Earl Halbert was born in 1842 in Genesee County, New York, the son of Henry (b. 1806) and Adaline (Chase, b. 1813).
New York native Henry married Vermont-born Adaline sometime before 1838. They may have originally settled in New York but had moved to Michigan by 1838 when their son Daniel was born. By 1840 Henry and his family had returned to New York, and were living in Genesee County, New York, where Earl was born in 1842. By 1850 Earl and his family were living in Pavilion, Genesee County, New York, where he attended school with his older brother Charles and his father worked as a carpenter and joiner. The family headed west again and returned to Michigan and by 1860 Earl was a farmer living with his family in Oneida, Eaton County. (Henry may have originally come from Oneida County, New York.)
Earl stood 5’5” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 19 years old and still living in Oneida when he enlisted in Company G on May 10, 1861.
He reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Oneida, Eaton County, was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February. While still in winter quarters at Camp Bullock, Earl wrote to his cousin Maria in Michigan.
Tonight as I listened to the names called in the distribution of mail in our Co. I heard nothing of any for me. But soon a tent-mate came in [and] to my surprise handed me two letters, one was addressed in your handwriting, the other in ____ _____ I was deceived it being from George I ____ broke the seal and perused the contents of your most welcome ____. I assure you it relieved a great anxiety to hear from you and as I don’t wish to have letters unanswered more than I am able to answer them I hasten to reply.
My health is good with the exception of a sore arm, the result of a vaccination. This however subjects me to no great inconvenience at present. I have done no duty for a week but I guess I should be able again in a day or two. We are having pleasant weather at present though rather cool. We have had some snow and rough weather lately but in the “deep south” such weather don’t continue a long time. Army news is rather uninteresting to people at the north at present for nothing of an active character is transpiring.
Preparations for a spring campaign are steadily going on. Quite a change in the army of the Potomac has lately occurred; the 1st and 3rd corps are broken up and the troops distributed among the other 3, the 2nd, 5th and 6th. We now belong to the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Division of the 2nd Army Corps. General Hancock commands the Corps and gen. Birney the division. This change is only temporary however and may be changed back again at any time if the regulars fill up enough to make it possible. A change I tell you we don’t like to have the old 3rd Corps broken up but the best interests of the service demanded such a consolidation and we ought not to complain if at any time we have men enough we are assured that we shall again be reorganized. We return our Corps badge which you saw on my cap and which we should grieve to part with as it is in honor of Gen Kearney, a general we shall ever remember with feelings of pride and admiration.
Our camp duties are the same as usual only a little more arduous. We have a great many recruits [and] we have to drill with them to teach them. Our other duties are inspections, guard, picket etc which are very frequent. . . . An army review will take place in a few days; it will be a grand affair.
You will please tell your father that today we got notice that we could have our credit changed to any place we wished so I transferred mine from Lansing to Oneida. I will probably get a certificate in a day or two and will send it to him. They have told us is that Lansing has finally concluded to pay us a bounty but if we don’t get a cert Lansing won’t have my credit.
It seems Nelson is calling round considerable I hope he will have a good time in Mich and be as favorably impressed with the country and its inhabitants as I am. He will then surely settle down.
But time flies and I have another letter to write this eve so I will bring my epistle to a close.
Hoping to hear from you soon and see your face too.
I remain as ever
Your cousin in blue,
My best wishes to all
Earl was slightly wounded in the hand in early May of 1864, probably during the actions in and around the Wilderness, Virginia. He had apparently returned to duty with the Regiment when he was transferred to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864.
While on picket duty on September 12 or 14, 1864, near Petersburg, Virginia, Earl was wounded a second time. He died of his wounds in a field hospital on September 16. Originally buried one-half mile east of the Avery house near the “grove” at the Fair Grounds hospital, near Petersburg, Earl’s body was reinterred in Poplar Grove National Cemetery: grave 1209.
No pension seems to be available.