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A Snow Battle

One January morning, in a small Kentucky town, sixty boys and I were gathered in our little schoolhouse. The weather was still warm. We had almost given up on winter ever coming.

But just before recess, one boy out gave a shout which passed from mouth to mouth, until it became a universal cheer as we reached the playground. Floating from a dull, gray sky were white snow-flakes! Winter had arrived!

Soon the ground was white with snow, and we divided ourselves into two opposing armies. That night was a busy one. All hands set to work making sleds and shields for the coming battle.

The next morning, not one boy was late. In fact, when the teachers arrived, all the boys were rolling huge snowballs in the playground. The snow had fallen all night, and it was now quite deep. When we went out at noon, a beautifully fort of snowy whiteness stood ready for us. Our flag floated in the center of a mound in the center.

We took our places inside the fort. We could see the enemy gathered around their captain at their camp, some two hundred yards distant. Their sleds loaded with snow-balls. The lieutenant bore their battle-flag. Our teachers stood 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 into two groups, approaching us from the left and right. “Now, boys!” cried our captain. “Don't throw a ball until they are within range.”

Then the captain called the bravest among us to his side—a flaxen-haired country boy. He had been nicknamed “Daddy” because of his old-looking face. The captain whispered to him and pointed to the flag in the enemy's camp. The boy slipped quietly over the rear wall of the fort, dodged behind a snowdrift, beyond a fence, and was lost to sight.

The enemy marched forward. The party to the right carried their battle-flag. Their captain led the group to the left. We watched both parties, ready to fight. But as they got near us, they rushed toward each other and joined into one group. They came toward us shield to shield, with their sleds of snowballs in the rear. We tried to attack with snowballs, but on they came. A cheer rose from the teachers and others who by this time had gathered near the schoolhouse.

Our noble captain had fallen from his post on the mound in the center of the fort three times. Suddenly, another burst of applause from the onlookers announced some new development. As we looked, we saw “Daddy” with the enemy’s flag, his hair flying in the wind, as he ran for dear life.

In an instant, the enemy was in confusion. Some ran to head off “Daddy.” Others stood and shouted. It was our turn now, and we attacked their broken ranks with snow until they looked like moving snowmen. Another shout, and we looked around to find our captain down and the hands of one of the attacking party almost upon our flag. Quickly we threw him outside the fort.

Then came the tug of war. A rush was made to capture our flag. Several of our boys were pulled out of the fort and taken prisoners. The capture of our fort seemed certain. But the battle continued. Again and again the enemy got near, but our shower of snowballs pushed them back. Once, their lieutenant, had actually succeeded in reaching the central mound. We drove him from the fort. “Daddy” was now a prisoner, and the recaptured flag again floated over the enemy's camp.

Then the school bell called us, fresh and glowing with exercise and healthful excitement, to our lessons. The battle was left undecided, and our fort was soon captured by a warm south wind. Our fort surrendered, and the snow-campaign was over.


Source: A Snow Battle
adapted from the story by Daniel C. Beard, 1881, Public Domain

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