Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye

DESCRIPTION: The girl meets her Johnny returned from the wars. She can barely recognize him; he has lost arms, legs, and eyes. She tells him "With your drums and guns and guns and drum, the enemy nearly slew ye... O, Johnny, I hardly knew ye."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1886 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 b.10(218))
KEYWORDS: soldier disability injury war
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (11 citations):
Grigson-PenguinBookOfBallads 94, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" (1 text)
Scott-TheBalladOfAmerica, pp. 329-330, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew You" (1 text, tune referenced)
Hodgart-FaberBookOfBallads, p. 212, "Johnny, I hardly knew ye" (1 text)
O'Conor-OldTimeSongsAndBalladOfIreland, pp. 92-93, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" (1 text)
Darling-NewAmericanSongster, pp. 388-389, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" (1 text)
Behan-IrelandSings, #35, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Yeh" (1 text, 1 tune, modified)
Dallas-TheCruelWars-100SoldiersSongs, pp. 109-111, "Johnny I Hardly Knew You" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, #1142, p. 78, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" (1 reference)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, pp. 278-279, "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), pp. 271-274, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" (1 text plus excerpts from 3 parodies)
Charles Sullivan, ed., Ireland in Poetry, p. 90, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye (1 text)

Roud #3137
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, "Johnny I Hardly Knew You" (on IRClancyMakem02)
Bodleian, 2806 b.10(218), "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" ("While going the road to sweet Athy"), H. Such (London), 1863-1885; also 2806 c.8(265), Firth c.26(233), "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye"; Harding B 26(297), 2806 b.9(118)[some illegible words],"Johney I hardly knew ye"[inconsistent spelling throughout]
cf. "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (tune) and references there
cf. "The Wars of America" (plot)
NOTES [130 words]: Scholars continue to argue whether "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" or the cheerful "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" is the original. "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," by Patrick S. Gilmore, can be firmly dated to the beginning of the Civil War, while "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" does not appear until slightly later (reportedly 1869, though the earliest date I've been able to verify is 1885).
There is also a very early print, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye," beginning "When on the road to Switarthy, ahoo! ahoo!," for which see Edwin Wolf 2nd, American Song Sheets, Slip Ballads, and Political Broadsides 1850-1870, Library Company of Philadelphia, 1963, p. 78. The date for this does not appear to be known.
For further details, see the entry on "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: PBB094

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.