The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home'


Verse 1: 'When Johnny comes marching home again, hurrah! hurrah! / We'll give home a cheery welcome then hurrah hurrah; / The men will cheer the boys will shout, the ladies they will all turn out, / We'll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.' This broadside carries no publication details.

'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' was written by Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore (1829-92). Gilmore was born in Ballygar, County Galway in Ireland. Apparently inspired by a British military band he had seen as a child, Gilmore learned how to play the trumpet and moved to Boston in the US, where his musical talents became renowned. 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home', about a soldier returning from war, was inspired by the Battle of Gettysburg, in July 1863, when the tide of the American Civil War began to turn in favour of the Union. The song was hugely popular and is still often heard today.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

previous pageprevious          
Probable period of publication: 1865-1880   shelfmark: RB.m.169(220)
Broadside ballad entitled 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland