March 16

A Song Dedicated to the Union’s Army and Navy

A Song Dedicated to the Union’s Army and Navy 1

Civil War song

The wars that depreciated the value of lives have created pain and scars in the heart of many homes and many lives.  These stories have been turned into literary pieces, that continue to bring the message of peace among nations. One of the products of the war is the song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” Th lyrics expresses the yearning by loved ones for their soldiers — their sons and husbands — to come marching home safely.It has endured now for over 150 years , and now it still shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon. Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore wrote a song during the Civil War that continues to march its way through the years.

Gilmore led a number of bands in the Boston area, including Patrick Gilmore’s Band. For the love of country, and the love of music, the band enlisted as a group in the Union Army and became attached to the 24th Massachusetts Infantry. Gilmore’s band served both as musicians and stretcher bearers at such horrific battles. Gilmore was posted to have occupied New Orleans, Louisiana in 1863. Also, he became a Grand Master of the Union Army, ordered to reorganize the state military bands. It was at this time that he claimed to have composed the words and music to “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”

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“When Johnny Comes Marching Home” bears a remarkable similarity to the melody of the Irish song “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye,” which might be considered a protest song in the vein of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” The Irish song concerns conscription into the British Army.

The song also gave rise to many a parody. The best known was the Confederate parody “For Bales.” Union soldiers sang about Generals such as Burnside, McClellan, and Mead in a parody titled “Boys of the Potomac” and northerners disgruntled by taxes, conscription and inflation sang “Johnny, Fill up the Bowl.” During the Spanish American War in 1898, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” reached new heights of popularity.

Indeed, songs become more substantial when it touches events or occurrences that marked the history. Here at Country Daily, we feature songs about marines, soldiers, farmers, commoners and all sorts of occupations. Because we know how much passion each worker has to have to be in a certain job. Keep that passion for what you are doing, and let it burn!


Civil War, Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, When Johnny Comes Marching Home

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