Portrait of Robert C. Schenck

President Abraham Lincoln commissioned Robert Schenck as a brigadier general in the volunteer army on June 5, 1861, (to rank from May 17), despite the fact that Schenck had no prior military experience. [Wikimedia Commons]

Robert Cumming Schenck - Facts

October 4, 1809 - March 23, 1890

Key facts about Robert Cumming Schenck, an eight-time United States Congressman from Ohio and a major general in the Union army during the American Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • Robert Cumming Schenck

Birth Date:

  • October 4, 1809

Birth Location:

  • Warren County, Ohio

Parents:

  • William Cortenius Schenck and Elizabeth (Rogers) Schenck

Education:

  • Miami University (1827) (1830)

Occupation:

  • Lawyer

Career Summary:

  • U.S. Congresman
  • Minister to Brazil
  • Major General (USVA)
  • Minister to England

Spouse:

  • Renelsche W. Smith (1834)

Nickname(s):

  • Poker Bob

Place of Death:

  • Washington, D.C.

Date of Death:

  • March 23, 1890

Place of Burial:

  • Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio

Significance:

  • Robert Schenck’s father was a surveyor, land speculator, and prominent early Ohio settler.
  • Robert Schenck’s father was a general in the War of 1812.
  • Robert Schenck’s father founded the town of Franklin, Ohio.
  • Schenck’s father died .when Robert was only twelve and the boy was placed under the guardianship of General James Findlay.
  • Robert Schenck received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in 1827, and a Master of Arts Degree in 1830.
  • Robert Schenck studied law under future Ohio Governor Thomas Corwin and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1831.
  • Robert Schenck and Joseph Halsey Crane founded the law firm of Crane and Schenck and were prominent attorneys in Dayton, Ohio.
  • Robert Schenck married Renelsche W. Smith at Nissequogue, Long Island, New York, on August 21, 1834. The marriage produced six girls, three of whom survived to adulthood.
  • Robert Schenck ran unsuccessfully for the Ohio General Assembly in 1838.
  • Robert Schenck was elected to the Ohio General Assembly in 1841 as a member of the Whig Party.
  • Between 1842 and 1850 voters of Ohio’s third congressional district elected Robert Schenck to represent them in the twenty-eighth through thirty-first U.S. Congresses (1843–1851).
  • During his first tenure in Congress, Robert Schenck played an active role in repealing the “gag rule” that prevented antislavery petitions from being read on the floor of the House.
  • During his first tenure in Congress, Robert Schenck opposed the Mexican-American War as a war of aggression to extend slavery in the United States.
  • President Millard Fillmore appointed Robert Schenck as Minister to Brazil in March 1851.
  • Robert Schenck was an early and avid supporter of Abraham Lincoln’s presidential candidacy.
  • President Abraham Lincoln commissioned Robert Schenck as a brigadier general in the volunteer army on June 5, 1861, (to rank from May 17), despite the fact that Schenck had no prior military experience.
  • Robert Schenck took part in the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861), the Battle of Cross Keys (June 8, 1862), and the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28, 1862–August 30, 1862).
  • During the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28, 1862–August 30, 1862), Robert Schenck was severely wounded by three bullets, permanently disabling his right arm and hand.
  • Robert Schenck was promoted to the rank of major general on September 18, 1862 (to rank from August 30, 1862).
  • Robert Schenck was assigned to the command of the 8th Army Corps and the Middle Department of the Army with headquarters at Baltimore on December 22, 1862.
  • Robert Schenck defeated incumbent Peace Democrat Clement Vallandigham, for a seat representing Ohio’s third congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1862 mid-term election.
  • Robert Schenck resigned his commission in the army on December 5, 1862, to assume his seat in Congress.
  • Robert Schenck sat in the thirty-eighth through forty-first congresses from 1863 through 1871.
  • Robert Schenck served as chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs (Thirty-eighth and Thirty-ninth Congresses), and Committee on Ways and Means (Fortieth and Forty-first Congresses).
  • On issues regarding Reconstruction, Robert Schenck sided with the radical elements of the Republican Party.
  • In November 1870, Robert Schenck lost his bid for reelection to Democrat Lewis D. Campbell.
  • In December 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Robert Schenck as Minister to England.
  • Robert Schenck introduced the British aristocracy to the game of draw poker.
  • Following a scandal over his endorsement of an American silver mine, Robert Schenck resigned his ambassadorship in 1875.
  • Robert Schenck died of pneumonia on March 23, 1890, at his residence on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Robert Cumming Schenck - Facts
  • Coverage October 4, 1809 - March 23, 1890
  • Author
  • Keywords Robert Cumming Schenck
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date August 3, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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