Battle of the Windmill
Date Unspecified
Location Napoleon Mill, Animal Farm
Result Pyrrhic Animalist victory[1]

Destruction of Napoleon Mill

File:Animalism flag.svg Animal Farm Pinchfield Farm
Napoleon Frederick
Unspecified Fifteen men
Casualties and losses
One cow, three sheep and two geese dead Three dead, two injured

The Battle of the Windmill is a fictional battle in the novella Animal Farm by George Orwell.


For two years, the animals of Animal Farm worked to construct a windmill that would help with their work. The first attempt was destroyed by a storm because of its thin walls, but the leader Napoleon claims it was sabotaged by Snowball. Finally, the animals completed the windmill. Afterwards, Napoleon made deals with two neighboring farms, Foxwood (led by Mr. Pilkington) and Pinchfield (led by Mr. Frederick). Napoleon accepted a deal with Frederick and sold timber for five pounds. Three days later, Napoleon discovered the notes were counterfeit. He immediately ordered a death sentence on Frederick.

The next morning, Frederick and his men arrived with the intent to attack and gain control of the title deeds of Animal Farm. The animals realized that they couldn't win like they did at the Battle of the Cowshed: there were more men and six had firearms. Napoleon expected that Pilkington would come help, but his pigeons delivered a message from Pilkington: "Serves you right." With all the animals frightened, Napoleon and Boxer were unable to rally the others.

After advancing to the windmill, Fredrick drilled a hole and placed explosives inside. "All the animals, except Napoleon" took cover; Orwell had the publisher alter this from "All the animals, including Napoleon" in recognition of Joseph Stalin's decision to remain in Moscow during the German advance.[2] Enraged at the destruction, the animals counterattacked, but sustained heavy casualties. After a violent and costly confrontation, Napoleon unleashed his corps of attack dogs; after their attack, the men retreated; however, it came at great cost.

Absence in the film version[]

The battle is absent in the 1999 film version; in the film, Mr. and Mrs. Jones destroyed the windmill themselves.


Sant Singh Bal describes the battle as one "of the important episodes which constitute the essence of the plot of the novel."[3]


Scholars have offered two interpretations of what the fictional battle represents, one seeing the book's events as a parallel to the French Revolution and the other as a parallel of the Russian Revolution. Harold Bloom writes that the "Battle of the Windmill rings a special bell: the repulse of the Duke of Brunswick in 1792, following the Prussian bombardment that made the windmill of Valmy famous."[4] By contrast, Peter Edgerly Firchow and Peter Hobley Davison consider that in real life, with events in Animal Farm mirroring those in the Soviet Union, this fictional battle represents the Great Patriotic War (World War II[5]), especially the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Moscow.[6]

See also[]

  • The real-life Battle of the Windmill, which took place in 19th-century Canada.


  1. Loraine Saunders, The Unsung Artistry of George Orwell (2008), 20.
  2. Joseph Conrad and Paul Kirschner, Under Western Eyes (1996), 286.
  3. Sant Singh Bal, George Orwell (1981), 124.
  4. Harold Bloom, George Orwell (2007), 148.
  5. Peter Edgerly Firchow, Modern Utopian Fictions from H.G. Wells to Iris Murdoch (2008), 102.
  6. Peter Hobley Davison, George Orwell (1996), 161.