Edward C. Coker


In the fall of 1837, Second Lieutenant William Warren Chapman departed from Old Point Comfort, Virginia, bound for Florida on the Caladonia Brander. An 1837 graduate of West Point, he was en route to the Second Seminole War in Florida. After arriving at Fort Brooke in Tampa Bay on October 27, 1837, he was assigned to Company B, Second Artillery which had orders to regarrison Fort Foster. Located twenty-one miles north of Tampa Bay on the military road from Fort Brooke to Fort King, Fort Foster protected the bridge over the Hillsborough River and served as a supply depot for the forts to the north. Initially, Chapman was appointed assistant commissary of subsistence and quartermaster in November and later also served as post commander for Fort Foster from early April until his departure May 4, 1838.3 While in Florida, Chapman wrote often to his fiance, Helen Ellsworth Blair of Westfield, Massachusetts, telling of the war, the rebuilding of Fort Foster, and the illnesses and desperate loneliness of soldiers serving in the Second Seminole War.