An entry on July 13th, 2013 reproduces a letter by Lincoln to General Grant of July 13th, 1863, exactly 150 years earlier. Lincoln congratulates Grant on his victory in the then-recently-ended Vicksburg campaign. (Grant's siege of Vicksburg ended July 4th, when the Confederate general surrendered -- 30,000 Confederates became prisoners in a day. An entire Confederate field army, the Army of Mississippi, gone.) Lincoln admits he was wrong and Grant was right about strategy.
[To] Major General Grant Executive Mansion,
My dear General Washington, July 13, 1863.
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 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
There is, I think, something very American (old American) about Lincoln's attitude there. I don't have the verbal ability to concisely say what I mean, so I will lift the words of R.W. Emerson: "Sincerity, simplicity, and humility without servility." These were American "folk-virtues", historically. (This personality-archetype has allowed Europeans these past few centuries to think of Americans as unsophisticated rubes). George Washington was like that. Robert E Lee was like that. A lot of now-living Americans are still like that, but people like that are not "cool" anymore. My father's extended family is pretty much like that, I think. My mother's side, too, but less so.
This reminds me of an observation someone had at the informal soccer games I've been at in Korea. Most players are British and some are North-American. You often hear the Americans play-down their own abilities ("I'm not very good"...), while the British/Irish players never do. There's not much difference in actual ability between us all, but you'd think North-Americans were far inferior from attitudes on display. That's "American humility" at work, maybe.
Humility is "big" in East-Asia, too, of course. After over three years here now, though, it's my impression that, when push comes to shove, East-Asian humility is usually (1) not sincere, and (2) actually about servility, not humility. I mean, among East-Asians, a person may appear humble or accomodating, but in fact is most often "submitting" because his/her social position demands it (e.g. an employee submitting to the boss), not because he/she is an independent actor in the world who is independently humble. Insincerity also dominates social interactions here, more than I've ever seen among my own people. It's that "face" thing, I guess.
Anyway, no social pressure impelled Lincoln to write to Grant saying "you were right and I was wrong". No social pressure impelled him, after news of the surrender at Appomattox arrived, ending the war, to order the White House band to play "Dixie" -- which he did, amazingly.
Related: I wrote in post-14 about a 'relative' who was killed at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. I consider him to be the first person bearing my surname to have lived in the USA, and will continue to think so until I see contrary evidence.