Washington, July 13, 1863.
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
–Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler et al.
One of Lincoln’s great moments. No one knows what he has been thinking, what his doubts have been; no one is urging him to confess his error, least of all the victorious general. But he has pricks of conscience, and feels that he must atone for his fault. His doubt in the soundness of Grant’s military judgment was an injustice, and, now that the general has made so brilliant a showing, he must relieve his mind and he can only do this by an avowal which no one is demanding of him, and which, should it be misunderstood, can only damage his prestige. But his poetic temperament makes him a shrewd judge of character, and he knows with whom he can venture so candid an admission.
By Emil Ludwig,”Abraham Lincoln: And the Times that Tried His Soul” Ludwig-377-16