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|I think people under estimate lee. I dont think anyone on this board can honestly say that lee was an incompetent commander. Lee would not have invaded the north if he didnt think it held a plausible chance of victory. If New york and New jersey had raised tens of thousands of milita which may have been possible, i dont think they would have been able to stand up to the ANV for 5 minutes let alone enough time to trap lee between grants troops that would take nearly a week to arrive. Lee's overall plan for the 1863 campaign was to relieve pressure from vicksburg, to achieve this he would have had to pose a threat to washington, by cutting off their lines of communication. I do not think Lee's army could have taken washington, not with the navy just offshore but Lincoln would still have had to withdraw from the city along with his entire cabinet.
If Lincoln had to withdraw from washington along with congressmen and senators numbering what, 600? How many soldiers would have to accompany them to the next capital? Where would those troops come from? Yes, i think Lincoln would have sent a telegram to Grant to dispatch a corp from his army to come east... but what would have happened with vicksburg?