"When Johnny Comes Marching Home" was written by Patrick S. Gilmore under the pseudonym Louis Lambert. Gilmore was bandmaster of the Ben Butler's Union Army of occupation in New Orleans at the time. There is some controversy as to whether he actually compsed the melody, as he was heard on several occasions to claim that it was a Negro spiritual he had simply adapted, whereas others contend that it was an traditional Irish air. No Irish air with that melody has ever come to light, however, so that theory may be just wishful thinking on the part of the Irish.

Gilmore himself was born in Ballygar in Galway County, Ireland, on December 25, 1829, and early on displayed an obvious musical aptitude. His family emigrated to America in the 1840's just one step ahead of the famine. He was bandmaster for the U.S. Army when the War broke out and remained loyal to the Union. In the postwar era, he was responsible for organizing "Monster Peace Jubilees" involving orchestras of a thousand musicians and over 10,000 voices.

"When Johnny Comes Marching Home" is Gilmore's sole claim to lasting musical fame.

"When Johnny Comes Marching Home"

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Last modified 16-April-2001