Member Biography

Robert Porter Dechert 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1871       1 Democrat
1872       1 Democrat

COUNTIES: Philadelphia  


08/16/1842 - 05/12/1894

Brigadier General Robert Porter Dechert (D1) Philadelphia, 1871-1872

Early Life: 

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Porter Dechert, born Reading, Berks County August 16, 1842, son of Elijah and Mary Williams Porter Dechert; Saunders Academy, Philadelphia; Central High School, Philadelphia,1861; Union Army Officer, Civil War, 1862-1865; admitted Philadelphia bar, lawyer, 1866; elected, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, 1868-1871; elected, Democrat, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1871-1872; elected, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, 1874, 1880; Philadelphia City Controller, 1884-1891; bachelor; (i) died, May 12, 1894 (aged 51) Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; Interment Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania (ii)

Early Career:

Union Army Officer, Civil War, 1862-1865; enlisted, 29th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, saw action Battle of Cedar Mountain, First Bull Run; served as provost and rear guard at Antietam; Fredericksburg; Mud March, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, where he served as Acting Assistant Adjunct  General, First Division, 12th Army Corps.

Participated, reopening, Tennessee River; Battle of Wauhatchie; Chattanooga; Lookout Mountain; Missionary Ridge; Ringgold Gap; and Taylor’s Ridge; re-enlisted, December 10, 1863; promoted, captain, February 23, 1864; battle action, Atlanta campaign, Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, siege and occupation of Atlanta; participated in Union General William T. Sherman’s march to the sea, Carolinas campaign during which promoted,  major.

Present, as General Joseph Eggleston Johnston surrendered the Army of Tennessee and all remaining Confederate forces still active in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. It was the largest surrender of the war, totaling 89,270 soldiers at Bennett Place near present-day Durham, North Carolina; awarded brevet promotion, for "gallant and meritorious services during the war". Lieutenant Colonel; mustered out on July 11, 1865.

Joined, Gray Reserves, (Pennsylvania National Guard) Captain, Company, F.; served as Sergeant, Cornet, Commander, Philadelphia City Troop, 1878; Brigadier General, command, First Brigade, 1890. (i)

Professional titles; business ownership; board memberships; local government; club memberships:

Original member, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, number #000073. (ii)

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, 1868-1871.  

Elected, Democrat, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1st district, Philadelphia, 1871-1872; member, Estates and Escheats, Federal Relations and Military Affairs Committees.

Elected Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, 1874 and 1880.

Elected, Philadelphia City Controller, 1884-1891.


Smull’s Legislative Hand Book, (1872) Smull, J.A., pages 500, 503 and 506-508.