With Lee’s army retreating from Gettysburg, in the West General John Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg, Mississippi to Federal forces commanded by Ulysses Grant. Approximately 29,000 Confederates surrendered after weeks of siege by Federal forces.
When Union soldiers entered the city, many soldiers—acting without orders—began to hand out food to the departing Confederates and Vicksburg’s civilian population. It was obvious to all that the Confederate troops and civilians were starving as a result of Grant’s siege of the city.
On July 4, 1863 an overjoyed Abraham Lincoln learned both of Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg and of Grant’s triumph at Vicksburg. It is said that the president of the United States cried tears of joy over the news. Union forces now held the initiative in the American Civil War.