Caleb Tompkins was born in 1833 in Greene, Chenango County, New York.
His family moved from New York probably to Ohio, then on to Wisconsin before settling in Michigan, and by 1860 Caleb was a laborer who could not read or write living with his younger brother Ambrose (or Ambrosial) and his family in Brooks, Newaygo County.
He stood 5’11” with blue eyes, light hair and a fair complexion and was 28 years old and living in Newaygo County or in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company H on April 28, 1861. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers,” was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.) He was reported as a provost guard from July of 1862 through September, on detached service in October (probably as a provost guard), and a provost guard from November of 1862 through January of 1863. He was with the provost guard at Brigade headquarters in March, with a wagon train in June, and was back at Brigade headquarters in July.
Caleb reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Muskegon, Muskegon County, was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough, possibly in Michigan, in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.
By March he was serving with the ambulance corps, and was transferred to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He was possibly wounded in the left leg sometime in June near Petersburg, Virginia, was absent sick in July and on detached service in September and October. He was again reported absent sick in November, promoted to Corporal on April 1, 1865, and mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
He was probably living in Lake City, Missaukee County, for one John Armstrong in 1880.
Caleb was 53 years old when he married his second (?) wife 15-year-old Michigan native Ella F. Weldin (b. 1870), on October 25, 1885 in Windsor, Eaton County. He was living in Delta, Eaton County in 1890 and in Jackson’s 8th Ward, Jackson County in 1894.
Caleb was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 2264) on November 7, 1894, and discharged at his own request on November 19.
He was possibly a member of the 3rd Michigan Infantry Association. Caleb applied for and received a pension (no. 310204).
Caleb reportedly died in 1895, possibly at his son’s (?) home in Newaygo.
In August of 1895 his widow was living in Michigan when she applied for and received a pension (no. 448,228). She was probably living in Lansing in 1920.