The Schroeder Books

Vortex of Hell 5th New York Brian PohankaVortex of Hell 5th New York Brian Pohanka


Vortex of Hell : History of the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry 

By Brian C. Pohanka

Published by SCHROEDER PUBLICATIONS November, 2012.  Hard cover with dust jacket; 664 pages; 150 photos, maps & illustrations; index; bibliography.

ISBN: 1-889246-73-5. Price: $60.00 U.S.

“Where the Regiment stood that day was the very vortex of Hell," ~~Andrew Coats, Private, “Duryée’s Zouaves,” remembering the Battle of Second Manassas.

On April 12th, 1861, a group of military enthusiasts gathered in Manhattan to form a two-year volunteer regiment in support of the Union cause. Their unanimous choice for commander was Colonel Abram Duryée, a wealthy mahogany importer with three decades of militia experience. At Duryée's suggestion the new unit was outfitted in a colorful variation of the Zouave uniform, described by one reporter as a "wild Saracenic costume." The flashy attire and Duryée's reputation attracted hundreds of eager volunteers for the Fifth New York Volunteer Infantry.

Nicknamed "Duryée's Zouaves," the Fifth was one of the most renowned fighting regiments of the American Civil War. Their colorful Zouave uniform, precise maneuvers, effectiveness in combat, and steady bearing under fire won them universal respect and recognition. Many observers considered the Fifth New York to be the best-drilled volunteer unit in the Federal Army. After suffering the heaviest casualties in the first engagement of the Civil War at Big Bethel, the regiment was posted to Baltimore before joining McClellan’s Army of the Potomac for the Peninsular Campaign.  The Zouaves proved their fighting prowess at the battle of Gaines’ Mill inflicting the highest number of Confederate casualties on the 1st South Carolina Rifles that day.  Just over two months later the Fifth suffered a similar fate in a vain attempt to stop General Longstreet’s assault at Second Manassas.  Despite losing 330 men that day, the Fifth soldiered on with an influx of new recruits at the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville before mustering out of service in May 1863.  Nine of its soldiers attained the rank of general.

Drawing from period sources such as regimental records and soldier letters and recollections, Vortex of Hell recounts their journey from citizens to soldiers, in camp and in battle, and beyond.


Vortex of Hell Pohanka book - Civil War books

History of the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry: Vortex of Hell


Return to Schroeder Books        Return Home

131 Tanglewood Drive, Lynchburg, VA  24502
(434) 525-4431