Private John Wesley B. Cole was born on February 9, 1837, to Mr. Benjamin and Mary (Myers) Cole. He may have been enslaved at birth or part of a community of free Blacks near New Windsor. He was certainly free by the time he enlisted in August 1863 in Maryland.
Private Cole joined the 4th US Colored Infantry, which was primarily organized in Baltimore. He was wounded several times during the war, including a bayonet wound, two different wounds from shell fragments, and a bullet wound. As part of the 4th US Colored Infantry, he was in the Battle of Petersburg and the Dutch Gap.
Following the war, in 1865, Private Cole returned to Carroll County. He settled in Westminster, working on the local farms. He married Ms. Charlotte Foote on January 23, 1868. They had at least three daughters, Mary, Sarah, and Laura.
Private John Cole died on March 3, 1921, in Westminster. His wife and daughter, Mrs. Mary (Cole) Frisby, are also buried in Ellsworth.