An Old Snow Battle




Search  Inquiry Net

Back ] Home ] Up ]

Snowball Rules
Snowball Battle
Kit Carson Snow Battle
Snowball Shield
An Old Snow Battle

Scout Books

Site Contents

By Dan Beard

The following sketch of a snow battle in which the author took part when a boy, will give an idea of the excitement and interest of the game.

It was a year when the Indian summer had been prolonged into the winter.  Christmas had come and gone and a new year begun, but not one flake of snow had fallen on the river bank or neighboring hills.  

Such was the condition of things one January morning in a Kentucky town upon the banks of the Ohio River, where myself and some sixty other boys were gathered in a little frame school-house.  We had about made up our minds that old Jack Frost was a humbug, and winter a myth; but when the bell tapped for recess, the first boy out gave a shout which passed from mouth to mouth until it became a universal cheer as we reached the play-grounds, for floating airily down from a dull, leaden, gray sky came hundreds of white snow-flakes! Winter had come! Jack Frost was no longer a humbug!

Before the bell again recalled us to our study the ground was whitened with snow, and the school divided into two opposing armies.  That night was a busy one-all hands set to work manufacturing ammunition sleds and shields for the coming battle.  It was my fortune to be chosen as one of the garrison of the fort. 

There was not a boy late next morning-in fact, when the teachers arrived to open the school, they found all the scholars upon the play-grounds, rolling huge snowballs.  All the snow had continued to fall, and it was now quite deep.  When we went out at noon a beautifully modeled fort of snowy whiteness stood ready for us, and from a mound in the center floated the battle flag.

Our company took their places inside the fortifications.  We could see the enemy gathered around their leader at their camp some two hundred yards distant, their ammunition sleds loaded with well-made snowballs.  The lieutenant bore their battle-flag.  Our teachers showed their interest by standing shivering with wet feet in the deep snow to watch the battle. 

At a blast from a tin horn on rushed the foe!  They separated and came in two divisions, approaching us from the left and right. 

"Now, boys," cried our leader, " be careful not to throw a ball until they are within range."

Then, calling the pluckiest among us, a flaxen-haired country boy, to his side, he whispered a word or two and pointed to the flag in the enemy's camp.  The boy, who had been nicknamed "Daddy " on account of his old-looking face, slipped quietly over the rear wall of the fort, dodged behind a snow-drift and then behind a fence, and was lost to sight.

 Forward marched the enemy, their battle-flag borne in advance of the party to the right.  Their leader was at the head of the division to the left.  Having engaged our attention on the two flanks, where we stood ready to receive them, as they neared us, by a quick and well-executed maneuver, rushing obliquely toward each other, the two divisions unexpectedly joined, and advanced, shield to shield, with the ammunition sleds in the rear. 

It was in vain we pelted them with snowballs; on they came, encouraged by a cheer from the teachers and some spectators who by this time had gathered near the school-house.  Three times had our noble leader been tumbled from his perch upon the mound in the center of the fort, when another burst of applause from the spectators announced some new development, and as we looked, we could see " Daddy " with the colors of the enemy's camp in his arms, his tow hair flying in the wind as he ran for dear life. 

In an instant the line of the enemy was all in confusion; some ran to head off "Daddy," while others in their excitement stood and shouted.  It was our turn now, and we pelted their broken ranks with snow until they looked like animated snowmen.  Another shout, and we looked around to find our leader down and the hands of one of the besieging party almost upon our flag. It was the work of a second to pitch the intruder upon his back outside the fort. 

Then came the tug of war.  A rush was made to capture our standard, several of our boys were pulled out of the fort and taken prisoners, and the capture of the fort seemed inevitable.  Again and again a number of the enemy, among whom was their color-bearer, gained the top of our breastworks, and again and again were they tumbled off amid a shower of snowballs that forced them to retire to gain breath and clear their eyes from the snow.  

Once their lieutenant, with the red-bordered battle-flag, had actually succeeded in reaching the mound upon which stood our colors, when a combined attack that nearly resulted in his being made prisoner drove him from the fort to gather strength for another rush. "Daddy " was now a prisoner, and the recaptured flag again floated over the enemy's camp, when the school-bell called us, fresh and glowing with exercise and healthful excitement, to our lessons. 

The battle was left undecided, but our fort was soon captured by a force stronger than any our companions were able to bring against it, for a warm south wind sprang up from the lowlands down the river, and our fortification quickly yielded to its insidious attack, and the snow campaign was over. 

How to Bind a Prisoner Without a Cord

A gentleman who was much interested in the foregoing description of snowball warfare sends a sketch of the manner he and his playmates used to bind their prisoners taken in snow battles.  The captive was taken to a post or sapling with a smooth trunk and compelled to put his arms and legs around it as if he were about to climb. 

The right leg crossed the left leg, and the toe of the right shoe was pushed behind the post or tree trunk in the position shown by the illustration. After taking this position the prisoner was gently pushed down into a sitting position. 

It is next to impossible for a person so fixed to arise without help.  The toe of the left shoe binds the right leg; the toe of the right shoe binds the post, and the arms can be only used to hold on by.  When a friend reaches the captive he takes him by the arms and lifts him up. As soon as the prisoner assumes an upright position he can free himself without difficulty.

Company Rest: A Prisoner of War

The same gentleman who sent the above ingenious device also tells of some funny maneuvers the boys used to go through.  For instance, during a lull in the battle, the commander would call out "Company rest! "  One man then assumed a stooping position; the next man sat on the right knee of the first man; a third man would sit upon the right knee of the second man and so on until a circle was formed, each fellow sitting in some other fellow's lap and yet no one sitting upon anything else. "Thus," says the correspondent, "we all were enabled to sit down without using the damp snow for a camp stool."


How to Build Snow Forts;
Kit Carson Snow Fort & Battle
How to Make Ammunition Sleds
How to Make the Shield

Snowball Fight Rules;
Other Snowball Games

See Also:
Snow Tag Game;
Other Winter Snow Games;
Other Winter Activities.

American Boys Handy Book






Additional Information:

Peer- Level Topic Links:
Snowball Rules ] Snowball Battle ] Snow-Fort ] Kit Carson Snow Battle ] Snowball Shield ] [ An Old Snow Battle ]

Parent- Level Topic Links:
Winter Games ] Snowball Warfare ] Skate Sailing ] Woods in Winter ] Snowmen ] Snow Statuary ] Ice Fishing ] Skating ] Evening Entertainment ] Winter Projects ] Advancement ] Polar Bear Swim ] Snow & Ice ]

The Inquiry Net Main Topic Links:
 [Outdoor Skills]  [Patrol Method [Old-School]  [Adults [Advancement]  [Ideals]  [Leadership]  [Uniforms]

Search This Site:

Search Amazon.Com:

When you place an order with Amazon.Com using the search box below, a small referral fee is returned to The Inquiry Net to help defer the expense of keeping us online.  Thank you for your consideration!



Amazon Logo



Scout Books Trading Post

Dead Bugs, Blow Guns, Sharp Knives, & Snakes:
What More Could A Boy Want?

Old School Scouting:
What to Do, and How to Do It!

To Email me, replace "(at)" below with "@"

If you have questions about one of my 2,000 pages here, you must send me the "URL" of the page!
This "URL" is sometimes called the "Address" and it is usually found in a little box near the top of your screen.  Most URLs start with the letters "http://"

The Kudu Net is a backup "mirror" of The Inquiry Net.  

2003, 2011 The Inquiry Net,  In addition to any Copyright still held by the original authors, the Scans, Optical Character Recognition, extensive Editing,  and HTML Coding on this Website are the property of the Webmaster.   My work may be used by individuals for non-commercial, non-web-based activities, such as Scouting, research, teaching, and personal use so long as this copyright statement and a URL to my material is included in the text
The purpose of this Website is to provide access  to hard to find, out-of-print documents.  Much of the content has been edited to be of practical use in today's world and is not intended as historical preservation.   I will be happy to provide scans of specific short passages in the original documents for people involved in academic research.  


Last modified: October 15, 2016.