Dawes gradually became an important leader in the famous Iron Brigade and was able to use his journal to provide detailed accounts of battles at South Mountain, Antietam, Second Bull Run and, in July 1863, Gettysburg.
“Corporal James Kelley of Company B shot through the heart and mortally wounded,” Dawes wrote. “Asked (me) to tell his folks he died a soldier.”
He also recorded his feelings and moods, included details about daily camp life and individual soldiers and kept a tally of the dead and wounded. In all, about 12,000 of the 91,000 men from Wisconsin who served in the Civil War died or were reported missing in action.
The COVID-19 pandemic in Wisconsin isn’t as violent or deadly as the Civil War, but the journal project is hoping to gather as much detail as possible.
Entries on this day, for example, could include stories of limited family gatherings, public Easter eggs hunts that are nowhere to be found and Easter services streamed over the internet instead of in front of those who normally pack church pews. Even a hike in a state park in southern and southeastern Wisconsin is off the table after Gov. Tony Evers closed 40 parks and state natural areas last week due to large crowds, litter and vandalism.
In the days and weeks to come, the citizen journalists will likely write of missed birthday gatherings, graduations and weddings. There will be stories of canceled youth sporting events, school theater performances and concerts along with scuttled family vacations and unused tickets for Milwaukee Brewers baseball games at Miller Park.