When Johnny Comes Marching Home: Ephraim’s Civil War Stories by Emily Irwin

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When Johnny Comes Marching Home tells the stories of eight Civil War soldiers with connections to Ephraim.  Some enlisted from Ephraim or the surrounding area, and others came here later in life.  Though each of the eight has a unique story, there are shared experiences in their lives.  All eight men enlisted voluntarily, and seven of the eight joined in the same year, 1862.  Four of the eight joined the same company and regiment, Company F of the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  Seven of the eight were immigrants, six from Norway and one from Germany.  And three of the eight did not survive the Civil War.  This booklet tells their stories.

The title of this booklet references a popular Civil War song, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”  First published in 1863, the lyrics express longing for a soldier’s return home.  In Ephraim, this longing was keenly felt as fathers and sons went off to the war.  The home front experience, and Ephraim during the Civil War, is also explored.

Through census records, letters, and other primary source information, this exhibit traces the lives and experiences of these eight soldiers, from their lives before the Civil War, through enlistment and combat, to the end of the conflict.  There is little information on some of the men, and in some cases, no known photographs.  Their connection to Ephraim, however, remains strong, and as research continues, we may someday be able to put faces to these names.

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