Friday, February 5, 2021

Snowball Fights in War and Play

by Anita Mae Draper

The Snowball Battle near Dalton, Georgia. Mar 22, 1864. Public Domain

Alfred Rudolph Waud (1828-1891) was an American artist and illustrator who sketched a snowball battle between several divisions of Confederate soldiers while they were encamped near Dalton, Georgia on March 22, 1864. Waud's artwork on the American Civil War caught people's attention, especially the mock battle which has been called by some as the greatest snowball fight of all time. Although we don't often think of soldiers having fun, a snowball fight is a good form of exercising multiple muscles as well as relieving pent up emotions. (see my last post, Snowballs Go Way Back)

The February 26, 1881 issue of the Canadian Illustrated News carried an image called, Snowball fight between First Nations boys, Red River, ManitobaOn the Canadian prairies, a rebellion by the Metis people, who were led by Louis Riel, culminated in the North-west Rebellion of 1885. This was a time when the North-West Mounted Police often stood between the First Nations, the Metis, and the settlers. Winters were brutal on the prairies. Tensions often ran high. Snowball fights were serious affairs, especially to those of the verge of a major conflict.

Snowball Fight Between First Nations Boys, Red River, Manitoba, 1881. Glenbow Archives

In 1895 the Lothrop Publishing Company of Boston printed the book, The Boy Life of Napoleon, Afterwards Emperor of the French. The title page states that the book was adapted and extended for American Boys and Girls from Madame Eugenie Foa's French version. Chapter Twelve under the heading of The Great Snow-Ball Fight at Brienne School is fascinating. Not only does it show a snowball fight which went of for nearly ten days, it also shows Napoleon's legendary military skills from a very early age. The Boy Life of Napoleon (

The Great Snow-Ball Fight at Brienne School. (Young Napoleon). Public Domain

In 1897, the Lumiere Brothers of France put out a short film about a snowball fight. It was one of several films the brothers made between 1895 and 1905 before stating that "the cinema is an invention without any future." Instead, they switched to the color printing process and refused to sell their Cinematographe motion picture system to anyone else. This was even after a single showing of a short film to a private audience, followed by a paying audience, both in 1895, put the Lumiere Brothers down in history as founders of the birth of cinema

The YouTube Channel Nineteenth Century Videos, Back to Life, gives an interesting look at history in motion.

Do you like watching the old black and white films even though you can't hear what they are saying?


Anita Mae Draper served in the communication trade of the Canadian Armed Forces before retiring to the open skies of the prairies. She uses her experience and love of history to pepper her stories of yesteryear's romance with realism and faith. Anita Mae Draper's published stories appear in Barbour Publishing, WhiteFire Publishing, and Guideposts Books. Readers can enrich their story experience with visual references by checking out Anita's Pinterest boards. All links available on her website at



  1. Thanks for posting! It WAS fun to watch that little clip, and who knew there was so much to know about snowball fights?!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Connie. Thanks for dropping by. :)

  2. What a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing. I loved the video. I'm a huge fan of B&W films, silent or talkies!

    1. You're very welcome. I appreciate you stopping by and letting me know. :)

  3. Thanks for posting today. This is a fun article. There is something about snow that brings the kid in us out. May it never get lost.

    1. Thanks, Lori. I love the changing of the seasons although I've always said I could do without the horrid snow. But it's only in these past few years where we've experienced drought after only receiving a few inches of snow instead of our normal three to four feet that I've come face-to-face with our environmental crisis. As someone who's lived with snow my entire life, the thought of having it disappear - without my traveling somewhere - fills me with alarm.
      I whole-heartedly agree with you... May our wonder of snow never be lost.