When Johnny Comes Marching Home

TITLE: When Johnny Comes Marching Home
AUTHOR: Words: “Louis Lambert” (Patrick S. Gilmore)
CATEGORY: author known, public domain
KEYWORDS: home, war, return, reunion, nonballad
EARLIEST DATE: 1863 (sheet music published by Henry Tolman & Co, Boston)
HISTORICAL REFERENCES: United States Civil War

jb_civil_parade_1_eWhen Johnny Comes Marching Home expressed people’s longing for the return of their friends and relatives who were fighting in the Civil War.

The tune for this song began as an 18th century anti-war song, Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye. Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore wrote this well known version after the Union Army successfully defeated the Confederate Army after the battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. 

Scholars continue to argue whether “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” or the doleful “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye” is the original. “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” can be firmly dated to the beginning of the Civil War, while “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye” does not appear until slightly later (1869) — but as a traditional song. The earliest known printing is, in fact, that of “Johnny Fill Up the Bowl” (early 1863).

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:
SAME TUNE:

  • Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye
  • Bille. McGee, McGaw
  • When Hubby Comes Sneaking Home
  • Johnny Fill Up the Bowl (In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-One)
  • Snapoo
  • The Widow-Maker Soon Must Cave [Anti-Lincoln campaign song of 1864]

RECORDINGS:

YOUTUBE VIDEO: 

YOUTUBE AUDIO:
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BONUS AUDIO:
Stephen Griffith & Friends (Studio Session) download
LYRIC & CHORD PRO CHART:
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BONUS YOUTUBE VIDEO:

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

When Johnny comes marching home again,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give him a hearty welcome then,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer and the boys will shout
The ladies they will all turn out
And we’ll all say yea
When Johnny comes marching home.

The old church bell will peal with joy,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The village lads and lassies say
With roses they will strew the way,
And we’ll all say yea
When Johnny comes marching home.

Get ready for the Jubilee,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give the hero three times three,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The laurel wreath is ready now
To place upon his loyal brow
And we’ll all say yea
When Johnny comes marching home.

And we’ll all say yea
When Johnny comes marching home.

SOURCES:

  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • Folk Songs of North America (in the English Language), Alan Lomax, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York 1960—Amazon Books

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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