John Chase

John Chase, 5th Maine Artillery. William Oland Bourne Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Born in Chelsea, Maine, to Oliver and Rachel Chase, John F. Chase (1843–1914) enlisted as a private in Company B of the 3rd Maine Infantry in early June of 1861. Transferred to the 5th Maine Artillery in November 1861, Chase’s first claim to fame occurred at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863. With the rest of his battery either dead or wounded, Chase continued to fire his cannon under a sustained barrage by the forces of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. For his “extraordinary heroism” Chase was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1888. On July 3, 1863, while defending Cemetery Hill at the Battle of Gettysburg, a shell exploded near Chase. He lost his right arm and left eye. Overall, he sustained forty-eight shrapnel wounds. Unconscious and presumed dead, Chase remained on the battlefield for two days before his body was removed. Transferred to a field hospital when an orderly became aware he was still alive, Chase received no medical attention for an additional three days as the attending doctors assumed he had no chance for survival.  Miraculously escaping death, John Chase was discharged from the U.S. Army on medical disability on November 25, 1863.  Returning to Maine, he married Maria Merrill and fathered six children. Constantly inventing new devices, he submitted approximately forty-seven patent applications during his lifetime. In 1895, Chase moved with his family to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he was active in real estate development.

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