In 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant was the Optimus Prime of the Union Army and the future 18th President of the United States, as shown in the famed documentary film Wild Wild West. He had plenty of negative personality traits to balance out all that high-and-mightiness, though: Grant had a reputation as a drunk and was known to hate meat with a taste of blood in it (notoriously embarrassing during a time when bloody was the only flavor meat came in) and for accepting no terms but unconditional surrender on occasion.
"No one's hat shall be taller than mine."
Grant was preparing his army to march on the Southern capital, where Robert E. Lee and his troops waited, in a buildup to what would be the Battle of the Wilderness, the first of their many death matches.
On the road to the battlefield, Grant knew full well who he was up against and where he was heading. His mind must have been teeming with strategies for what was destined to be the single bloodiest part of the Civil War. Within mere days, he would face battles so intense, thousands of people would be gunned down in minutes. What's more, Grant was developing the headache of his life. Which made it all the more amazing when he dropped it all to defend a horse.
To be fair, it was a really attractive horse.
His party came upon a teamster whose cart had sunk in the mud. In true "minor bad guy in a history movie" fashion, the man was attempting to get out of the ditch by whipping the ever-loving crap out of his poor horse.
From that second on, it was clear that Grant -- a man famous for showing little fear or emotion -- did in fact have one berserk button: cruelty to animals, particularly horses. Grant Hulked out the instant he saw the poor horse, visibly angered for the first time since, well, ever.
The teamster paid him no attention. That was his first strike.
"Whipping horses is cruel, but exposing them to gunfire and explosions is totally cool."
Grant ordered the man to stop, swearing like a sailor, despite notoriously despising foul language. The teamster, who must have been either the bravest or the dumbest person in the history of everything, somehow saw this as a challenge and answered back: "Who's driving this team anyhow, you or me?" Second strike.
There never was a third strike. Within the minute, the teamster found himself tied to a tree for six hours, while he thought long and hard about what he did.
This tree should do fine.
Yes, we realize almost all of our examples are from the Civil War. Our research found conclusively that it was the most adorable war ever fought, and we dare you to prove otherwise.
In February of 1863, the Confederate Army found itself in a jam near Rappahannock Academy. Two back-to-back snowstorms buried several divisions under nearly a foot and a half of snow in northern Virginia. After five days of relentless snow, the sun finally returned and milder temperatures began to soften the deep snow cover.
A lot of good snowmen died that day.
The soldiers emerged from their tents into the newly white landscape, pushed to their extreme limit. They were wet, freezing, filthy and hungry -- this could not go on any further. They had one thing in mind, and one thing alone:
A 10,000-man snowball fight.
The Confederate Army had recently undergone an organizational overhaul, which had led to a certain amount of friendly rivalry between units. Up to that point, this had been limited to verbal barbs and we assume the occasional West Side Story-style dance battle. But when the battle-hardened soldiers took one look at the vast fields of ideal-for-snowballs snow, they knew shit was about to go down -- 11-year-old style.
"Make them snowballs bigger. I've got me an idea ..."
In the morning of February 25, General Hoke riled up his North Carolinian soldiers for an early morning assault at the camp of Colonel Stiles' Georgian Brigade. They formed up in full battle lines -- complete with cavalry and everything -- and followed their officers straight into the Georgians' camp, where they proceeded to pelt them with snowballs.
Understandably, the Georgians were taken by surprise when the barrage of friendly fire hit them in the form of a metric fuckton of snow. It was looking like a quick victory for Hoke's boys, until everyone at the nearby camps noticed what was going on and decided to help. The influx of reinforcements joined in on the ruckus and pushed Hoke's soldiers back.
"Hey! That one had a severed finger in it!"
With North Carolina on the retreat, Colonel Stiles quickly convened a Council of Snowball War for counterattack measures. He decided to employ a variation of the most basic of military strategies: organize his troops, put a snowball in the hand of each man and march straight into the heart of "enemy" territory.
Sadly, Stiles had never learned the "build a big-ass snow wall and park yourself behind it" gambit as a kid, while Hoke clearly had plenty of experience. Stiles' men stormed the North Carolinians' camp in a neat formation -- only to find Hoke's troops standing steadfast against them, each and every one of them holding the middle schooler's equivalent of a Gatling gun: a sack filled to the brim with snowballs.
"How stupid are they? We've got guns."
What followed was nothing less than a snowbath, where hundreds of Georgians were captured and "whitewashed." It was later described by a participant as "one of the most memorable combats of the war." Even though the Georgians and their allies eventually succumbed to the superior firepower of the North Carolinians, everyone went back to their camps happy -- they'd all had jolly good fun, and the worst injuries of the day were a few bumps and scrapes here and there.
So, in case you spend your time reading comedy websites, governments of the world: Please consider fighting all future wars as epic snowball battles. The precedent's right there.
So that's sorted then, Canada. Mexico can referee.
For more stories that combine cuteness with war, check out this article.
For some not-so-cute war stories, check out 5 Soldiers Whose Horrific Injuries Only Made Them Angry and 6 WWI Fighter Pilots Whose Balls Deserve Their Own Monument.