The Ballad of Johnny Getchergun

Jacob Dowen

Listen real closely, folks, and I’ll tell you the one

About the man the soldiers call Johnny Getchergun.

Now, Johnny was a-born to some homesteadin’ folk,

Raised in a cabin built of maple, birch, and oak.

Life in the mountains was always full of danger.

Wolves and mountain lions would never be a stranger.

When the critters were a-prowlin, out his pa would run

And yell back to his firstborn, “Johnny Getchergun!”


They say that he was born with a bullet in his hand

And that he could hold a rifle ‘fore he could even stand.

From the time he started shootin’, he never missed a mark.

He could even hit a squirrel from a mile in the dark!

Well, times were getting tough in the valley down below,

And the people took to thievin’ ‘stead a-lettin’ veggies grow,

When the thieves came up the mountain, out his pa would run

And yell back to his firstborn, “Johnny Getchergun!”


As Johnny grew older, he became a strong young man

And he found himself a sweetheart by the name of Mary-Ann.

He never went to school, but you don’t need to be smart

When a bullet’s in your rifle and the Lord is in your heart.

He built himself a house, and he wedded him a wife,

Put the shootin’ days behind him and took up a quiet life.

But one day the army came to town, marching one-by-one,

The sergeant knocked upon his door: “Johnny Getchergun!”


Mary-Ann started cryin’, sayin’ “Johnny please don’t go!

The war is off in Europe, in a place you needn’t know.

Please tell me you’ll stay with me, leave your rifle on the wall.

Keep your shootin’ days behind you, disregard the army’s call!”

Johnny said, “My country needs me, and though I still love you,

I love this country just as much.” And out the door he flew.

They put a helmet on his head and sent him toward the Hun.

And when the army mustered, they said “Johnny Getchergun!”


Now, a life out in the trenches ain’t a thing like in the mountains.

The cannons were a-roarin’, blowin’ dust up like a fountain.

They were shootin’ in the day and they were shootin’ in the night,

Not an hour would go by, not without some kind of fight.

But Johnny never wavered, no, he kept his wits about,

And he had his weapon ready for each commander’s shout.

And many a German knew that his life would soon be done

When a trigger was a-pulled by Johnny Getchergun.


Well, the weeks went on, and Johnny started wearing pretty thin.

The great fatigue of world war was starting to set in,

But “tired” don’t mean nothin’ when there’s battles to be fought,

And Johnny, even so, never missed a single shot.

But his eye was on his target, and the noise could wake the dead.

He didn’t know a German bomb was fallin’ overhead.

By the time that Johnny looked up, there was nowhere he could run,

And that, folks, was the end, of Johnny Getchergun.


His comrades couldn’t dig him out; they didn’t take the trouble,

And so the army left him there, buried in the rubble.

But if you find that battlefield, that blackened, bloody land,

You might see an old soldier with a rifle in his hand.

On moonless nights, a shot rings out, and woe to those who hear it,

For they might find a bullet hole has pierced their very spirit.

No, Johnny never misses, he’ll never be outdone

So heed my tale, beware the ghost of Johnny Getchergun.


Jacob Dowen started writing at age eleven, and has carried his creative passion throughout his life. His writing covers multiple genres and formats, from fantasy novels to horror flash fiction to nature poetry. Jacob is a member of the Salem Writers’ Bloc and the New Albanian Writers’ Group.

Jacob lives in Salem, Indiana, and works at Amazon Fulfillment in Jeffersonville, Indiana.



This reminds me of the old western ballads that were popular for years. Marty Robbins would have loved to sing this. I enjoyed it.

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