Veterans Memorial Park

Major William Chase and Pensacola

  • February 2, 2015
  • /   Emmalee Sutton
  • /   Post Tags
 Major William Chase may have played a small role in the Civil War overall, but in the time leading up to the war, he made a significant impact on Pensacola’s economy. Chase graduated from West Point in 1815 as a member of the Corps of Engineers. In 1818 he was assigned to begin construction on new defenses for ports along the Gulf of Mexico, and in 1828 he was transferred to oversee the construction of forts in Pensacola.

Chase was dedicated to developing Pensacola as a town ready for defense. The local economy boomed with his creation of new industries, including brick kilns and dredging plants. Bricks from Pensacola’s yards were exported for a variety of construction projects in and around the Pensacola area, including the four major forts. Chase also managed to get heavy federal funding to dredge the waterway for warships of all shapes and sizes.

In 1838, Chase was promoted from Chief Engineer of Gulf coastal operations to Major. As commander of the Florida contingent of Southern troops, Chase was authorized by Florida Governor, Madison S. Perry, to seize all federal forts in Pensacola. This was a task that Chase attempted to execute in peace. On January 15, 1861, Chase made a request to Lieutenant Slemmer for the surrender of Union forces at Fort Pickens, stating that he wished for a peaceful agreement in avoidance of bloodshed. Slemmer firmly declined and the Union controlled Fort Pickens until the end of the war. 

Major Chase is remembered for his war efforts as well as his role as a major contributor to the blossoming of the Pensacola economy. He served the Confederacy until his death in 1870. His home was located on the corner of Palafox and Wright Streets, a location that is now home to Episcopal Day School. 

Veterans Memorial Park