When Johnny Comes Marching Home

DESCRIPTION: The singer promises that Johnny will receive a hearty welcome when he returns home from the war. Everyone will turn out; all will be gay; the old church bell will ring; there will be shouting and flowers; they will wreathe his brow with laurel
AUTHOR: Words: "Louis Lambert" (Patrick S. Gilmore)
EARLIEST DATE: 1863 (sheet music published by Henry Tolman & Co, Boston)
KEYWORDS: home war return reunion nonballad
REFERENCES (15 citations):
RJackson-19CPop, pp. 233-236, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Scott-BoA, pp. 327-329, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-CivWarFull, pp. 211-213, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-CivWarAbbr, p. 94, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lawrence, p. 397, "When Johnny Come Marching Home" (1 text, a copy of a Johnson broadside)
Lomax-FSNA 51, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #2574, p. 174, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (14 references)
Arnett, p. 130, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hill-CivWar, p. 204, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 282, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (1 text)
Thomas-Makin', p. 54, (no title) (1 text, mostly "Johnny Fill Up the Bowl (In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-One)" but with this chorus)
Fireside, p. 196, "When Johnny Comes Matching Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Messerli, pp. 142-143, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 639-641, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home"

ST RJ19233 (Full)
Roud #6673
Harry Evans, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (Emerson 7373, 1918)
Pete Seeger & Bill McAdoo, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (on PeteSeeger28)
Frank C. Stanley, "When Johnnie Comes Marching Home" (CYL: Edison 5003, c. 1898)

NLScotland, R.B.m169(220), "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," unknown, n.d.
cf. "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" (tune)
cf. "Johnny Fill Up the Bowl (In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-One)" (tune)
cf. "Snapoo" (tune)
cf. "Mademoiselle from Armentieres" (approximate tune)
Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye (File: PBB094)
Johnny Fill Up the Bowl (In Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-One) (File: R227)
Snapoo (File: EM379)
The Donkey's Song (File: Wels061)
The Widow-Maker Soon Must Cave [Anti-Lincoln campaign song of 1864] (James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, p. 790)
Their Trophies ("The veteran troops at old Yorktown") (WolfAmericanSongSheets p. 156)
When Abe Comes Marchig Home ("When 'Abe' comes marching home again") (WolfAmericanSongSheets, p. 174)
When the Boys Come Marching Home ("The veteran troops are coming home," by A. Anderson) (WolfAmericanSongSheets, p. 175)
White Stars! ("Of the Second Division my rhymes do sing"; the reference is to the 2nd Division, XII Corps, and the 109th Pennsylvania, commanded by Capt. F. Louis Gimber at Gettysburg and after it transferred to the west) (WolfAmericanSongSheets, p. 177; Bodleian, Harding B 31(100))
Out of the Freshman Year ("Examination's passed once more, Hurrah! hurrah!") (Henry Randall Waite, _Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges_ first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, p. 119)
NOTES [309 words]: 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).
If I were to make a guess, I think I would put "Johnny Fill Up the Bowl" first; it's a logical tune for Gillmore to steal (and some anonymous Irishman to turn into an anti-war song). But what do I know?
Jonathan Lighter seems to concur. His study of the song supports the 1868/1869 date for "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye," which he credits to Geoghegan. And he notes a songster, New and Popular Songs: A Collection of the Most Popular Songs of the Day.... (Philadelphia: Simpson & Co., 1864), which has an expanded version of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," which includes the following stanza among others: "Johnny, he got shot in the leg, Hurrah! Hurrah! Now he goes on a wooden peg, Hurrah! Hurrah! He lost his eyes, he lost his nose, He [sic] bit off his ears, and lost all his toes." He observes that this could easily inspire "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye."
What is certain that the song became very popular quickly. WolfAmericanSongSheets, p. 174, lists 14 Civil War-era broadsides, and several other songs adopt the tune, implying that it was widely known. (Although one parody, "When the Boys Come Marching Home," lists the tune as "Johnny Fill Up the Bowl").
This is, without question, Patrick Gilmore's "hit," although in 1854 he published a mildly popular piece, "Sad News from Home for Me" (Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 100). - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
File: RJ19233

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