What happened during the "Battle of Cowshed" in Animal Farm?

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The Battle of Cowshed occurred because Mr. Jones finally was able to get a group of men together to attempt to take back his farm.  At first, no one wanted to help Jones.  In fact, Orwell states that people wanted to take advantage of Jones's situation.  However, when the rebellion seemed to be going well, others were afraid that this rebellion might spread.  

Snowball got wind of this and he was ready.  He studied the battle tactics of no one less than Julius Caesar.  Snowball's tactic was threefold. 

First, he sent the pigeons to create disorder among the attackers.  Then he sent the geese to peck at the legs of the people.  All of this was diversionary.  Second, Snowball sent bigger animals like Muriel, Benjamin, and the sheep.  After this initial attack, Snowball ordered them to retreat.  The humans thought they won.  They even rejoiced.  However, this retreat, too, was all a part of his plan. Third, as the men came closer, the horses and cows moved into the battle and surprised and overwhelmed Jones and his men.  Here is the text:

As soon as they were well inside the yard, the three horses, the three cows, and the rest of the pigs, who had been lying in ambush in the cowshed, suddenly emerged in their rear, cutting them off. Snowball now gave the signal for the charge. He himself dashed straight for Jones.

The battle was successful.

Jones was hurled into a pile of dung and his gun flew out of his hands. But the most terrifying spectacle of all was Boxer, rearing up on his hind legs and striking out with his great iron-shod hoofs like a stallion. His very first blow took a stable-lad from Foxwood on the skull and stretched him lifeless in the mud. At the sight, several men dropped their sticks and tried to run.

The animals rejoiced.  Surprisingly, there was only one casualty - a sheep.  The animals gave him honors.  Also they decided to call the battle, "Battle of Cowshed," because that was where the battle was fought. At this point, Snowball was also recognized for his heroic role in the battle.  Perhaps more importantly, October 12th, the date of the battle, would become a lasting memory for the animals. 



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In Animal Farm, George Orwell, reveals the weaknesses of man and how the abuse of power has devastating results. He also shows how history repeats itself and how man, depicted in Animal Farm as simple animals, makes the same mistakes repeatedly. The farm animals have long been abused by Jones and other farmers and have eventually been able to take control of what was Manor Farm. This  marks the turning point in the animals' attempt to retake control of their lives and ensure a promising future for everyone in an equal society. The animals, under the guidance of the more intelligent pigs, are motivated to work hard but, from the beginning, there are disputes and disagreements about the definition of being "equal," as it seems that, unfortunately, some, "are more equal than others." 

Jones does attempt to retake the farm but Snowball's strategies, which include letting Jones believe he has usurped the animals, and Boxer's sheer strength, ensure that the animals remain in control and Jones and his men hastily withdraw, despite their superior fire-power, amidst biting, pushing and kicking. This event is known as The Battle of The Cowshed and both Snowball and Boxer are heralded as heroes, even being rewarded for their valiant efforts. It is a significant event as Napoleon, who prefers brute force to reasoned debate, does not want to share power with the well-organized Snowball. He will later use Snowball's apparent heroic deeds to suggest that, in fact, he is a traitor, confusing the easily-led animals until the farm, actually, returns to its former name of Manor Farm and there is little difference between the men and the pigs, as "already it was impossible to say which was which."

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You can find this described in Chapter 4.

The people come on to the farm to try to drive the animals off.

The animals start off with small attacks.  First pigeons and geese, then sheep and Benjamin the donkey.  Then Snowball gives an order and they all retreat.

At that, the men think they are winning and they charge.  When the men are well inside the yard, the big animals -- horses, cows and pigs -- come out of ambush and surround and attack them.  Snowball, for example, attacks Jones and (even though he gets shot a bit) butts Jones into a dungheap.

The men get kicked and bitten and such until the see a way out and run away.

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Discuss the significance of the Battle of the Cowshed.

The Battle of the Cowshed, which occurs in Chapter 4 of Animal Farm, is the point at which the experiment at Animal Farm seems most likely to survive. Having already driven off Jones in the initial revolution, they now defeat Jones and two other farmers, Mr. Pilkington and Mr. Frederick, that join him in an effort to retake Animal Farm. Beyond this significance, the episode is also important in that it sees Snowball emerge as a true revolutionary hero. He is the one that plots and orchestrates the animals' defense, and he and Boxer are awarded the title of Animal Hero, First Class. But after the battle, Snowball has a falling out with Napoleon over the construction of the windmill, which he supports, and is driven from the farm by Napoleon's dogs. After this event, the Battle of the Cowshed becomes significant as an example of how Napoleon and Squealer manipulate information. Snowball's role in the battle is written out, and at one point in the story, Squealer tells the animals that Snowball actually assisted the humans in the assault on the farm. He predicts after Snowball's expulsion that "the time will come when we shall find that Snowball’s part in it was much exaggerated," and due to his considerable skill as a propagandist, this prediction comes true. 

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