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The Battle of the Cowshed represents the civil war between the White Army and the Red Army. This was the civil war that took place after the October Revolution which brought the Bolsheviks to power.
In October of 1917, the Bolsheviks took power in Russia. They transformed Russia into a communist country. However, those Russians who believed in the monarchy (along with others who believed in various other non-communist forms of government) had not given up hope. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the monarchists created the White Army and a civil war started between them and the communist Red Army.
In the Battle of the Cowshed, people who favor the old regime on the farm attack it. They are trying to overthrow the new government set up by the animals and restore the old government. This is analogous to the Russian Civil War in which people who favored the old regime tried to overthrow the new Bolshevik government.
The Battle of Cowshed is representative of the inner fighting within Russia that occurred between the remnants of the Czar Nicholas II, loyal followers known as the Whites, and the Red Army led by Leon Trotsky, who is represented by Snowball.
The Battle of Cowshed is what eventually leads to the power struggle between Joseph Stalin, Napoleon, and Trotsky, Snowball for control of the Communist party, Animal Farm.
Stalin takes control of the party, putting his friends in top positions in the party, effectively pushing Trotsky out of the party. Trotsky is exiled, goes to Mexico and is assassinated in 1929 on Stalin's orders.
The battle of cowshed represents the October Revolution when the people of Russia got rid of the Tsars, took control, and brought on a new type of government known as communist.
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