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|On reflection, I realize that Lee favored the western route in order to conceal his movements as well as to save his strength. JEB Stuart's cavalry corps did get ensnared in this perimeter network when they entered Maryland en route to Pennsylvania in late June '63; and this of course is why Stuart was late to Gettysburg.
DC had a double layer of troops and fortifications for most of the war. There was the army and its works in and around Washington City proper, and then the outer ring with encampments and pickets going out to Manassas and beyond. Counting the Adjutant General's file clerks, troop strength in this whole area seems to have been at least 50,000 for most of the war (my approximation). McClellan's complaint during the Peninsular campaign was that too many of his divisions were being appropriated for defense of the Capital. An extraordinary map from late in the war: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5d/1865_Washington.jpg