Here is one for our readers to explore. We are currently working on a posting about the Map made by Jedediah Hotchkiss, at the orders of Stonewall Jackson in late February, 1863. Jackson’s order, which was to be kept secret and carried out in secrecy, was to construct a map of the lower Shenandoah Valley and northward all the way to Harrisburg, and east to Philadelphia.
Knowing the land between Harrisburg and Philadelphia along three major routes [I-76 the PA Turnpike, US 322, and US 30 from Lancaster to Philadelphia], we know that each of these routes has long ridges running parallel, often on both sides, which could mask Union troop movements, and that there are two rail lines as well, one from Harrisburg, and one from Lancaster that run east to Philadelphia.
So the request to have the map extend to Philadelphia raises a number of questions:
Why Philadelphia…what made Philadelphia a target for the Army of Northern Virginia?
Was it ever even possible for Lee and the ANV to reach Philadelphia?
Note, that once in Harrisburg, Lee is over a hundred miles from his base in Winchester, Virginia, with not one, but two major rivers between him and that base [the Potomac and the Susquehanna].
Advancing on Philadelphia from east of the Susquehanna requires Lee to have enough ammunition and powder on hand, and to be able to forage enough to feed his army and its horses.
Getting to the heart of Philadelphia would require crossing a third river, the Schuylkill.
Alright, readers, what are your thoughts.
Was it a legitimate objective?
Was it even possible?
Please use the comments section at the bottom of this posting. Share your insights and ideas.