Member Biography

Robert Porter Dechert 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1871       1 Democrat
1872       1 Democrat

COUNTIES: Philadelphia  


08/16/1842 - 05/12/1894

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Porter Dechert (D1) Philadelphia (Part) County 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; died, May 12, 1894 (aged 51) Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; Interment Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania  

Early Career:

Union Army Officer, Civil War, 1862-1865; enlisted, 29th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, saw action Battle of Cedar Mountain, First Bull Run; provost, rear guard at Antietam; Fredericksburg; Mud March, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, 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, Carolina’s 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.; Sergeant, Cornet, Commander, Philadelphia City Troop, 1878; Brigadier General, command, First Brigade, 1890.  

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

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

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, 1868-1871.  

Elected, Democrat, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1st district, Philadelphia (Part) County, 1871-1872; committee assignments, Estates and Escheats, Federal Relations, Military Affairs. 

Elected, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, 1874, 1880.

Elected, Philadelphia City Controller, 1884-1891.


Cox, Harold. "Senate Members D"Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University.

Smull’s Legislative Handbook, (1872). Smull, J.A., (Editor) Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pages 500, 503, 506-508.

Robert Dechert Family Papers (

Maj Robert Porter Dechert (1842-1894) - Find a Grave Memorial