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Portrait of Ulysses Grant
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Letter to General Ulysses S. Grant

Executive Mansion,
Washington, July 13, 1863.

In this remarkable letter, President Abraham Lincoln congratulates General Grant for an important victory -- the capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4, 1863. Lincoln differed with Grant about how to handle the campaign, but when Grant pursued his own strategy successfully, Lincoln frankly admitted that Grant was right.

Lincoln, who would not meet Grant in person until the following year, already wrote about him in glowing terms. In a May 26, 1863 letter to his friend Isaac Arnold, he referred to Grant's possible capture of Vicksburg, saying, "his campaign from the beginning of this month up to the twenty second day of it, is one of the most brilliant in the world."

In December 1866 the year after Lincoln's death, Joseph Gillespie, a legal colleague of Lincoln's from Illinois, mentioned this letter when writing to Lincoln's law partner. "It required no effort on his part to admit another man's superiority, and his admission that General Grant was right and he was wrong about operations in Vicksburg was not intended for effect as some suppose but was perfectly in character."

Major General Grant
My dear General

I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do, what you finally did -- march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port-Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join Gen. Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.

Yours very truly
A. Lincoln


Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler et al.

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