A monument stands in Manassass, Va. to the 5th New York regiment, which was devestated at the Second Battle of Manassas
The National Park Service is conducting several walking tours to commemorate the final day of the Second Battle of Manassas, which occurred 150 years ago.
It was there, in the area of the battlefield known as Deep Cut, that the decisive blow of the battle occurred 150 years ago Thursday. Union troops led by General Fitz John Porter were brutally swept back across the field by Confederate forces.
Just after 4 p.m. that afternoon, a Confederate advance started toward the grassy slope just south of the present day Lee Highway. The 5th New York regiment rushed to form a line to stop the oncoming assault, but they were quickly overrun by the oncoming Rebels. In less than ten minutes, 123 members of the regiment were either killed or mortally wounded.
One Union veteran referred to the Southern counterattack that day as a "hurricane of death." That was the single greatest loss of life suffered by any Union infantry regiment in any single action during the Civil War.
The stunning defeat led to the defining moment of the Civil War, as Confederate General Robert E. Lee, emboldened by this victory, soon crossed over the Potomac River into Union territory. Lee's Maryland Campaign would end a few short weeks later at the Battle of Antietam, after which his army returned to Virginia.
That battle's result would lead President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, making the end of slavery the chief objective of the war.