m a r k e r i c k s o n p a i n t i n g s Ernest Julius Erickson's September 1918 Diary entries 361st Regiment - American Expeditionary Force The Meuse - Argonne Offensive - Western Front - France From the Dakotas to Oregon to the Argonne Forest - France
This is an important post of Ernest Julius's last written communication. He wrote in a handful of diaries over the years and this one would be his last. His life suddenly cut short by a sniper's bullet on October 10th, 1918 in the Argonne Forest in France.
Ernest Julius words were written to someone and for who we will never know, yet just as many write their thoughts in journals, these words may have been written for no one to ever read. The words go silent and exist as so many, silent and unread, eventually placed in a cigar box or wrapped in paper to live on the top shelf of a closet. It is those things that often are unearthed, if one is fortunate and given life, as I am trying to do with everything being shown here.
Ernest Julius's diaries fell in the hands of his younger brother Frank, my grandfather and from there years later into his son's hands, my father Ernest Anders who was named after his uncle Ernest Julius. It was my father who made me aware of Ernest Julius and his photographs and diaries.
These words and the other diaries posted on this site will give you a glimmer of who Ernest Julius was, a man my father and I wish we had the opportunity to know. But it is in these words and photographs of him from a young boy to the soldier who ended up scurrying around the battlefields of France in 1918 that brings him to eternal life.
We are fortunate in that, to say we know him, far better than we would have if all this
was lost to time and memory. I dedicate most of the work here on the site and the
images and writing to my uncle Ernest Julius Alfred Erickson, the man that my father
first called, "The Man From Painted Woods."
Ernest Julius Erickson's "Oregon Diary”
Ernest Julius Erickson's "Deer Hunt Diary"
Thanks to my cousin Mark Henninger (grandson of Ernest Julius's brother Andy Anders Erickson)
of Bismarck, North Dakota for the transcription of the diary that he completed in November of 2016.
Also appreciation for the use of his photograph. Ernest Julius Alfred Erickson (photograph of his headstone
below) is buried at Riverview.
The final image below is of my grandfather Pvt. Frank Gustaf Severin Erickson (standing 8th to the left of the US flag) who was with the 308th Infantry- 77th Division - Company H serving in France in 1918. He was a fortunate surviving member of the famed "Lost Battalion." Frank along with less than 200 men escaped out of the ferocious fighting in the Argonne on October 8th, 1918. Frank stands at the commemoration ceremony of the Riverview World War I Memorial located along the Missouri River not far from Wilton, North Dakota. Frank's brother in-law, my uncle Ensign Sture Albin Nelson (front row - holding the US flag) is also in the photograph. Sture served in the Navy during the war.
Below the image are the transcriptions of “The Forest of Argonne Diary”
© Mark Erickson 2017 All rights reserved.
This copyrighted material may not be republished without permission.
Contact via Email @ Mark Erickson or visit his website @
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Riverview World War I Memorial - Wilton, North Dakota
My uncle Pvt. Ernest Julius Erickson wrote in his diary starting in September 26th and continued on till October 8th, 1918. That day would be his final entry. Ernest Julius was with the 361st Infantry of the 91st Division and was serving in Company C. Ernest had been in the intelligence section of the First Battalion through both Argonne Offensives in September and October of 1918. He had also been a scout, sniper, observer and runner.
Ernest Julius Erickson found himself along with his regiment in the midst of the Battle of the Argonne Forest, in what would be referred to as The Meuse - Argonne Offensive located on the Western Front in France. It was fought from September 26th 1918, until the Armistice on the the 11th of November, 1918, a total of 47 days. The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest in United States military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers, and was one of a series of Allied attacks known as the Hundred Days Offensive, which brought an end to the war. The battle cost 28,000 German lives and 26,277 American lives, making it the largest and bloodiest operation of World War I for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), which was commanded by General John J. Pershing.
Ernest Julius wrote these words in dangerous situations, yet having an unique sense of humor in these dire circumstances. I can only imagine what it was like to be stuck down in a cold muddy exposed trench, writing these thoughts as battles raged, sniper fire sounding and German artillery soaring overhead and ofttimes exploding far too close for comfort. He begins his writing one morning on the 26th of September of 1918.
Unfortunately for my uncle, Ernest Julius was shot and killed by a sniper on October 10th, 1918 while in action in the Argonne Forest during the Meuse Argonne Offensive.
Ernest Julius along with another soldier of Company C, Pvt. Jesse A. Keene had been given orders to deliver a message to the commander of Company B of the 362nd Infantry.
They were well underway when they came under attack by snipers. Both men attempted to run for cover when Ernest Julius was shot. Pvt. Keene witnessed his partner getting hit and laying motionless for 5 minutes on the ground out in the open.
Pvt. Keene then withdrew and headed back to safety, giving his report of the incident to the Company commander. At some point later Ernest Julius's body was retrieved and over time brought back home to Dakota.
Pvt. Jesse A. Keene's Report on Pvt. Ernest Julius Erickson
Found on Ernest's body was his blood stained diary which he wrote in regularly and his last entry ended abruptly. He had began a new sentence, very likely written that morning and Ernest had just written the letter ”s,” when the writing ended there, forever silent.
I own three of Ernest's diaries and they have helped enlighten me on my uncle's life, opened up more who he was and what he may have become if he had made it back to Dakota.
Over the years I have thought of Ernest Julius and like my father, we both have been affected by this man's life. His stories were fascinating and in-between the lines even more compelling. For it is for eternity, one of those what ifs, what if he had kept writing. He was a true spirit living on in his words and the rest is for us to imagine. I will continue to find out as much as I can about him. Ernest Julius' life was cut short with all the promise of any young man.
My father, Ernest Anders Erickson was named after his uncle Ernest Julius and carried with him his memory from stories he was told by his father Frank, his grandmother Christine, uncles Andy, Helmer & Al Erickson and aunts Vera And Abbie (Lincoln) Erickson. In time my father inherited Ernest Julius’ archives, which included this diary. He became interested in his uncle he called,”The Man From Painted Woods."
It is time for his final words that he wrote on the battlefield in France in 1918 to be seen. It enables family and friends that are interested, to read and look through my two uncles and grandfather's archives and photographs.
Frank Gustaf Severin Erickson
Andy Anders Sebran Filimon Erickson
Ernest Julius Alfred Erickson
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