SUBMITTED BY: Mike Stroupe (written by Cheri Todd Molter)
Frederick Washington Dellinger, commonly called “Wash,” was born on Oct. 28, 1834, in the Cherryville area of Gaston County [His name is also spelled “Fredrick” in some records]. Wash was the son of Frederick Lineberger and Polly Dellinger. Wash grew up in a large family. Fred and Polly had eight children: They had three daughters—Barbara Caroline, Margaret Cynthia, and Fannie—and five sons—Wash, Daniel Conrad, Jacob Riley, Peter, and Henry. Wash and his four brothers all served in the Confederate Army.
At Lincoln County, North Carolina, Wash enlisted in the Confederate Army on March 15, 1862, for a term of “three years or for the duration of the war.” (Click on image at left to enlarge.) According to his compiled military record, Wash served in Company I of the 11th Infantry, North Carolina Troops. He fought at the Battle of Gettysburg where he was wounded, then captured during his company’s retreat from Gettysburg to the Potomac. Wash was taken to the hospital at Gettysburg on July 10, 1863, then transported to the hospital at Davids’ Island, New York Harbor, a few days later. According to a story Wash told to one of his granddaughters, the best meal he had while confined at Davids’ Island was a black snake that he caught, killed, and ate. By Sept. 6, 1863, Wash had been paroled, and before the end of October, Wash was at home on furlough. He reported for duty again on Feb. 23, 1864.
Wash had only been back for a little over two months when he was wounded again: According to his medical records, he was hospitalized for the treatment of a “gunshot wound to the right breast” on May 11, 1864 at Farmville, Virginia. Wash returned to duty on Sept. 14, 1864 but was absent from his company since he had been assigned “det’d [detached duty] on light duty at Charlotte, N.C. on acct on disability from wounds.” On the next muster roll—dated Nov. – Dec. 1864—Wash was noted as absent on “det’d [detached duty]…in Charlotte, N.C. –order Gen. Lee—disability from wounds.” On Feb. 1, 1865, Wash was transferred to Company E, 34th North Carolina Infantry. This was the same company that his brothers Jacob and Henry were serving in. (Jacob enlisted in Company E, 34th N. C. Infantry, in 1861 and was present at the surrender on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Court House. Henry enlisted in Company E on March 30, 1864 at Orange Court House, Virginia, and was captured just a couple of days later, on April 2nd, at South Side Railroad, Virginia. Henry was confined at Hart Island, New York Harbor, until he was released after giving the Oath of Allegiance on June 14, 1865.)
Wash was captured again on March 18, 1865 and was confined at the Old Capitol Prison at Washington, D.C. While a prisoner there, Wash had an experience that he shared with his friends and family for years after the war was over. According to the stories that Wash told, he had some limited freedom to come and go from Old Capitol Prison, so he could work a job outside of the compound, and on April 14, 1865, he and Jonas Hoyle, a Confederate prisoner from Lincoln County, N.C., were returning to the prison after a day’s work when they were approached by a Union guardsman. The guard had two tickets for a play that evening, but was unable to attend, so he gave the tickets to Wash and Jonas. Those tickets were for a performance of the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre. According to Wash, as he and Jonas took their seats, a shot rang out, and John Wilkes Booth jumped from the front balcony. Wash said that he and Jonas were immediately alarmed: If their presence was known and someone realized that they were Confederate prisoners, then he was concerned that they might be accused of being involved with the criminal act and possibly hanged. He said that they immediately returned to the prison compound before anyone found out who they were.
After the war, Wash came back home and started a family. On May 17, 1866, he married Julia F. Hendrick in Cleveland County. Wash and Julia had seven children: Sarah Elizabeth Dellinger Royster, Zulia C. Dellinger Dellinger (she married a man named William Dellinger), Marcus J. Dellinger, Eugenia Frances Dellinger Propst, Jacob L. Dellinger, Andrew Jackson Dellinger, and Ada F. Dellinger Ham.
Julia died in 1898. Wash remarried, but not much is known about his second wife. Family stories identify the woman as Belle Saine, and it is said that she died soon after they married. Afterward, Wash married Miss Minnie Evaline Cobb sometime in 1904 (1910 Cherryville, Gaston Co., N.C. Census, accessed on July 22, 2020). According to the family’s stories, Minnie was still a teenager when she married Wash, who was already a grandfather. Despite their age difference, Wash and Minnie had about thirty years together and the couple had five children, their last being born in 1919 when Wash was almost eighty years old. They had three sons and two daughters: Charlie Frederick Dellinger, Ora Eliza Dellinger, Mary Magdalene Dellinger, Edward Woodrow Dellinger, and David Sylvester Dellinger.
Throughout his lifetime, Wash attended many Confederate veteran reunions and was known to have shared a lot of stories about his war experiences with both his family members and friends. Minnie is documented as having said that she didn’t pay much attention to most of the stories Wash told—except for the one about his being in the theater when President Abraham was shot (You can also read Minnie’s story; it’s titled “MINNIE EVALINE COBB DELLINGER: The Story of the Young Wife of a Confederate Veteran”).
Wash Dellinger died on July 10, 1932 and was buried beside his first wife, Julia, in Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery at Shelby, North Carolina.