They had no way of earning money. Some people went back to the plantatino and begged to be taken back for a small wage. Slavery in some areas didn't officially stop. They still had slaves, and weren't caught for a while.
The US government gave free men a plow and acres of land, but unless they were extremely knowlegadble, they didn't know how to make a living. They had been cotton picking all their life, and their parents had been cotton-pickers, and their grandparents, and their great-grandparents...
Plus, people still treated them like dirt. They were free, but they were still blacks. Until Martin Luther King and the Equalazation of blacks was made a law, they were treated very badly.