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What Happened to Confederate Leaders After They Lost the Civil War?

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The deadliest conflict in American history ended in April 1865. In school and in history books, we learned about what happened before and during the war, but what happened to the various characters who made the decisions that shaped the conflict?

This is what happened to 10 Confederate leaders after they were defeated in the Civil War.

1. Jefferson Davis

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The president of the Confederacy spent two years in a Virginia prison. After his release, Davis spent time in Canada, Cuba, and England before going on to operate an insurance company. He hired only former Confederate officers for his business.

2. Alexander Stephens

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The vice president of the Confederacy was held in prison in Boston until six months after the war ended. Stephens remained a rabid racist and became the governor of Georgia.

3. Robert E. Lee

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The most famous Confederate general of the Civil War was not arrested when the battles ended. Lee served as the head of Washington College. He was revered in the South, and he often had to speak out against resuming the Civil War, as many southerners wanted.

4. George Pickett

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The man who led the famous Pickett’s Charge believed he was going to be prosecuted for war crimes and fled to Canada. He was pardoned two years later and returned to the U.S. He was in ill health for the remainder of his life and died in 1875.

5. John Bell Hood

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The Confederate general was a successful businessman for several years until an economic crisis ruined his business. He caught yellow fever and died shortly thereafter.

6. Joe Johnston

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The controversial general had interests in railroad and insurance and became a relatively successful businessman after the war. He also served one term as a Democratic congressman. He became a friend of Union General William Sherman, caught a cold at Sherman’s funeral and died soon after.

7. P.G.T. Beauregard

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Beauregard was a businessman after the war, and, although he still held anti-black beliefs, he worked to establish black rights, as he believed it was for the good of the country.

8. Simon Buckner

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Bucker ran a newspaper after the Civil War, amassed a fortune, and worked in politics in his native Kentucky. He lived until the age of 90 and died in 1914.

9. Nathan Bedford Forrest

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Nathan Bedford Forrest was the first leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Later in his life, he denounced violence and racism and became an advocate for civil rights. He died in 1877 at the age of 56.

10. James Longstreet

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Longstreet embraced the Union cause after the war, making him a pariah in the South. Longstreet was shot and captured during The Battle of Liberty Place, an election fight that broke out in New Orleans in 1874. After his release, he became a turkey farmer and named his farm “Gettysburg.” He died in 1904.