Having expected Mr. Jones to attempt to recover control of Manor Farm, Snowball has been studying a book of Julius Caesar’s battle strategies and has trained the animals in a series of defense strategies. We know the pigs are intelligent, having taught themselves to read, but it suggests a particular level of intellect that Snowball is able to understand and apply such military principles.
On October 12 the animals see the men coming down the road, Mr. Jones leading the way with a menacing gun in his hands. Rather than panic, the animals get into position under the guidance of Snowball. First he has the pigeons attack with excrement from overhead, while the geese bite at the men’s legs. Then the horses and sheep begin butting and kicking, “with Snowball at the head of them.” His bravery encourages the others to continue the attack.
Next, at a pre-planned signal from Snowball, all the animals retreat, leading the men into an ambush in the cowshed, where they all attack at once. Snowball himself goes for Mr. Jones, who shoots at him. In spite of bullet streaks wounding his back, the brave pig rushes at Jones, launching him into a pile of manure and knocking the gun out of his hands. At this all the animals attack in a frenzy, chasing the intruders off the farm for good.
When Boxer expresses sorrow, believing he has killed a stable boy, Snowball encourages them all to instead feel proud of their victory, stating that they should be willing to die for Animal Farm if necessary. In response the animals declare Snowball an “‘Animal Hero, First Class.’” Readers understand that Snowball is cunning and has his own agenda like the rest of the pigs, yet at this point in the story, he is clearly a leader willing to join ranks with his soldiers, not to merely give orders from a safe distance. This is also likely a main reason that Napoleon runs him off the farm, out of jealousy and hunger for total power. As a result, the animals will never get to know if life might have been better on Animal Farm under the leadership of Snowball.