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

Andrew Anderson

The 2017 Anderson Barn Museum exhibit 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.  The exhibit will focus on Andrew Anderson, Goodlet Goodletson, Michael Kalmbach, Christian “Charley” Morbeck, Carl Nelson, Tallack Tallackson, Torger Torgersen, and Henry Sherman Vail.

Though each of the eight soldiers 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.

Henry Sherman Vail
Henry Sherman Vail

The title of this exhibit 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 in this exhibit.

Through census records, letters, and other primary sources, this exhibit traces the lives and experiences of these eight soldiers.  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.

Visitors to the Anderson Barn Museum will be given a card with the name and basic information of one of the soldiers.  Upon entering the exhibit, the soldier’s life will be traced through early life, enlistment, service, and the end of the Civil War.  Visitors can choose to follow only the soldier named on their card, or they can follow the stories of all eight men.

When Johnny Comes Marching Home: Ephraim’s Civil War Stories opens Friday, June 16, in the Anderson Barn Museum, and will be on display until Saturday, October 14.  Click here to learn more about museum hours and admission.

-Guest Blogger Emily Irwin

4 thoughts on “When Johnny Comes Marching Home: Ephraim’s Civil War Stories”

  1. I love your blog Emily. I DO have a clipping from a paper to my mother from a mrs Vena Clemenson Verheyden, whose mother was Andrew Anderson’s sister. I must bring it to you. It was written in 1981. Very interesting facts.
    Karen Ekberg

  2. My great-grandparents immigrated to and thrived in Ephraim and Marinette. I regret I cannot come from San Francisco to see this exhibit featuring my distant cousin, Andrew Anderson. How sad to think his family would kiss him good-bye in 1862 and never see him again. Too many wars. Too many young men. Gone.

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