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Letter to Ulysses Grant (July 13, 1863)

Contributing Editors for this page include Michael LoSasso and Michael Van Wambeke

Ranking

#118 on the list of 150 Most Teachable Lincoln Documents

Annotated Transcript

“My Dear General: I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgement for the almost inestimable service you have done the country.”

 

On This Date

HD Daily Report, July 13, 1863

Close Readings

Posted at YouTube by “Understanding Lincoln” participant Michael LoSasso, Fall 2013

Posted at YouTube by “Understanding Lincoln” participant Michael Van Wambeke

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How Historians Interpret

“While president Lincoln had been sorely disappointed that Meade did not pursue Lee after beating him at Gettysburg, his jubilation at Grant’s Vicksburg triumph was profuse and unequivocal.  After announcing, ‘The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea,’ Lincoln then sent a new signal to Grant’s many previous critics and detractors on July 5 by proclaiming: ‘Grant is my man, and I am his the rest of the war.’  Then Lincoln sat down and wrote the following letter. . . Although Lincoln had agreed with the controversial decision to run the gauntlet, he—like Sherman and just about everyone else—had been alarmed when Grant cut loose from his supply line and moved against Jackson.  Now Lincoln, like Sherman, found himself admitting to Grant that he had been mistaken. . . The most tangible evidence of Lincoln’s appreciation, though, was expressed by immediately promoting Grant to Major-General in the regular army on July 7 (backdated to July 4), the highest rank then available to bestow.”

William Farina, Ulysses S. Grant, 1861-1864: His Rise from Obscurity to Military Genius (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2007), 213

NOTE TO READERS

This page is under construction and will be developed further by students in the new “Understanding Lincoln” online course sponsored by the House Divided Project at Dickinson College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. To find out more about the course and to see some of our videotaped class sessions, including virtual field trips to Ford’s Theatre and Gettysburg, please visit our Livestream page at http://new.livestream.com/gilderlehrman/lincoln

 

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Washington, July 13, 1863.

My Dear General

I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgement 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 acknowledgement that you were right and I was wrong.

Yours very truly

(Signed) A. Lincoln

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