn't apply to him in his mind. That's what made him dangerous. If other men approached him as just a man on the battlefield, then Gen. Miles had already won. What was left to discover, was how much of your sanity would be left after.
He made a deal with the devil, that I am assured. What I am not assured of, what keeps me up awake during the long, humid night, is the devil might be in Miles' debt. -Thomas Tuberville
Midway through the second half of this great battle, news of a surprise defeat of a common foe spread throughout the land in the south. A thunderous ovation spread through the south and with the audible joy, came about an increased intensity of battle.
The taffy grew thick inside my yapper. The thunder sounded and the earth shook. No matter what blow these bastards will throw at my men, we will prevail. After the dust has cleared, Louisiana will stand mightily into the night as victors, and the world will be in awe of what has been witnessed. We will be victorious not because of the might of mortal men, it will be from the want to win, the will power will turn these bunch of men into an unstoppable force and we will drink the tears of our opponents. Take the field. -Gen. Les Miles (Letter to his wife, on the eve of victory at Battle of Death Valley)
The battle turned briefly to the Florida side but, after an arduous fight, Gen. Miles and his men came out as victors, as Miles had predicted. His methods have been studied by many men but to this day, no one has come close to understanding the man. All that we can do is to look back in awe and try to absorb what happen but be warned, it can drive the calmest of men, insane.
The Louisiana army would go on to prevail and take the grand prize. His men would come to no defeat, but even in those defeat, morale seemed high. Miles took on most of the blame for those and shielded his men from scrutiny which allowed them to overcome and eventually defeated the stoic Gen. Tressel and his Ohio army in the Battle for New Orleans. From that moment on, Gen Tressel would have many victories but never be the same. He relinquished his ranked in shame and retired at his home in Ohio, forever haunted by the magic of Les Miles. Others would lead take similar paths after facing Miles and his men.