Like many of Bernard Cornwell's memorable secondary characters, there is very little canonical information to be had about Captain Chase, RN. He appears in two books only: Sharpe's Trafalgar and Sharpe's Prey.
Sharpe first encounters Chase in Calcutta, shortly before he is due to sail back to England to join his new regiment. The captain informs Sharpe that he is thirty-five (Sharpe's Trafalgar : Chapter 1) and later gives his birthday as 21 October (Sharpe's Trafalgar : Chapter 6), which places the year of his birth in 1769. Hailing from the Devon (As in ref |name = Trafalgar| it says that Chase spoke with a Devon accent), Chase followed in his father's footsteps by joining the Royal Navy. Given that he is a post captain at the age of thirty-five, it may be surmised that he had a moderately successful career and probably entered the service as a young adolescent, rated midshipman, in order to gain experience and the necessary time required for the lieutenant's examination.
Chase's first command was apparently a twenty-eight-gun frigate by the name of HMS Spritely, in which he captured a French frigate, Les Bouvines of thirty-two-guns, and barely missed serving under Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nile. He commands the HMS Pucelle, a seventy-four-gun (third rate) ship of the line in both Trafalgar and Prey. Chase is married to a woman named Florence, has an unspecified number of children, and owns a small farm/estate somewhere in Devonshire.
Warning: spoilers ahead
Chase is attached to the East Indian fleet, under the command of Sir Edward Pellew in Trafalgar but, having chased a French ship of the line halfway around the world in order to intercept a dangerous French politico, he finds himself under the command of Lord Nelson at Trafalgar. Needless to say, Sharpe too takes part in the battle, having been rescued by Chase after his ship was taken prize by the very third-rater that Chase was chasing.
Captain Chase makes up part of the fleet that sails to Denmark, under Admiral Gambier, to help persuade the Danish to hand over their fleet for "protection" in 1807. While in Copenhagen he meets Sharpe again and gives Sharpe men to help him track down and kill John Lavisser among other things.
Personality and GeneralEdit
Chase seems to represent the very best of the Royal Navy: he is good-natured, enthusiastic, seamanlike, possesses easy authority, and is readily accepting of Sharpe, despite Sharpe's humble origins. He is a devoted husband though he does have a weakness for gambling and has to pay off quite a large debt to Lord William Hale at the beginning of Trafalgar (Sharpe's Trafalgar : Chapter 1). Though he has moments of fractiousness or mild irritation, he seems to get over them quickly and is generally polite and in good humor.
He is clearly loved by his men, as attested to by one of his midshipmen, Harry Collier and his bosun John Hopper (Sharpe's Trafalgar : Chapter 6). Chase is not a supporter of harsh discipline and dislikes flogging, though he does employ it when necessary and he is apt to reward his men generously, once giving oarsmen a double tot of rum after a stiff bout of towing in becalmed waters.(Sharpe's Trafalgar : Chapter 7)
Cornwell describes Chase as tall, fair-haired, and handsome. Particularly distinguishing features are his warm and broad Devonshire accent and his long legs.
- Chase was taught French as a child, though he apparently did not enjoy the lessons overmuch, telling Sharpe that he wished he could "flog it out of hi[s tutor now]."(Sharpe's Trafalgar : Chapter 1)
- He deliberately disobeyed an order to stay on his ship given by Admiral Gambier in order to sneak into Copenhagen with Sharpe and his men.
- Chase claims that marriage settled him down and that he had been a "dog" prior to meeting his wife (Sharpe's Trafalgar : Chapter 6)
Readers of both the Sharpe series and the Aubreyad by Patrick O'Brien have noticed similarities between Captain Chase and O'Brien's hero Jack Aubrey. Cornwell, however, did not write the character to be an intentional tribute to the earlier character