York Town Square

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Sons of Union vets seeking relatives of Civil War soldier from U.S. Colored Troops, 32nd Regiment

Two aging Civil War veterans flank a Lincoln impersonator in this photo from York County Heritage Trust files. The black veteran is thought to be John Aquilla Wilson, who enlisted in the United States Colored Troops, 32nd Regiment in 1864. Background posts: ‘One of the shells found its mark’ and Black soldiers from York County served in ‘Glory’ unit – Part I and ‘Glory,’ Part II.

Will descendants of Civil War vet John Aquilla Wilson please make yourself known?
That is the request from sponsors of a public rededication ceremony of four Civil War cannons at 2 p.m. Saturday at Hanover Junction.
According to my “East of Gettysburg,” “Quil” Wilson lived in the New Park area of southeastern York County where he died at the age of 101 in 1942. He was buried in the Fawn AME Cemetery.
He enlisted as a 15-year-old in the 32nd Regiment, Volunteer Infantry, a black unit and became of scores of black soldiers from York County to serve in Northern forces.
Bob Rudy of event sponsor The Sons of Union Veteran of the Civil War (SUVCW) , Camp 33 (York), asked relatives to contact him at bob@bobrudy.com.
The big guns might have a familiar look to connoisseurs of cannons… .

“These cannon were originally placed at Penn Park in York, but as a result of years of vandalism and abuse, we had new granite bases made and placed the cannon at Hanover Junction in York County,” the camp’s Web site states.
The camp should be applauded for keeping these artifacts in public view.
Still, there’s a sad irony in their removal from Penn Park.
The park was a point where wagons of former slaves stopped in York, as their first major port of freedom north of the Mason-Dixon Line. And the park also housed a Civil War military hospital where some soldiers healed and others died after fighting to free the slaves.
Indeed, the park is home to the Dempwolf-designed Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the most prominent nod to the Civil War in the downtown York area.
Abraham Lincoln, who passed through Hanover Junction, on his way to and from Gettysburg to deliver his famous speech probably would have agreed that the park was an appropriate permanent site for the guns.
Quil Wilson probably would have seconded that motion.