The Long Road HomeGo Back
General Robert E. Lee's surrender to General Grant at Appomattox in April 1865 was followed by the surrender of the remaining Confederate armies over the next six weeks. Defeated and discouraged, Confederate officers and soldiers signed paroles and loyalty oaths. Prisoners of war were released, and soldiers were mustered out to start the painful and arduous journey home. The war was over, but the struggle back to normalcy was just beginning. For some Missouri Confederates surrender was never an option; instead, as one soldier put it, they preferred "exile to degradation."
African American soldiers shared the relief and joy of their white counterparts, but they faced a long and difficult battle as they attempted to live a life in freedom. Military service had provided a glimpse of the equal strength and ability of black men. The postwar years were just the start of a long fight for that equality.