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Civil War Music: When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again

Patrick Gilmore (1829-1892)
A sketch of three Civil War soldiers

Patrick Gilmore was a famous bandleader before the war. He served during wartime as bandmaster for the 22nd New York Regiment. Gilmore wrote this song under the name Louis Lambert. The melody was similar to several well known Irish folk songs.

Cover of sheet music for "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" words and music by “Louis Lambert” (Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore), Boston: Henry Tolman & Co., 1863
Cover of sheet music for "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" words and music by “Louis Lambert” (Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore), Boston: Henry Tolman & Co., 1863. Wikimedia Commons

The song appealed to families on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line by offering hope that their sons and brothers and fathers would return safely from the combat.
 

 

The lyrics are:

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

Let love and friendship on that day, Hurrah, Hurrah,
Their choicest treasures then display, Hurrah, Hurrah,
And let each one perform some part,
To fill with joy the warrior’s heart,
And we’ll all feel gay,
When Johnny comes marching home.