MANASSAS, Va. — The North thought it would deliver a crushing blow to the Rebel Army on its way to capturing the Confederate capital in Richmond. The South thought a decisive battle would prove to the North that the Union could not be kept together by force.

But the Battle of Bull Run, also called the Battle of Manassas, proved only to both sides that the Civil War would be a long, bloody affair. On Thursday, officials will mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s first major land battle with ceremonies at Manassas National Battlefield Park.

Thursday’s commemorations are the first in a weekend of activities surrounding the anniversary, culminating in a battle re-enactment this weekend on a nearby farm that could draw more than 100,000 spectators Saturday and Sunday.