Digital Commonwealth

The Battle of Kirkham Flats - The Flag Rush (c. 1928)

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The Battle of Kirkham Flats - The Flag Rush (c. 1928)
This picture is of the Battle of Kirkham Flats during the Springfield College annual tradition of the flag rush that took place on October 25, 1928 at 11:02 am down on the narrow point behind the college’s Power House. Depicted are the freshman (in the square around the flag) and sophomore classes, the class of ’26 vs. ’27, in which the freshmen or “Frosh” class defeated the sophomores or “Sophs” in the flag rush.
October 25, 1928
Springfield College Archives and Special Collections
Collection (local):
College Archives Digital Collections
Student Activities Records
Springfield College
Springfield College--Buildings
Power Plant
Springfield College--Campus
Springfield College--Traditions
Springfield (Mass.)
Power plants
MassachusettsHampden (county)Springfield
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Springfield College
The rules for the surprise flag rush were that the freshmen had to sneakily plant a flagpole on campus, bearing their class numerals, any time between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm. In that time the sophomores had two hours in which to attack. If the flag was up for two hours and no sophomores had attacked it, a victory was declared for the freshmen. The flagpole was not allowed to be more than 15 feet above the ground, and it could be greased, although other obstructions such as nails were prohibited. Furthermore, the flag had to be 4 feet by 2 feet. At the first contact between the two classes as witnessed by the referees after the flag is up, the official tie of the contest began. The scrap was allowed to last 15 minutes unless the flag was captured before the time expired. The flag must have been removed from the pole by the hands. All offensive and defensive tactics had to have been approved by the Senate beforehand. Furthermore, no cleated shoes were to be worn during the contest. During the 1928 contest, the Frosh had made preparations during the night by digging a hole and having the pole on hand ready to put it up as early morning approached. However, the Sophs were alert and after the Frosh left the area, they stole the pole and shovels and filled in the hole. On arriving the next morning, the Frosh received quite a setback when they discovered what had transpired after they left the night before. This did not faze them for long, as later that morning a car was seen bearing a new flag pole fastened to its side headed for the point. The Frosh dug a new 4-foot ditch and left a space in front in which they piled up brush. Their pole consisted of a 4-inch iron pipe that was well greased. Attached was a flag made from tent canvas that was also greased and bound the pole by secure wires. When the Sophs arrived the battle finally started, and the ditch was immediately filled with people. The Frosh formed themselves into a solid ring and locked arms around the pole. Despite the charging, pulling, and wrestling that commenced, the Frosh defense was able to hold back the Sophs and they were declared the winners. From the 1920s through the 1960s freshmen united against the sophomore class in a series of friendly rivalries. These events ranged from a surprise flag scrap to a cane rush and various other competitions. One of the roughest games was cage ball, which the two classes played every fall. Played on a football field with a ball roughly nine feet in diameter, the object of cage ball was to push the ball across an established line to the opponent's side for a goal. About the only rule was that play was to be stopped when the ball went out of bounds. Other annual contests included an action-packed rope pull over Lake Massasoit.
Mat surrounding photograph reads: The Battle of Kirkham Flats The Flag Rush '26 vs. '27; Item is stored with the oversized materials (see document marker)